Recently a friend of mine showed me some statistics and projected scenarios by Goldman Sachs and World Bank, showing that India could become world No. 1 economy by 2055, surpassing USA, China and Japan. His eyes were almost dreamy and his pride was boundless.
“No. 1? So what?” I asked.
For a moment he could not believe the question. He was expecting me to either rejoice with him as a fellow patriotic Indian or to dangle the dismal poverty report in front of him and start an argument. Certainly he was not prepared for the “So what?” kind of indifferent reaction.
To all who don’t share my indifference , here is an article that shows an interesting thing.
From the available data, it has been estimated that India was world’s largest economy from roughly 1 st century (and possibly even before that) to 1000 AD, and again for good chunk of time in 16th and 17 century.
We have been there, done that. No. 1 title is just that, a title. We had that for a long long time. And yet we are here today. What difference would it make if we get there again in say 30 years or so other than just satisfying insecurity in our own mind? We would eventually lose it again sometime.
I am not against growth, competition and becoming No. 1. Like many Western critics, I will not argue that we should feed every poor before we start feeling any pride. I will not argue that before we eliminate poverty, we should not do anything fancy, high-tech and not directly related to poverty (or any human development factor for that matter), although poverty is indeed a serious problem.
My point is we need to do what will make our lives better. We need to focus on our problem and find solutions. Even if it means negative growth, we need to do it if that will help us rich and meaningful lives. Growth for the sake of growth is not a good idea. It has become abundantly clear in last few decades of 20th century that Western model of development and growth has some big flaws and is unsustainable.
We must be a great nation, not necessarily the biggest economy of military power. We must focus on problems and do exactly what it takes to solve the problem.
Vision of our nation should not be based on things denied to us, or things we feel insecure about. Vision of our future should be based on our dreams and our introspection.