India as the world leading ‘Influence economy” ?

I was asked by the Hindustan Times to write about my perspective on the 21st century ambitions of India. Here is a transcript of the article.
“How can you define the ambitions of a collective, especially when the collective is over I billion people ? Driving towards 1.5 billion or maybe even 2 Billion if the planet can support that. For far too long India’s ambitions have been defined by the aspirations of the privileged few, almost as if at it’s center lay the ambitions of it’s feudal masters that demanded to be supported by the rest of the underclass at the cost of their own aspirations.
That is changing. And the change is going to accelerate so fast that those that have been used to privilege will be caught napping, as will the rest of the world. For this is India’s century and it will happen in-spite of the politics of India and the politicians of India. Because they will become completely irrelevant. And their irrelevance will be caused by the spread of New Media.
As fast and cheap broadband becomes available, and access to the internet reaches every home, every mobile handset in India, over a billion people no longer trapped in the cage of misinformation and ignorance will suddenly flower and explode into a fervent desire to express themselves, to educate themselves, and to take part in global culture. shaking off a century of repression and ignorance. Nation state boundaries in this century will in any case become irrelevant and will be redefined by cultural boundaries as the internet and social networking sites start to erode the very idea of emotional commitment to ‘set in stone’ physical/geographical boundaries.
So the India I am talking about is the spirit of it’s culture. Not it’s geography. It is the culture of India that will influence the rest of the world, and since culture defines how and what we consume and the way we consume and behave, it provides the very fundamentals of economic behavior and growth. This is not something that economists like to agree with because it takes away their ability to make economic projections based on simplistic equations of ‘8% growth and 12 % inflation, therefore an ‘x’ percent rate cut’ without taking into an account all of human behavior. Economics is not a compassionate science and therefore can never be quite accurate a predictor of the future. Never has.
Consider this…..


….India will soon have 15% of the worlds teenage population. This demographic has the greatest urge to partake in the ‘New Media’ as we term it for a want of a better word. For how else do we term a trend and technology that is changing so fast that everyday you wake with new and faster ways to make your presence felt on this planet. To make your own statement. To search for ways to stamp your individuality in a completely connected global society. These teenagers will be what we call the ‘tipping factor’. They will tip culture and aspirations towards their own culture and spirit. And in doing so will drive economic growth towards their own culture.
Just as people of my age the world over helped drive the economies of the West – by aspiring to and consuming anything Western. Now stand by to witness a kind of reverse cultural colonization that in the new digital and information age will happen far far faster than it took the western world to colonize our minds and culture.
And for those that start to shout hooray for tradition and religion, you celebrate in folly. The new culture will be a modern hybrid that represents the consumerist and sexual aspirations of a restless youth, tempered by a belief in the their own destiny and a deep respect for their roots. Their mythic and ancient roots. Not the kind of religious moralism that many self righteously claim their own.
How will this transform itself ? That is anybody’s guess, but sparkles of it are already quite evident in the changing face and behavior patterns of our young people.
Shall I pretend to be an ‘economist’ and put some figures to it – make predictions ? India in the 21st century will be centre of the world’s New Media economy. It’s vast technological resources, the suppressed desire of it’s people to freely interact with the world combined with it’s youth demographics will drive New Media revenues almost equal to the whole of India’s current GDP. That’s about one trillion dollars of annual revenue (yes, I did say a trillion) either generated in India or provoked world wide by Indians. That includes all Film, TV, Music, Social Networking sites, Youtube and it’s new variations, Video Games etc, and on any delivery system – be it computers, TV screens, cell phones or any other new technology that enables people to communicate with each other.
And just before those in positions of power start licking their lips, a word of caution. New Media is the most democratic movement there ever was. It is a system in which a kid living in India’s biggest slum can take over the establishment with one good idea and bring it down. Remember Napster ? Where a 16 year old kid essentially brought the global music business down with one website ? That was almost 10 years ago. The world now is a far far more technologically disruptive place.
And how will politics survive when information and thought will be driven by Blogs with billions of people addicted to them and relying on them. How will Politics in India survive when over a billion minds become free and transcend geography ?
Time to celebrate.”

18 Responses to “India as the world leading ‘Influence economy” ?”

  1. Babita Dubay says:

    YAY! I’ve always been dreaming of One World since I was in my early 20s about 10 yrs ago…so great if it will happen in my 40s perhaps! I agree with most of what you say but for now I find the pace of things happen so quickly that yes a big impact is felt but not for long…like everybody get their 15 mins or sometimes even 15 secs of fame! And I guess that’s the whole point cause that way is the only way it is democratic and everyone gets a voice…but at the same time it makes you wonder…I mean I was involved in this Tibet movement thing that to me was so far reaching and marvelous and then it seem to just be meaningless after a while…I personally blame the founder of the whole thing who is now just obsessed with getting numbers on a new venture called supposedly for world peace but in doing so failing to realise that its not always bout numbers…especially if its all talk and nothing doing! So it makes me wonder bout how the world is going to be in terms of depth in this new age…but it is indeed very exciting and hope all the world can join in soon. It’s the main diff with India and China I always say to people China is a staged controlled society but when India gets there the people will be in a sense freer cause there aren’t controls like in China from what I can see at least…although as you say the people minds can be controlled in a different way but at least thank goodness it is at least officially democracy! Hopefully China will one day soon join the free internet world too! BTW if you ever have the time please read my post on Kartik Snan -An Ode to the Element Water! sometime on one of my blogs!http://universalcollectiveprayer.blogspot.com/2008/11/kartik-snansnaan-or-nahan-either-way.html

  2. Harb says:

    Below is a more fundamental explanation as to why there is exponential growth in information technology in which Indians seem to be far ahead of the world and why China and India (or East in general)are becoming the leading influence economies of the future world.
    __________
    What exponential growth of information actually means is that now the Sahasrara chakra or the third eye of global cultural system as a whole is in the process of opening. It signals its paradigm shift from the Age of Reason/Science to the Age of Intelligence/intuition/wisdom.
    It has already been prediced and explained as happening in my book Self-Designed Universe because of global cultural system as a whole passing through four basic forces induced four basic interactions/phases (which otherwise every system has to pass through in its life) and now passing from the third interaction phase to the fourth.
    As to why India and China or East in general is now coming into the forefront:
    In our individual life we evolve through phases of childhood, youth, middle age and old age as also through naval chakra (where we point with our finger in our childhood were we to say “I”),physical heart chakra (where we point in youth) to head chakra (where we point with our finger in our middle age)and spiritual heart chakra thanks to our going through four basic interactions in the order of gravitational, electromagnetic, strong and weak interactions.
    Converted to the global cultural scale it will be progress from the common ‘physical’ center (Africa?)to the West (physical heart and left-sided brain are both to our left or ‘west’), to to the right or ‘East’ (right side of the brain and finally the spiritual heart which is said to be two digits to the right of the physical heart are both to our right or East).
    Obviously everything is happening as per a grand scheme of things/design based on four basic forces induced four basic interactions which every system has to pass through in its whole life cycle.
    So, no one could have stopped the coming into dominance of the east or going on back foot of the west.

  3. Harb says:

    Most people may find my comparison of the development of global culture as a whole with our individual lives as just a case of imagination run riot.
    But in fact right from the universe as a whole down to the proverbial ‘grain of sand’ and every system inbetween, is comparable in the same way, beause fundamentally all evolve because of the same basic formula – of going through four basic interactions of gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak in their whole lives (under question).
    This is because: the same force which threw the universe out of singularity…. threw sun out of galaxy, threw earth out of the sun , throws species out of earth, throws human species out of system of species, throws individual lives out of human species and so on and basically in the same way.
    In fact the same originl spiral of the spiralling universe, through many spiralling systems like spiralling glalxies on the way, finally becomes our spiralling chromosome or double-helical gene, also called kundlini shakti or spiralling force by Indian yogis.
    Nor it should be very difficult to understand why all systems evolve from the deepest by going through four basic forces or interactions, a process which happens through quantum jumps or paradigm shifts depending upon of which level we are talking about. And which gives evolution at all levels discontinuity at the deeper level while allowing it to maintain appearance of continuity on apparent level.
    Everybody knows that scientists have reduced/combined all the numerous forces working in the universe to four basic ones. And are on the verge of combining these four into one Unified Force. Even if as of now they have not been able to do so, we can infer from what has already been done that eventually all the forces must stand united, and the sole reason science has not been able to do so may be that the final Unified Force or Picture may just have to be self experienced like our nap/sleep/love-at-first-sight and so on and not known otherwise.
    And in fact it is this that mystics of various times have experienced at one level or the other to say that all the universe is the product of One God or What Is or what you have.
    Now suppose were any mystic, who was aware of scientists unifying all the forces into four and then almost into One, to look outwards from that Oneness towards the universe wouldn’t he naturally see just the reverse process of the above – the one unified force now separating first into four basic in all directions and then into many? No wonder he will see all evolution basically or from the deepest just happening because of this separating away of forces, all else just being superstructure on this basic process/explanation.
    (Based on my book Self-Designed Universe)

  4. Chaitali says:

    You know about the blogging part, I feel the blogs are so much more informative, most of the newspapers have paid news, so really dont know how much to believe. But blogs are real and genuine.
    I hope we dont have fanatics in this ‘New Media Economy’

  5. brahmastra says:

    I think all this hoopla about the growth of eastern countries is highly overstated. Agreed that India has made a huge leap in some areas of infrastructure and development. But it has made herculean strides backwards in other areas such as spirituality, accountability, corruption, media content, law-enforcement, lifestyle, etc etc. Did you see that whole fiasco at the Chennai law college where policemen were standing like buffoons while students were getting mercilessly beaten up? Are you paying attention to the continuous bomb blasts that have made India look like a country in coma? You talk about cell phones and revolutions..but the fact is Indians are losing their sense of grounding.
    Many Indians suffer from a heavy inferiority complex because of centuries of economic downfall(they fail to realize what caused it, and wouldn’t have this complex if they traced their roots). And coupling this with natural greed, Indians are slowly turning a complete blind eye to the detrimental psycho-spiritual effects in this rat-race for superpower status and materialistic overdrive.
    Such is this ego-machine called Earth..but what goes up will come down and so on. The real quest begins when the observation of the silent witness begins. Until then you monkeys will go round and round with false hopes and pseudo-intellectual belief systems to keep your egos alive.

  6. brahmastra says:

    Looks like I didn’t read the whole thing before I made my post.
    “And for those that start to shout hooray for tradition and religion, you celebrate in folly. The new culture will be a modern hybrid that represents the consumerist and sexual aspirations of a restless youth, tempered by a belief in the their own destiny and a deep respect for their roots. Their mythic and ancient roots. Not the kind of religious moralism that many self righteously claim their own.”
    Heck, that seems like a wish to turn India into a big OSHO ashram. I really wouldn’t mind!
    The achievement of all the ancient wisdom of India reaches its pinnacle when the ego or “ahamkara” is destroyed. Its anyones guess as to how to bring it about..LOL

  7. Himanshu says:

    Dear Shekhar,
    Thanks a lot for writing such a beautiful article for HT and it was such a pleasure to read. It is true that as the content creation as well as consumption of media as well as social networks is going to be propelled by a billion people the influence will automatically increase. The information and speed of distribution will make the world totally democratic and the main responsibility of the government will be to maintain peace in the land and keep the economy stable. I still believe we’ll need leaders to inspire people to think big – they may not be in politics, they can be in arts, media, business, sports and we are increasingly moving towards that. Look at our cricket team – a strong leader has changed our position in the world over 2 years – we won the 20-20 as well as won over Australia. It is like a cyclic reaction – first leaders take our country to a position of great influence then that influence inspires million of people to do their best to solidify that position and the whole country prospers.
    Best Regards,
    Himanshu

  8. Gopi says:

    Great insight into the future Shekhar!! When we look back at all the futuristic movies, TV shows, books etc so far, seems like they have made a big error in their judgment!!
    They have ignored India and China!! the influence the east is going have in the future; economically and culturally!!!
    Time to re-write i say!!!
    🙂

  9. Koizen says:

    Wow I felt happy reading your opinion of tomorrow’s India especially the youth section and how in due course of time politics will be taken with a pinch of salt with the gen x…Really really hope your opinion comes true.
    If I can only add one thing is the next gen x can be receptive to education system and also question it. Things for the next decade will be more specific, subjective and if Indian education can be the same then the youth will have greater impact.
    Still nice to know you have great faith in youngsters and the future of India. 🙂

  10. Suman Singh says:

    Economy? the question is are we willing to aspire for a world without money? (No barter system to)..Sounds silly at first go but when you ponder over it.. Yes it will be a beautiful place beyond the streak of anyone’s imagination… but to achieve the level of ‘no money’ as a instrument of tool. .we need to attain the highest degree of character and moral in each individual alive or to be born.. when i say character and moral i mean would somebody perform their given task without aspiring for money ‘just for the love of it’… The Village what a fantastic film in every essence of creativity n logic… this space would not suffice my thoughts on the film… but it does speak about creating a society which is far away from the word ‘Money’….. are we all willing to put a thought on it? (No money).. Imagination is more important than knowledge..Albert. E

  11. AJ says:

    Here is to those who want to see how India and its impact is moving ahead:
    Tracing the Roots Programme – India’s Republic Day 2009
    http://www.upana.org/sitemap
    http://www.upana.org/events-republicdayjan26,09
    upana Team meets Dr RV Ramani (Founder SEF) – Press Release coming …
    upana (Uttar Pradesh Association of North America) helping SEF (Sankara Eye Foundation)
    for 2 new locations Punjab and UP Eye Hospitals
    Help us Eradicate curable Blindness

  12. AJ says:

    Here is to those who want to see how India and its impact is moving ahead:
    Tracing the Roots Programme – India’s Republic Day 2009
    http://www.upana.org/sitemap
    http://www.upana.org/events-republicdayjan26,09
    upana Team meets Dr RV Ramani (Founder SEF) – Press Release coming …
    upana (Uttar Pradesh Association of North America) helping SEF (Sankara Eye Foundation)
    for 2 new locations Punjab and UP Eye Hospitals
    Help us Eradicate curable Blindness

  13. AJ says:

    For the First time ever India’s Republic Day 2009 will be celebrated at the world famous STAPLES Center with the NBA
    20,000 spectators and millions watching live.
    Tracing the Roots Programme – India’s Republic Day 2009
    http://www.upana.org/sitemap
    http://www.upana.org/events-republicdayjan26,09
    Be part of this…
    Its an honor, our priviledge and pride to promote our dearest Bharat Mata and its efforts

  14. kishore says:

    Nice article. The proof reader in me likes to point out that the possessive “its” has been used frequently in your article with an apostrophe: “it’s” which is a short form of “it is” 🙂
    I think one thing you did not touch upon was the potential postive influence of the decidedly Western and Japanese/Chinese/Korean culture of excellence and how that can infuse Indian culture as well. I do not want a billion people of great culture wallowing in mediocrity. However I think it is possible that this open new media can usher that change as well in India…

  15. Rajesh Shetty says:

    Would like to get your thoughts on India’s first unmanned mission to Moon.

  16. Thulasy Mary Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the motivation and hope you are able to inculcate in our minds.

  17. austere says:

    It is possible.
    The politics scares me.

  18. Horst Vollmann says:

    Dear Shekhar:
    There is a great energy that spreads around the globe like wildfire. The energy of billions of minds that have been freed of the constraints of social barriers, of class differences, of the scourge of race stereotyping will help an awakening world to flourish in the climate of the New Media. The exchange of blogs will not only transcend geography it will create a new honesty that will allow bigotry to be spotted quickly and the concepts of too narrow-minded traditions to be reduced to a status of irrelevance. Minds can finally express themselves without fear of repercussions from state-sanctioned censorship. Our self-imposed differences are steadily becoming less obvious, the exchange of thoughts and ideas are breaking down the barriers of prejudices and help expand the borders of our countries, to eventually become one entity, no longer defined by patriotic divisions. Cultural differences will cease to be an impediment to mutual understanding but will rather be an asset to be cherished by all of us. Alliances and friendships will be forged that hitherto were unthinkable. Thoughts of aggression, fostered by testosterone driven political leaders will increasingly become an aberration and the strength of people’s desires to live in peace will trump the hate mongers, the dispenser of yesteryear’s intellectual goods and the plotters of intolerance.
    This scenario is not just wishful thinking, we are smack in the middle of it. People who so far had no voice and whose lives seemingly had little relevance will now be heard; they are now contributing to a global narrative that someday will be the foundation of a new world order.
    With best regards.
    Horst

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