"I believe in my lifetime, I will see an Indian become Prime Minister of Great Britain," said Cobra Beer's Lord Karan Billimoria, who addressed a session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit with bestselling author Chetan Bhagat on Saturday.
Billimoria, who made his fortune selling beer, was referring to the positive and continuing changes he had has witnessed in the UK since moving there as a boy of 19.
India has also changed since, in so many ways. He marveled at its economic growth. "The India I grew up in was closed and insular… (but) by 2050, India and China could be the two largest economies in the world."
Billimoria said that challenges remained. "Over 300 million people in India still live below the poverty line. This is completely unacceptable." But he was hopeful. India is a country where hope overcomes pessimism, he said. "Despite these challenges, India will succeed."
Not only that, the best is yet to come, said the beer baron, the son of an Army officer. Referring to our economic growth, he said we've only seen the trailer now, the blockbuster is yet to come. "India is primed to pick up the mantle of global leadership."
Billimoria ended on a positive note quoting a catch phrase of US president-elect Barack Obama, who, he said, demonstrated to the world that one can overcome any obstacles through hard work. "Can we succeed? Yes we can."
In a well received speech peppered with witty one liners, author Chetan Bhagat took up where Billimoria left off. Yes we have many problems to tackle but the question is not who should we blame, but how we can fix it.
Bhagat said all India's youth wanted were better colleges, opportunities and better jobs. "We all want the same thing: progress." It is this common desire that we must use to our advantage.
Bhagat shared a three-point agenda to help achieve this: change politics of difference to politics of similarity, stop elitism and educate everyone in English since that would guarantee jobs.
He allayed fears of those who fear the 'English' invasion. "I say English, not England… Hindi is the mother, English is the wife. It is possible to love both."