India-time to rebuild

Author: Vinod Dham
Executive Managing Director, NEA-IndoUS Ventures
Congratulations on our country’s 60th birthday, a middle age by traditional measures for us humans, for India it is the start of its youthful generation. With over half of the population slated to be in the age group of 15 years to 25 years old, it will be by far the single largest group of youths anywhere in the world.

The challenge for the India of tomorrow is to channel the energies and ambitions of this youth into making India a modern and developed nation. Although India has been on rise for nearly a decade now, its growth has been primarily fueled by the service industry enabled by the flattening of the ‘always on’ internet connected globalized world we live in today. But just having a few million engineers employed in the IT service industry will not make India the strongest economy at the end. To feed, clothe, shelter, and educate its remaining billion, India need to build a stronger and sustainable growing consumer base by drawing out the rural population to participate in its economic growth. To achive this, besides education, there is an urgent need to rebuild the country’s infrastructure—to meet the basic needs of its citizens’ like adequate and clean water, electricity, medicine, houses, and air; and equally importantly to build the necessary infrastructure—roads, highways, railway lines, airports, seaports, ship building, etc. for enabling cost effective manufacturing, necessary to provide employment to tens of millions of non-IT, non college degreed youth coming up on stream.

No large nation in the history has built itself to greatness by skipping on the responsibility of building a large base of employment in hard core manufacturing industry and India cannot assume it can leapfrog itself without engaging in it as well. It is the only industry where eventually hundreds of millions can be employed with low skills and pre-school education. The purchasing power of these millions can be the engine that can continue to keep our economy growing at ten percent GDP for next 50 years and even longer. But to make India a one stop shop for building world’s emerging needs for all types of household products from furniture to cooking appliances, from automobiles to laptops and cell phones, from Televisions to all types of media entertainment gear—we need to become the lowest cost producer in the world. Even though our cost of labor for manufacturing these goods is very low, in some instances lower than that of China, the overhead of increased cost in transportation, due to poor infrastructure, is preventing India from playing well in this huge and vast market.

India has clearly seen the potential of the private entrepreneur. Given the reformed environment for investment, Indian entrepreneurs from Narayana Murthy to Sunil Mittal have amply demonstrated their acumen to build large companies and successfully compete globally, while competitively meeting the domestic needs of the country. Now is the time to arm the private Indian businesses with the mandate to build a world-class infrastructure to make India a modern nation that it deserves to be by 2020.

The leadership for opening up the floodgates of private ownership in building roads, freeways, highways, ports, and townships lies first in the hands of our top political leaders and bureaucrats. We must put these reform processes on fast track. There is no reason,to take 3 to 5 years just to give approvals for building the essential airports in the capital of our nation and big cities like Mumbai. We must move far more speedily and cut down the red tape; we do not have to allow the nation’s progress to be hampered by the age-old infrastructure that is badly in need of refurbishing across the nation. The building of a new infrastructure alone can gainfully employ the tens of millions of illiterate people and contribute to continuing a strong economic growth for decades to come.

I believe our leaders should make this the first priority for our nation. The central government should play a key role in rebuilding our country and entrust the private industry with the mandate for constructing the vital infrastructure network of modern India.
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Reader's comments(13)
1: We haven't yet 'build' where is the question of 'rebuild'.
Posted by: Mohd Shafiq Mohiuddin - Friday 17th, December 2010
Posted by: DR R N SINGH - Friday 05th, March 2010
3: Dear Mr. Dham

i remember very clearly meeting you at Palm Meadows. However the thoughts are very clear and direct to us all.Since i am a youth i can easily visualize the impact of this in practical lives.By the way i am working for own company,The Premium where we take care of aviation(arranging a private choppers etc) and arranging hotel room booking in Bangalore and other major cities.Now we are the global vendor for some world know companies who are the IT,s and telecoms company.

Basu Chetri
Posted by: Basu Bahadur Chetri - Friday 26th, February 2010
4: The single most critical to success factor for India's future is clean, transparent, efficient and accountable political leadership across the country. Liberalisation has helped growth to a point. But the cost of corruption is mounting and making a mockery of the economy, what with estimates like over USD 54 bn (Prahlad)lost by India per annum. India digressed into coalitions which has been accepted as a norm, this is the biggest tragedy in the post independent India. Liberalisation does not create unlimited economic value. Public accountability for corruption, inefficiency and opportunity costs is the need of the hour. Those who cannot deliver should be asked to go, no matter what is the vote bank with them. Today we have a few honest leaders who are marginally dealing with the system and a vast majority of leaders who are programmed to exploit the system at the expense of the country. We need to fix this basic weakness in governing the country. India is growing bigger with our political core in a reverse evolution. There is a very serious mismatch. This is unsustainable. The judicial system is not capable of ridding the country of its quintessential evil of corruption. The political system is now made of corruption and cannot fight with itself. India is caught in a bind. We need to empower and institutionalize regulators. Something very drastic is required - may be even a benevolent dictator, to take the country out of the marass.
Posted by: GOPALAN PARTHASARATHY - Friday 15th, January 2010
My Name is Tata I was impressed when i saw your profile at and will like you to email me back to my inbox so that i can send you my picture for you to know who i am.i belive we can establishe a long lasting relation ship with you.In addition,i will like you to reply me through my private e mail box (
This is because i dont know the possibilities of
remainning in forum for a long time.
Thanks,waiting to hear from you soonest.
Posted by: tata tatababy os - Friday 30th, October 2009
6: I Totally Agree with Vinod that we can't progress without manufacturing Industry in India...We can give ample opportunities to low skill labors and give them good life by deploying manufacturing industry...My dream is to lead India in manufacturing...
Posted by: Bikramjeet Singh Waraich - Thursday 10th, September 2009
7: Hi Dear

Please how are you! hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health.I went through your profile today at www. and i read it and took interest in it,please if you don't mind i will like you to write me on this ID ( ) hope to hear from you soon,and I will be waiting for your mail because i have something VERY important to tell you.
Lots of love Vera.
Posted by: mary marybaby george - Thursday 20th, August 2009
8: Hi Dear

Please how are you! hope you are fine and in perfect condition of health.I went through your profile today at www. and i read it and took interest in it,please if you don't mind i will like you to write me on this ID ( ) hope to hear from you soon,and I will be waiting for your mail because i have something VERY important to tell you.
Lots of love Vera.
Posted by: mary marybaby george - Thursday 20th, August 2009
9: Your art of Management has become a part and parcel of everyday life, be it at home, in the office or factory and in Government. In all organizations, where a group of human beings assemble for a common purpose irrespective of caste, creed, and religion, management principles come into play through the management of resources, finance and planning, priorities, policies and practice. Management is a systematic way of carrying out activities in any field of human effort. Management need to focus more on leadership skills, e.g., establishing vision and goals, communicating the vision and goals, and guiding others to accomplish them. It also assert that leadership must be more facilitative, participative and empowering in how visions and goals are established and carried out. Some people assert that this really isn't a change in the management functions, rather it's re-emphasizing certain aspects of management.
Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says the Management Guru Peter Drucker. It creates harmony in working together - equilibrium in thoughts and actions, goals and achievements, plans and performance, products and markets. It resolves situations of scarcity, be they in the physical, technical or human fields, through maximum utilization with the minimum available processes to achieve the goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion, wastage, delay, destruction and even depression. Managing men, money and materials in the best possible way, according to circumstances and environment, is the most important and essential factor for a successful management.
Posted by: mulavana parameswaran bhattathiri - Thursday 25th, June 2009
10: Sir,
I am realy surprised that you give priority to Infrastructure over EDUCATION.You just want the capacity to send the products throughout India and zip in a good car but donot care for EDUCATION which is the human capital of India
Posted by: captainjohann samuhanand - Monday 04th, May 2009
11: How is it Possible under the Alienated Political Set-up, where the Populist policies are being followed | Secularism instead of the Security of the Nation is a Priority.
Where There Vth Columists of CHinese Government are actively Vetoing Every Move towards the Improvement of the Nation.
Anarchy | flatery are the Charms here | Not Development
Posted by: RAVI Kulbhushan Sharma - Thursday 30th, April 2009
12: Hello Mr. Vinod, your view are really inspirational and we should have had people like you in the ruling constitution. What we need here in India in the first palce is people like you who think similar and have powers to put their joint wisdome in to actions. Of course, it is a long term vision and plan and nothing will happen overnight. But, somebody has got to start the iginition. When we know where we have to go, the journey is more easier and we will reach our destiny some day.
Posted by: joy thomas - Monday 18th, August 2008
13: Hi Vinod,

I am an NRI living in Texas, although I agree with you that all the things that you mention need to be accomplished on our journey to becoming a superpower.

However, I also like to prioritize the things and feel that the most important thing for India at this stage is to work on its energy needs. Fossil fuels are things of the past. We will have to use them as a bridge to get to our future just as T. Boone Pickens is saying in the US about his wind energy plans.

None of the other things that you mention like Industrial production, Rural Development, Education, Transportation, Railways can be improved without adequate and uninterrupted supply of energy.

The future will be run by Wind, Solar,Wave-power and other creative energy systems like Gobar Gas (especially in India). Can you even imagine if each and every village had a gobar gas plant big enough for cooking gas for all the households, for generating electricity for domestic and small industrial use, what it will do to the complexion of the country?

All the villages would not only become hubs of productivity but also see rising prosperity and could eventually see a slow down the rural migration towards the cities because we would have brought the benefits of urbanization to the villages themselves.

Therefore, it is extremely important for people like you and Vinod Khosla the Venture Capitalist to start promoting energy projects in the private sector in India. The government afterall, has limited ability to accomplish big things because of its very nature - too much bickering going on all the time.
Posted by: Tejinder Singh Sethi - Thursday 07th, August 2008
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