Last night I attended a talk by Rajeev Srinivasan, Rediff Columnist, at Stanford University on India’s competitive advantage.
First he talked about what a great past India had, when there were great accomplishments in Mathematics, Medicine, education etc. Even as near as 1750, before colonialism set in, India had 25% of world trade. There was a school in each village and India was enjoying the fruits of globalization.
But then after Independence, Rajeev says that India fell into the Nehruvian Growth Rate of less than 5% due to the policies of the Governments which did not make infrastructure investments and popularized the licence-raj. The bureaucrats were spending more time telling people what they could not do.
To make India prosperous, we have to promote the advantages India has and for that we have to promote what he calls “Brand India”. As a case study he said, it is good to study how the Japanese entered the US Markets. Also there is a need to improve infrastructure and the legal framework.
There is lot of fear in India regarding multinations assuming that Indian companies would not be able to compete with them. But then he said that Indian companies can definitely adapt to the circumstances. He told the cases of Aravind Eye Clinic and the Japur Foot, both of whom are providing world class services at low rates. He also mentioned about the my home state of Kerala, where they have packaged Ayurveda and Tourism and created a industry which is providing employment to many people.
He then compared India against United States and China offering the pluses and minuses. One of the biggest problem with Indians is inferiority complex. But as the IT industry has shown, India can survive in a globalized world. In the past India has survived in a globalized world and it can again.
I have been reading Rajeev’s columns for long time and this is the first time I saw him and heard him talk and I have to say, I like his columns better. But I appreciate the fact that he has taken time to put a comprehensive view of India from cultural, economic and historical angle. But to spread Brand India he will have to reach to a wider audience, especially non-Indians.
For those of you who wonder, how he looks like, here is a picture. For people in Bay Area, there is another talk on Oct 7th at the University of California, Berkeley.