Aiming for a better life


Eleven economists pen a mega book to find answers to issues that hinder India’s growth, says Kunal Majumder

Act Fast Harinder S Kohli says it's time India cleans up its environment
Act Fast
Harinder S Kohli says it’s time India cleans up its environment
Editors : Harinder S Kohli and Anil Sood
281pp; Rs 2,300

WHERE WILL India be 30 years from now? Economist Harinder S Kohli is not into the prediction business but says he would be happy if someone could solve Mumbai’s rain problems. “If you want Mumbai to be like Barcelona, then we cannot have India’s biggest city under eight feet of water in the monsoons. We cannot have the types of trains that we have now and we cannot have 60 percent of Bombay living in slums,” says Kohli, who along with Anil Sood, a World Bank veteran, edited India 2039 for all the answers. Kohli, CEO of Centennial Group, a Washington-based advisory firm on emerging markets, says over the next three decades, nearly 90 percent of Indians will be middle class and the country’s per capita income will have crossed Rs 10 lakh. And if the government and civil society get that their act together, India could be transformed into an affluent society. There are 11 other economists — including former RBI boss Bimal Jalan and former director general of CSIR, RA Mashelkar — who agree.

The writers are unanimous that urbanisation will change what they call the country’s existing “pigeonholed” talents. “Already, such barriers are breaking down in urban institutions like armed services and centres for higher education like IITs and IIMs. The milliondollar question is how fast can this cover the whole country.”

The book also emphasises the need for a clean environment in an affluent society. The authors believe that the present establishment completely lacks a environmental vision. How can the State be taken seriously when it cannot even provide clean water to all its citizens? “Cleaning rivers has nothing to do with global warming?” Someone needs to answer. And act.

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A Simple Tale Of Basics

Mantras — not religious — Indians must remember

SOME TIME ago, Narendra Taneja, a senior journalist and energy expert, visited a village with his friend and MP Raj Babbar. He had little rice for dinner, his hut lacked electricity and a door. There was a huge hole for movement.

Mantras for a Golden India
Mantras for a
Golden India
Narendra Taneja
Leader Books
124pp; Rs 250

The family of three lived on less than the poverty line of $1.25 a day. They were part of the 43 percent Indians living on similar earnings. Back home, his friends discussed Taneja’s visit over liberal doses of imported wine and Scotch whisky because it looked similar to Rahul Gandhi’s much-publicised visits to Dalit homes. Taneja argued that it was important for those who lived in the cities to occasionally stay in villages. “This is no poverty tourism. I am not Rahul (Gandhi) and Raj is not David (Miliband) and our visit did not merit media attention,” argued Taneja.

Taneja did not write poverty tales for his Norwegian newspapers but penned a slim, blue and gold-coloured handbook, appropriately titled Mantras For A Golden India. There were no fancy launches for this one, nor did anyone discuss it at the Jaipur Literary Fest. But since many have urged Indians to reboot and check their basics, this one should be a staple diet for all schoolchildren. My favourite was where Taneja asks Indians to fight corruption and avoid stocking up defence arsenal for a possible war.

Do Not Stop The Search

World oil barons visited India for a private conclave, reports Shantanu Guha Ray

High pressure  Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid A Al-Falih is sure of his supplies; (inset)Mukesh Ambani has India's biggest gas find
High pressure
Saudi Aramco CEO Khalid A Al-Falih is sure of his supplies; (inset)Mukesh Ambani has India’s biggest gas find

HAD AMERICAN author Matthew R Simmons been in Bengaluru last month, he would have found answers to issues that bothered him while writing his latest book, Twilight In the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock & The World Economy.

But the organisers of the annual World Oil & Gas Assembly (WOGA), attended by hydrocarbon barons like Khalid A Al-Falih — CEO of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company — didn’t invite Simmons. For the fourth time, this biennial energy show remained a closeddoor affair.

But those attending the conference knew what it means to face the world’s most pressing concern: whether recoverable energy supplies will decrease faster than they can be replaced with alternative sources. Al-Falih believes the three T’s — technology, talent and teaming — can do a lot to meet the resource shortfall. “A pivotal question is Saudi Arabia’s ability to not only maintain its current output of 8 million barrels but to increase that rate,” said Al-Falih. He was warmly endorsed by Tony Hayward, CEO of British Petroleum: “We need evolution in this business rather than revolution.” India’s top oil man, Mukesh Ambani, agreed that certain dramatic changes in the face of rising demand could put energy supplies at risk, but the search for more energy resources must not stop at any cost.

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