India – is it a gigantic success or a colossal failure?

India is a nice house on a bad street” – J.P. Morgan

An introductory 5-minute speech was recently given in London at an event, by a young professional of Indian origin. His name is Dhritiman Biswas (author/speaker).

He spoke, extempore, and the points are reproduced here. The topic was a round-table debate on: “India – is it a gigantic success or a colossal failure?”

This is what he said:

“Ladies and Gentleman,

I am glad I am merely introducing the debate and not participating in it as, in my humble opinion, the question itself is wrong.

India, unlike, many western paradigms cannot be analysed in black and white, in linear equations or algorithms such as this.

We hate Test Cricket yet we are the No.1 Test Cricket ranked country; Our ranking in gender diversity is 134, yet the majority of our bank CEOs – the most misogynistic yet of industries – are women; Our health services creak and crumble, yet 36% of all the UK’s NHS consultants are Indians;

We love Bollywood tamashas(shows), yet the New York Philharmonic concert sold out in 5 minutes in Calcutta;

We struggle with illiteracy, yet are the largest English-speaking country in the world; We riot, fight and squabble, yet remain a thriving democracy whilst Russia, Arabia, Brazil, Pakistan, et al labour under authoritarianism;

Our Poverty Index suggests we are a hopeless failure, yet our mobile-phone usage however may indicate a resounding success;
and our private sector defaults diabolically like Kingfisher but spectacularly turned around JLR – like TATA.

India is a concept devised by the British and therefore in many ways a contradiction, a process , a work in progress.

We like the things they did for us; we don’t care for the things that they did to us.

The question in this debate cannot be answered because it is the wrong question to ask.

The right question is – can India be allowed to fail ?

JP Morgan elegantly points to the ruins of emerging markets and says India is like a nice house in a bad street!
I would go further.
The western world is founded on the principles of a liberal, free-market, democracy. Outside the OECD and the western Anglo-Saxon Protestant world – literally in the entire globe – there is one other example of this experiment and that is India.

We are the West and England’s most natural ally. We speak the language, sing Beatles songs, read P.G. Wodehouse and want to grow up to be Sherlock Holmes.

Despite our many failings we are a giant and a colossus and for the sake of the world let’s hope we succeed.
Thank you!

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