I have just returned from a short trip to the Ranthambhore jungles where I was fortunate to spot a tigress and her three cubs. I looked around to see hundreds of men and women of all nationalities sit absolutely still and silent, staring in awe at the strong and majestic animal. The respect that the tigress commanded came from her strength, her sense of pride, her independence, her intelligence, her healthy troop — all of which gave her an ability to dominate the scene. And at that point I thought to myself that this is exactly what I dream for my country and my fellow countrymen and women — respect from the global community and complete dominance of the global environment.
If I evaluate my country’s growth statistics today, it reads that India is a country of 1 billion people growing at 9% per annum. However, if you delve slightly deeper, we are in reality a country of 500 million people who are growing at 14% per annum. There is an equal number of 500 million people who are impoverished, uneducated and largely unnoticed — with little opportunity today and with little hope for the future.
This is in sharp contrast to America which is seen as one of the greatest countries in the world because it gives an equal shot to all American men and women alike to seize the opportunities freedom provides and to go out and carve their own destiny.
This was not always the case. In the 1900s when America went though an industrial revolution, it had its own share of gender-, colour- and class-based discrimination. However, every American entrepreneur and successful American professional took it upon himself to make capitalism popular. They did it by making growth inclusive; by taking it upon themselves to provide the best educational institutions for their children; by becoming equal-opportunity employers; by making meaningful contributions to building world-class infrastructure, etc. And this is the most famous and lasting legacy of those professionals and entrepreneurs to date across the globe. It is not the wealth they created, it is not the corporation they left behind, but it is the nation they all built jointly — a nation which today commands respect because it has earned every stripe on its back the hard way.
Today India has exactly the same opportunity where Indian business is being recognized as world-class. What started with a technology sector revolution is now spread across all manufacturing and services sectors. Our corporates are admired and valued globally and our entrepreneurs are seen as second to none. Our professional managers are globally very well respected and lead global multinational companies.
Now we Indians need to take the game to a higher plane and grab this moment to transform our nation.
It is now imperative for us fortunate and blessed Indians who have been successful in our fields to now do our bit for inclusive growth. Now that our aspirations have been met, we should all acquire a social conscience. We need to ourselves in our own little worlds — our homes, our offices, our social environment — decide to improve the lives of women, children and families around us who need us. We should consistently make one small difference after another in the lives surrounding us to see our dream of a truly great nation come true.
(Manisha Girotra is managing director and chairperson, UBS India.)