Two interesting events happened on the sidelines of a startup conference that I attended recently. I met a woman — a grandmother in her early sixties — who told me excitedly about the online food delivery business that she started a year ago. She had come from Meerut and could not wait to “scale” her “Awadhi chaat” across the world. I also met a 14-year-old girl from Mangalore who was building a “climate intelligence” app to enable farmers to better prepare for extreme weather events. The grandmother and the teenager, put together, captured the spirit of entrepreneurship that is sweeping India. From Meerut to Mangalore, we are building in India for the world.
The relentless rise of entrepreneurial India is a spectacle that is not only astounding developed nations but also inspiring other developing nations to aim higher and build more. Thanks to growing digitisation, the barrier to entry to becoming an entrepreneur in India is really low and getting even lower. It is not surprising that India has jumped nearly 80 ranks on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. India has the world’s third largest start-up ecosystem, which now comprises more than 70,000 start-ups. Even better, more than half of these start-ups are now headquartered in non-metropolitan cities. The young Indian is learning and working today not with a job seeker’s mindset but with a job creator’s outlook. India at 75 is preparing for India forever.
The largest democracy in the world is also the world’s fifth-largest economy with a median age below 30. India today has the perfect trifecta of ambition, skill and capital to create world-class companies across multiple sectors. This is possible because we are today not hiding from our problems but facing them head-on with the energy and creativity of a young nation. Solving for India is solving for one-sixth of humanity. The government of India, through policies such as Digital India and Startup India, is playing a champion’s role in propelling India into the big league of global disruptors. We have already created the greatest middle-class in the history of the world by lifting millions of people from poverty. Now we need to provide everyone with a fair chance to develop their talents.
There are very few countries in the world whose history of advancement can parallel that of India. More so as it transitions from an agriculture and service-based economy to a knowledge-based and product economy. However, sustained national progress hinges on the continued convergence of education, technology, and innovation. We need to train our children in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which will be vital for the future of work. Keeping pace with the rapidly changing technological landscape requires the vision which the National Education Policy 2020 boldly demonstrates. An equaliser and uplifter, education is a component vital to nation-building, giving a billion-plus Indians a solid foundation to foster multi-year economic growth, upward social mobility, and autonomy.
Today, India is a “can-do’”nation. By making the right choices, anyone can succeed in India. We now need to work together with a full-potential mindset in this Amrit Kaal, which I see as 25 years of limitless possibilities in this new land of opportunity. We must gather enough courage to take ownership of not just our own destiny but also improve other lives. It is by converting our many challenges into multiple opportunities that India will live up to its fullest potential. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
I have no doubt that India will be the most powerful, happiest, and most generous country in the world before this century ends. You just have to meet one entrepreneurial grandmother and one entrepreneurial teenager to realise this yourself. Indeed, it was only in India that a teacher’s son who grew up in a village could live his dream of helping millions learn better.
(The writer is founder & CEO, BYJU’S)