The transformation of the global economy in the 60 years since India achieved its Independence – indeed, just in the last decade, amid the acceleration of the information technology revolution – has given Indians the prospect of a wealthier, more fulfilling life than the nation’s founders could ever have imagined. Better still, we can look ahead toward opportunities that will help all Indians, both within India and overseas, take part in a more widely shared global prosperity. Indians’ recent progress is a testament to our people’s willingness to embrace profound and positive change: some by seeking global opportunities in other nations, and some by supporting sweeping economic reforms at home.
India’s surging growth rate, with its GDP currently expanding by almost 10 percent annually, is stunning for those of us who remember a time when India seemed destined to remain mired in poverty as an agriculture-based society – even as we watched other nations become industrial powers and post-industrial “knowledge economies.” Sixteen years ago, a dramatic period of change was triggered by India’s embrace of economic reform and liberalization. Now that India has made a commitment to become fully integrated in the global market economy – and now that it has begun to enjoy the benefits of that reform, continued liberalization will help position the nation to pursue new opportunities, develop new industries, and create an even more productive economy.
The prospects for India’s prosperity certainly seem vastly different than they did when I was a young student preparing to leave home. Only a few of us, at that time, had the chance to sharpen our skills at our nation’s premier technology and management institutions – the Indian Institutes of Technology – and to prepare for careers in global enterprise. Looking back on my IIT years, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the privilege of attending such an institution. By promoting the most advanced research and attracting the nation’s top faculty members, the IIT movement helped energize a once-sluggish Indian economy.
We, brand-new graduates of our universities and our IITs, could scarcely imagine the intellectual riches and professional challenges that awaited us when our career paths led us to pursue opportunities in nations all over the world. Like many IITians, I pursued advanced management studies in the United States, and the intellectual rigor of my IIT experience provided a strong preparation for the discipline required by Harvard Business School. We knew that India’s economy, and the global economy, would need the very sharpest thinking of “the best and the brightest,” and we used those years of graduate study to hone the skills that would later serve us well in engineering, high technology, finance, and management.
As we have advanced along our professional paths, Indians who live abroad today – led by many of my fellow IIT alumni – remain committed to using our professional skills to strengthen India and help all Indians become the very best they can possibly be. The network of graduates of top Indian universities and professional schools, with their willingness to contribute to India’s success, is a powerful resource for building a stronger nation for the future.