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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mira Kamdar at Stanford (Planet India)

Hi. I am sort of breaking a personal pledge i took sometime back of not writing anything for a few days - a personal reason that I am not willing to share just yet, but anyways, I thought I heard a few ideas which were really new and brilliant and deserved peoples' attention.

Mira Kamdar was at Stanford today. She is the author of the book Planet India. I loved the way she spoke and well frankly, I had no idea of who she was until yesternight when I found out about her talk. She gave the talk in the same room in which ambassador Ronen Sen had given his talk while he was in campus, in the grand Encina Hall of Stanford. So lets cut to the chase and talk about what she actually had to say:

So what she says is that India is this great big test case for all that has to come in the world. She says that with so many diverse groups and as such the inherent nature of the culturally, socially, economically diverse society, India looks like a good tests case. In the sense that given the set of constraints which India and its people live in, the entrepreneurs there come up with so many creative solutions to problems facing everyone in the world, the most out of the box solutions are seen in the Indian landscape. And why is that important? That is important because most of the world is like what India is, not like what Palo Alto is. That is to say, India is a good picture of what the world is and what problems it faces, unlike EU or North America.

Another point that she made was that a lot was hinged on the success of India. A lot was hinged on whether India succeeds in feeding all of its over 1 billion people, succeeds in generating employment for its people. And why is that? The reason is this. Remember the talk about the race between India and China. Well according to Mira (and I concur) there is NO race. China is already a century ahead of us and doing very well and so there is no race - china wins hands down. So there are these nations in Africa which are saying - Hey so whats this whole noise about democracy, why don't we just do what China is doing! India has to succeed in that it has to show the world that the success can be theirs WITH democracy in place.

Well that was all I could soak in, rest of the time I was busy eating the moderately good Indian (desi) food that on offer there. I feel I should attend more of such talks!

On other news: I am doing an independent study on the organized retail sector in India with Rahil Kacheria (Stanford' 08) and Prof. Tom Kosnik. In case you or someone you know are in the retail sector in India, please feel free to get in touch at thathoo@stanford.edu

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