History, as Alan Bennett nearly said, is just one thing after another…
How true, and if only the seeds of India’s historic move to independence, celebrated annually on 26th January –Republic Day– were spread a little wider across the world: we could all learn from the essentially peaceful and non-violent movement that made independence a reality on the subcontinent after three hundred years of British rule and several strokes of Dr. Ambedkar’s pen (in Hindi and English of course) on 26th January 1950.
And of course Dr. Ambedkar would undoubtedly have been proud of what India has become today, the young people of India in particular.
Some 600 million Indians, more than half of the subcontinent’s burgeoning population, are currently less than twenty-five years old. No country on earth has such a high proportion of young people and, as the Delhi writer Snigdha Poonam put it in her recent book “Dreamers”:
“No matter how poorly placed they may find themselves now, they make up the world’s largest ever cohort of like-minded young people, and they see absolutely no reason why the world shouldn’t run by their rules…they will change our world in ways we cannot yet imagine”.
No doubt she was thinking about Suhas Gopinath, a Bangalore based businessman born (for those of us of a certain age, sickeningly recently) in 1986 and he is also the youngest CEO in the world having taken the hot seat at the IT Leviathan, Global Inc, at the tender age of seventeen, three years after founding the company. Gopinath taught himself to engineer websites from the books in his bedroom and put together his first website from an Internet café in Bangalore when he was just fourteen. He now serves on the boards of various leading companies on the subcontinent including the ICT Advisory Board of the World Bank, the Indian Government’s Ministry of Science and Technology Group and the Social Peace Foundation. Talk about changing the world…
And then there is the increasingly ubiquitous Ritesh Agarwal known to his friends, for reasons that will become obvious in a moment, as the wunderkind. Young Ritesh started coding software when he was eight years old. Now a grand old man at 24, he is perhaps the youngest multi-millionaire to come out of India’s booming startup community so far. Founder and CEO of a network of budget hotels, he is also seeking to build on the subcontinent’s pressing need for additional hotel accommodation which is, of course, an area that Red Ribbon Asset Management is also making pioneering moves in through its innovative EcoHotels venture. But there again the market is clearly big enough in this, the fastest growing large economy on the planet to support two innovative entrepreneurs in the same sector…
These then are the increasingly public faces of the powerhouse that lies behind the Indian Economic Miracle: young, innovative and changing the world. Dr. Ambedkar would undoubtedly have been proud of all three of them.
Too often we stand and marvel at India’s economic miracle without stopping to think what lies behind it: what is it that makes it the fastest growing large economy in the world, with GDP growth currently outstripping the United States by a factor of three to one (four to one in the United Kingdom’s case)?
This article touches on just one of the key reasons but it is an important one that bears reflecting on further as we celebrate Republic Day this year; namely, the sheer unrestrained ambition of India’s under twenty-five-year-old population who are, as Snigdha Poonam famously put it in her recent book, changing the world in ways we cannot yet imagine. This is a vast natural resource that India can be rightly proud of.
The article touches on only two of these young people, but I know there are hundreds more working across all four corners of the subcontinent and in the future, we can expect thousands more to join them, in what is little short of an entrepreneurial revolution. And Red Ribbon is very proud to be part of this powerhouse generation, taking its place at its vanguard through an ongoing involvement in innovative and groundbreaking ventures such as the EcoHotels project.
So, all in all, I’m very confident that things can only get even more exciting in the years ahead… Watch this space.