Today is the 15th of August, 2047. A proud day for the land of my birth, a 100 years since her independence! I left India for America’s distant shores in 1976, and although my work as an entrepreneur, angel investor and Indian-American community leader has brought me back to India a few times each year since then, I’m still amazed by the transformation India has undergone.
It was a different era back then. I remember that we had access to one state-owned TV channel and a black-and-white television. And we were among the privileged few! Besides that, we could only watch TV when the power was available. I also recall my friends telling me how they had to wait only 7 years to get a land line telephone, because they had bribed the local junior government bureaucrat to expedite the process!
One tends to romanticize the past, and I, too, have pleasant memories of an age gone by, but the fact is that India has undergone a sea change for the better since then, and is unrecognizable even compared to 2017, just 30 years ago.
India is now the world’s second largest economy, and based on the demographic dividend, is poised to be the largest economy in the near future! Yes, my adopted country of America is still wealthier by a long shot but there too, India is catching up.
In 2012, I founded a non-profit organization in America called “Indiaspora”, whose mission is to connect leaders of the Indian diaspora with their birth nation in meaningful ways to make a substantive difference. Back then, we worked on “Mission 2022”, which was our dream of seeing India as a 75-year young nation readying itself to stand on the rostrum of the world. I have long since passed on the reins of the organization to capable hands.
Even then, we could foresee the incredibly rapid change. One TV channel had become 1,000. The latest flat screen ultra-high definition displays were sold in India the same month they would be made available in Japan, Korea or USA. (Of course today India exports state-of-the-art electronics to many other countries.)
Most importantly, the dynamism and skills of today’s Indian youth bode well for her future. For a nonagenarian, I think of myself as being pretty tech-savvy, but I am stunned by today’s 10-year olds, who leverage entertainment and infotainment in ways I could never even have conceived of!
But I have to sign off now. I’d better hurry. I am here in California, along with my granddaughter, who will be traveling for a campus visit to the uber-competitive Madurai Institute of Technology. She wants to study robotics and artificial intelligence, but has to compete with her sisters and brothers from all over the world for admission into these hallowed, ivy-lined colleges.
She tries to assure me that it’s perfectly acceptable to verbally dictate my thoughts to my digital executive assistant (“We do that all the time, Thatha!”) but I’m not so sure. When I was studying in college, we were all expected to keep our mouths shut and pretend to listen with rapt attention to the teacher. So for now, Namaste!
“From India Abroad Independence Day Issue”