TED2009: Nandan Nilekani


Software entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani is on stage at TED2009. He's the author of the forthcoming Imagining India, "a radical re-thinking of one of the world's great economies."

He lists six factors that have contributed to why India is growing at rates never seen before:

1. India is going to have a demographic dividend – it will be the only young country in an aging world. If you don't invest in human capital it can become a demographic disaster.

2. Role of entrepreneurs in India, once thought of as exploiters, but now they are role models

3. English was seen as language of imperialists, but now the language is a huge strategic asset.

4. Computers were once seen as reducing jobs, but now technology is considered empowering.

5. Indians are comfortable with globalization.

6. India has had deepening of its democracy. 60 years ago it was an elite concept. But now it is a bottom up process. It has become embedded.

He presents four ideas that have been accepted but not implemented:

1. Education — oral culture, religion. Bit gov't schools don't function. Even in slums 50% of kids go to private schools.

2. Infrastructure — now becoming accepted, needs to be implemented.

3. Cities — Gandhi believed in villages, Empire believed in cities, so India ignored cities. But cities are being accepted as engines of growth an innovation.

4. India as a single market. Before every province had it own market for things.

He gives three ideas in conflict, which are creating gridlock:

1. Ideology of caste

2. Labor policies making it difficult for entrepreneurs to allow people into workforce with a new set of labor laws that create jobs for millions

3. Higher education — hard to start new universities

And three ideas India needs to anticipate:

1. E-governance

2. Health — bad heart problems, diabetes, obesity

3. Problem of entitlements – social security, medical. Need

4. Environmental concerns. How to keep the country and world clean while India grows.