Rebuilding Brand India

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile
scientific discovery could have been made. ~ Albert Einstein
 
India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the
grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.
~  Mark Twain
If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.
~ French scholar Romain Rolland 
India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.
~  Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to USA 
 
Many of the advances in the sciences that we consider today to have been made in Europe were in fact made in India centuries ago.
~ Grant Duff (British Historian of India)
 
India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. India was
the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of the ideals embodied in Christianity… of self-government and democracy. In many ways, Mother India is the mother of us all.
~  Will Durant (American Historian 1885-1981)
 
 
These are but a few of the praises that have been said about the soil you and I sit on today. The CIA ranks India as the 4th largest economy in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity. Since it counts EU as the 2nd largest it actually puts India at 3rd when we go toe-to-toe as a country. Just recently Business Insider ranked India as the 4th in the most powerful militaries in the world.
 
Yes, this soil of India where an army of 35 lakh individuals, a relatively new constitution,a fiercely independent judiciary and a government elected by the largest democratic population in the world leads and protects the 2nd largest population in the world comprising of: 
  • 2nd largest followers of Islam
  • Largest followers of Hinduism
  • 10th largest followers of Buddhism
  • 2.4 crore Christians
  • 2.1 crore Sikhs
Brand India is over 3000 years old and we have held the world in awe with the deep diversity displayed in our culture, economics, ecology and religion. We don’t have to rebuild a brand that has given the world Yoga, the Gita, Sanskrit, Chanakyaneeti, the Shunya, the path of non-violence, the power of civil disobedience and what was in Mohenjadro – the oldest and globally trading civilization known to mankind.
 
India truly is the “land of opportunity”,  where a deep history is evolving through the eyes and efforts of a young population in a democracy that with all its aches and pain is still respected around the world for what it has achieved.
This is the very country that according to a recent Bloomberg article grew at 6.8%annually for the past 20 years. The same country where until 2007 we had a Christian lady leading the largest elected political party, a Sikh prime minister leading the country who were both answerable to a Muslim President that the country loved unconditionally. They were all presiding over a population that is 75-80% Hindu – which my friends is the strength of the fabric of Brand India.
The sons and daughters of this very soil have gone to lead some of the largest and most popular brands around the world. Their companies and in fact even their start-ups compete,out think, and out-innovate the sharpest minds in the world. You can walk into almost any developed country in the Western hemisphere and there is an awe in the eyes of the foreigner how well Indians perform when they have a platform.
It isn’t a hidden fact that Indians as a community are the highest per capita income earners in the US, UK,… we beat them in their own backyard!
 
So what happens to the Indians that stay in India ? How is it that almost of 5 trillion dollar economy in terms of PPP has such a low share of the global trade and an even lower image of the “Made in India” brand?
 
In my opinion the rebuilding of India has to start with you and me… It is us, we Indians and the makers of the “Made in India” brand that will have to make the change we want to see.Our chalta hai attitude which is a silent acceptance of shoddy service, low quality and fleecing of money from the system is the cause of where we stand today.
Our apathy towards the plight we collectively share is truly staggering. Our collective acceptance of an onerous bureaucracy has given us the dishonour of being in almost the bottom quadrant in the ease of doing business rankings released by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation in 2014.
The budding and upcoming entrepreneurs in this room would be shocked to know that in our own land we require 70 odd clearances to start a business, we have to file over 100 returns in a year and follow a maze of 50+ labour laws – most of which were made when your grandparents were born… some that were made when their grandparents were born.
 
This system is broken and it is breaking the back of Indian entrepreneurs. We accept it as a part of our culture but is that what was envisioned by the forefathers of our constitution that the fight they lead to give us freedom and self-governance has come back to drown the voice and expectations of a young India. We have gone from the land of a billion opportunities to a hole of a trillion “offo”-rtunities.
 
Offo-rtunity… how apt that word is for our predicament today. But does it need to stay that way? Can we change?
What brought me back to India after over a decade abroad is the fact that India has grown at tremendous rate for over two decades by a people that are so shackled by its system – a system created during the Nehruvian scarcity & socialist economics of the 1950’s through the late 1960’s that the growth itself is awe-inspiring.
So I imagined, what would happen if those shackles were removed? We would be unbeatable! The very Indians that cannot eke out a living in their own land go on to do tremendous work outside the country. If we offer them that system here, we can literally change the world within and outside our borders!
The fight to unshackle us is not going to be easy but nothing that comes easy is worth anything anyways. This fight requires you and everyone you can influence to change their very attitude towards mediocrity. it isn’t acceptable and cannot be acceptable in any form whether it comes from the government or the private sector.
 
If we want to provide world-class service to the world then that service has to first be given to us, isn’t it? If we want to make the “Made in India” brand the brand that signifies quality and trust… then shouldn’t we be the first adopters of that brand and work out the kinks before the world sees them? Why should our best commodities, products and services only be built for exports? Who will test them and ensure that they can stand toe to toe with global brands?
 
It is an observed practice followed by our successful Asian neighbours where the established companies nurture the younger companies and work with them to make them globally competitive. The people in those countries take the products and services made by their companies very seriously and refuse to accept sub-standard products – that is how their economies have produced innovative yet stable product lines.
So let’s copy that attitude and apply it to our companies. The next time you receive shoddy service or a DOA product, make it a point to protect your rights and ensure that the company not only rectifies the error, it makes it a policy to ensure that those errors aren’t repeated. If you don’t get the protection of your rights go to the consumer protection forums through online mediums which get you almost instant results.
 
Do the same when it comes to services provided by the government. The people that live in high offices react when din reaches unbearable levels. If only a few of us make that effort to change the country by changing ourselves, by accepting Jugaad innovation but being a jugaadu customer, we can eradicate the malaise of mediocrity that plagues our India.
So as I have said this in not so many words during this speech. The rebuilding of the brand of India isn’t going to happen without rebuilding the attitude of the Indian. When we take mediocrity or merely “good enough” as our standard of expectation we get into a downward spiral that has embedded its roots deep into foundation of our proud country. The generation before us has taken us this far and they have given us the baton to take this country forward.
 
Therefore before we rebuild brand India… let’s rebuild ourselves first.