Recently the Young Thinkers Meet was organised under the aegis of India Foundation. A group of around sixty young thinkers from diverse fields from spirituality to bio-technology were discussing The Great Indian Dream. Some were presenting their views on foreign policy and climate change related issues while others were sharing their experiences for making primary education experiential. But all were agreed to make Bharat untied, secured and prosperous. What do they represent? They represent the ideas and aspirations revolving around reshaping the image of Bharat.
In the age of negativity, where terrorism, corruption and violence find the prominent place in the headlines of media, there are many positive and innovative stories around us who are connecting the dots to make Bharat better, richer and greater. Some are getting into social entrepreneurship while others are in innovative manufacturing. For some after higher qualification, serving the village though democratic process is the wayout while for others using their knowledge acquired in the foreign universities for the Bharatiya masses is critical. These youth have revitalised the age old tendencies of Bustling Bharat and coupled them with modern technology and techniques. While celebrating the 69th Independence Day, Organiser salutes to all such nation building efforts engaged in reshaping the Bharatiya Dream by bringing a representative sample for the readers.
India had been home to a third of the world GDP until the turn of the seventeenth century. As per the estimates made by famous British economic historian Angus Maddison, in his well researched and empirically documented book entitled World Economic History—A millennium perspective published by the OECD nations from Brussels, India had 33 per cent share in the world GDP from first century AD to 1000 AD, 32 per cent between 1000-1500 AD and 22 per cent till the end of seventeenth century. The same economic glory can be restored by powering start-ups across all sectors through a proper enabling environment and slew of active promotional and tailor made policy initiatives. The deep-embedded entrepreneurial locii, widely spread in masses, ranging from teenagers to common men in the country needs to be triggered and harnessed.
This entrepreneurial zest has been bustling through ages, from the golden age village cobblers, potters and blacksmiths to the present day tech-savvy enterprising youth. Highlighting the same, the Rig Ved has described family's productive assets as the nation’s capital and the same entrepreneurial zest is seen blooming into the spate of start-ups, metamorphosing into giant enterprises, rolling out innumerable prestigious 'Made by India' products and brands, capable to take the economy to ever-newer heights. The locii for such start-ups are deep-rooted into the Indian masses, ranging from uneducated farmers and ordinary employees to the tech-savvy youth since ages. Few of such representative examples from pre-Independence period to the present decade may convince readers that, if harnessed properly, the zest of nation's youth for innovations and start ups can place India in the front rank of industrialised countries.
To begin with a small pre-Independence era start-up of village farmers like the, 'Amul', set up as a village milk cooperative of 126 farmers in 1946 to sell just 247 litres of milk almost 420 Km away at Mumbai to the new found Bombay Milk Scheme has now got transformed into a Rs 20,000 crore mammoth multi-product cooperative, which has triggered the white revolution in the country. Another similar bright star is the largest bio-pharmaceuticals company of the country, the Biocon, founded by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw in a garage of her rented house in 1978, with a capital of mere Rs 10,000. She was even denied a bank loan by the banks, at its initial stage. Now it (Biocon) is a Rs 500 crore turnover company, whose public issue of shares was oversubscribed thirty times.
The Nirma as a detergent brand was another start-up founded by Dr Karsan Bhai Patel, even without a single employee in the beginning. Karsan Bhai himself was an employee in 1969, who started making detergent part-time by blending chemicals on the floor of his house to sell the same on his bicycle, as a peddler in the morning and evening. Gradually his business expanded and today he has a turnover of more than Rs. 10,000 crores with employee strength of 14000. If we now take up the success story of a post – 2010 start-up, it is the Rays Power Experts, started by a young 2010-passout engineering graduate Rahul Gupta, who even had to forego filing a tender, having an earnest money of just Rs 1.37 lakh. So, initially he had to confine his firm to offering consultancy to other firms in the field of solar power. Gradually, from the income garnered from consultancy, he could start applying for projects at his own from 2012 onwards. So, soon by March 2014 his company touched a turnover of Rs 350 crore. Now he is eyeing to have a turnover of Rs. 1000 crores by the end of 2015.
Such start-ups of young entrepreneurs are legion and growing across the sectors. Likewise, the Infosoft Global was started with a single product item of USD 15 in 2005. Now it has a turnover of above Rs 50-crore with more than 60 employees. Dhruva started by three friends has a headcount of 300, Matrimony.com started by Murugavel Janakiraman in 2001 has a headcount of 4000. Jasper Infotech started by Kunal Behl and Rohit Bansal in 2007 who then co-founded the Snapdeal in 2010, which is a giant e-commerce venture with a headcount of 1500 plus.
Coming to innovations, the quest for innovation of Dr. Vijay Bhatkar led him to conceive the idea of a parallel processor, capable to process information faster like a Cray super computer at a cost of less than Rs 1 crore, when India was denied a super computer Cray, even on offering Rs 24 crore. This has enabled the country to produce the complete series of Param Super-computers with a processing speed up to 500 teraflop. Research and Development is the key to all innovations. Today, Korea, which accounts for just 5 per cent of India's population and area is the world's largest ship-builder with 28 per cent share, by virtue of spending around 4 per cent of its GDP on R&D vis a vis mere 0.9 per cent being spent by India, which therefore has a mere 0.01 per cent share in world ship-building, in spite of being 3rd largest producer of steel with a large pool of skilled manpower and long coastline.
Unfortunately, our share in nominal world GDP too has now plunged to just 2.5 per cent on exchange rate basis from 32 per cent in 1500 AD and 38 per cent in 1950. In manufacturing, we just have a 2.04 per cent share in world manufacturing vis a vis a 22.7 per cent share of China in world manufacturing and 17.5 per cent of the US, notwithstanding the fact that we are home to 16 per cent of the global population and have been turning out largest number of engineering graduates in the world.
It can be remedied well, and can usher us in an era of 'Made by India' products and brands, the only 'mantra' available to place India in the forefront of advanced industrialised countries, and can do miracle with if a supportive culture is extended by a slew of incentives and policy initiatives. Since, the youth across the country is over-flush with strong entrepreneurial locus, ideas and enthusiasm and there are such endless icons of success, they can en-jewel the whole country with budding and bubbling start-ups again to restore the glory of contributing a third of world economy, just by virtue of being home to largest number of youth in the world.
Dr Bhagwati Prakash