Wednesday, March 12, 2008

India Billionaires: So why am I not ecstatic?

Forbes just released its list of billionaires and there are 4 (not 1 not 2.. but 4) Indians in the top 10 - at 4,5,6 and 8 we have Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh and Anil Ambani and KP Singh. If you grew up in India like I did - where the only foreign coverage we saw was BBC pictures of starving children or worse stories of "Suttee" and "thuggery" this is great news- its about India "arriving", India "shining" etc. Not only that I am personally a beneficiary of their endeavors: I am thankful for my flat in Gurgaon, great phone connectivity everywhere in India and not to forget - that Reliance data card - slow as it is - that gives me internet access from anywhere, everywhere in India.

So why am I not ecstatic? Because India's dreams are not big enough. Because I can't help but think that India could do more- we are not living upto the innovation potential of the full billion people. Wouldn't it be great if Gurgaon had green buildings? Ones that wouldn't have to run Diesel generators but could still have power 24/7? Better infrastructure? Is there enough investment in new R&D suitable for India's climate? Like Solar? Wind?

Technology can create wealth - Bill Gates (and the rest) has proven that over and over again. How about now we employ technology that will also distribute the wealth instead of making the income gap larger - especially in India where a majority still lives on less than $4/day.

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