“Predictions of the future are nothing but projections of the present,” wrote the late Hannah Arendt. She was a political theorist, but her proposition forms the basis of all projections. Even economic ones.
So, what kind of an economy will India have in 2067? Certainly not anything like the one which our founding fathers had nvisioned. Yes, they had dreamed of a developed, modern India. But their projections — and their dreams — were based on their present, the India of 1947.
At that time, India’s riches lay in the past. It’s present, after the ravages of centuries of colonial rule, was that of a poverty-stricken nation, struggling to come to grips with the ravages of partition, and a novel concept called democracy.
Sixty years on, that potential is well on the way to being realised. India’s present reflects a flawed image of India’s future. Flawed, because it still needs to work out kinks in infrastructure, equitable development and managing growth, which have put some wrinkles into the mirror. But most of the probabilities, in terms of the odd ultra-modern tower or the odd stretch of world-class roads, would have become a certainty for the whole country. By 2050, India would have overtaken the US in gross domestic product, and second only to China’s.
The Indian consumer will be one of the most sought after in the world. But the sheer scale of his demands will test not just India’s, but the world’s capacity. Even for basics like food, water and energy.
The big differentiators would be democracy, and sustained reforms. China will undoubtedly be the world’s most powerful economy but also the most feared
Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, says that progress should be calculated in terms of what has been left behind. What we have left behind are the mistakes of the past. What we take into the future is the certainty of a better tomorrow.