The India That Might Have Been (Part 10)

India 2024 – 3

What gave him the greatest joy was that it was all done by the people themselves; all he had done as Prime Minister was to lend a helping hand by initiating the transformation. The bottled up aspirations of Indians over multiple generations had unleashed the genie of extraordinary growth to make up for 75 years of stagnation and mis-steps. For those who still remembered the old India, this transformation had been one that few had imagined they would see in their lifetime. India had been an even bigger economic miracle than China.

India still had a long way to go. The average Indian’s income was still only a fraction of that of the average American or Singaporean. But, the foundation of forever growth had been firmly set in place. The baton of powering global growth had firmly shifted to India. The shackles of the past broken, the world was seeing a new India – open for business. As a headline put it recently, “India is the new America.” That could never have been said about China with its lack of political freedom. India’s economic rise has also served as a counterbalance to China’s expansion policies in Asia.

The story of how India became great was still being told. There was never a single factor. Just like when building a business, a huge number of things had to go right for ultimate success. Against the odds and against the tide after the pandemic of 2020 which hurt many economies after they enforced harsh lockdowns, India had done it. With its 1.5 billion population, India had the potential to set the world on a new course of technological innovation and sustain prosperity. That was because Indians were free. It was a word that was so misused and misunderstood. For long, Indians thought they were free because the British had exited the nation in 1947. Little did they realise that the new rulers who took over had kept the same rules that prevented them their freedom to choose.

If there was one takeaway from India’s remarkable story, it was that freedom is worth fighting for. There were many parts of the world where the human spirit and desire to be ‘free to choose’ was still suppressed by politicians and governments. The fight for freedom needed to go on. The tussle between what the few in power and the masses they govern was a constant one. All it required was one error and a nation could slide back into serfdom. Freedom was not the natural state of nations – control by the few was.

His ideas and actions freed a billion Indians from decades of central planning, state socialism and crony capitalism and lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and unleashed a mass flourishing of entrepreneurship and wealth creation in India. But his work was not done.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.

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