IS India at the beginning of a renaissance that few are aware of? Are things slowly going the Indian way? India’s economy is poised to cross the Rs 90 lakh crore or $ two trillion mark in 2011-2012. It will then be joining the elite seven-country league of the US, Japan, Germany, China, UK, France and Italy. India is also set to outpace China as the world’s fastest growing major economy, the expansion rated between 8.75 per cent and 9.25 per cent in 2011-12.
In a much discussed report entitled World in 2050 submitted in January by John Hawks-worth, Chief Economist of Price Water House Cooper, UK, it was stated that in many ways, “the renewed dominance by 2015 of China and India with their much larger population, is a return to the historic norm prior to the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries that caused a shift in global economic power from Asia to western Europe and the United States and which is now going into reverse”. And it is about time, took, the Industrial Revolution in Britain was the result of wealth openly stolen from India by the East India Company. Between 1766 and 1768 Bengal imported £ 624,375 worth of goods and cash and exported ten times more worth of goods at £ 6,311,250. India’s global trade was between 24 to 26 per cent of the total world trade. Within a century British colonialism had reduced India’s capacity to an insignificant level.
Now India is going to stage a return to its old glory. Indian economy in the coming years will become less dependent on outsourced services – remember that President Obama – and become more focussed on manufacturing exports such as, for example, Tata’s Nano. Britain is sliding slowly but inevitably. After seven decades of broadcasting, the BBC has shut down its Hindi radio service as part of its global cost-cutting effort. On the education front Census 2011 tells us that literacy rates has risen to 74 per cent with literacy among women contributing substantially to the rise.
To have cent per cent literacy should not take long. That means that a total of around 900 million in India are literate, a figure greater than the population of the US, the European Union and Brazil put together. What this means is the context of a growing economy can only be guessed. Just in the publishing field, newspaper readership has been increasing by leaps and bounds, no doubt because of increasing literacy. During 2005-06 as many as 2074 new newspapers were registered. As on March 31, 2006 there were 62,483 registered newspapers on record as against 60,413 at the end of March 2005. The total circulation of newspapers increased from 15,67,19,209 in 2004-05 to 18,07,38,611 in 2005-06.
Indian language newspapers are doing well. Dainik Bhaskar in Hindi having eighteen editions claims a combined circulation of 21.82 lakh while Dainik Jagran with fourteen editions has a similar circulation of 21.2 lakh. Time was when there were just three publishing houses bringing out Indian fiction in English. Now there are ten. According to media reports, one publishing house gets 8 to 12 unsolicited manuscripts a day while nearly 100 writers offer their fiction to another every month!
There has been an agricultural turn around. Food grain production is set to grow by 3.7 per cent to 236.9 million tonnes in FY 12. It will surpass the record level of 234.5 million tonnes achieved in 2008-09, in 2009-10 acreage of wheat was an impressive 286.8 lakh hectares. Coverage during the on-going rabi season has been even more remarkable. By January 2011 it had crossed 290 lakh hectares. Pulse production is also expected to touch record levels in 2011-12 with an expected 19.3 per cent growth. All this, it is claimed, may mean 58 million additional jobs by 2012.
In Gujarat, Goddess Laxmi is smiling broadly and showering her blessings on the people. In terms of business who would have ever thought that the State Government would sign a total of 7936 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) involving a record investment of Rs 20,83,000 crore ($450 billion that are expected to create 52 lakh new jobs) Vibrant Gujarat 2011 ushered in the state its Golden Year when 35,000 delegates, including 1,400 from 101 countries attended the event. The ESSAR Group plans to invest Rs 15,000 crore in the Oil and Gas Sector alone, while Larsen and Toubro, to name just one more organisation has proposed to invest Rs 33,551 crore.
In the power sector the biggest MoU offer was by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power for Rs 30,000 crore followed by GVK Energy’s plan for 6,000 MW plant for Rs 6,000 crore. The investment figures proposed by other firms like Adanis, Sintex Power and Torren Group and mind-boggling. If Gujarat prospers, can India’s prosperity be far behind?
It is in this context that one must perceive the Indian victory in the Cricket World Cup. Was it just a victory or was it something else? Was it coincidental? Or could it be cyclical? Nations rise and fall and rise again with monotonous regularity. How many empires haven’t we, in India seen rising and falling? That is one – and philosophical – way of seeing the rise of Indian cricket. We may be happy but we needn’t see too much in its meteoric rise. But there surely is some meaning in the Indian cricket team’s rise since 2002 culminating in winning the ICC Cricket World Cup, when with Sehwag and Tendulkar sent back to the pavilion quite early, India seems destined to miserably lose? What kept Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir going all the way to victory? Let us remember this: India successfully marched past the three previous World Cup winners, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with a show of utter determination that has aroused admiration even from India’s sternest critics.
Cynics may say that it is all part of the game and that after India’s last victory twenty eight years ago it is but only natural that it should stand up front, this year. It is a good enough explanation but what is evident – and remains unchallengeable – is the self-confidence that the Indian team has shown, reflective of some deep changes in the Indian psyche that signals a role for the country in the years to come. Could it be – and can one argue – that the time has come for India to accept its role that Asoka in his time did to be the natural re-generator of all mankind? Wake up, India!