The story goes that a group of Jesuits came to Goa in 1556 and brought with them a printing press which was already being used for more than a 100 years in Europe. In order to impress Shahenshah Akbar who was then ruling India, the Jesuits printed a polyglot bible and presented it to the king. Akbar, it is said, was not impressed at all. Printing was not considered seriously by the Moghul aristocracy who patronized Muslim scribes and manuscript illuminators. The Moghuls ruled India but hardly understood modernization or industry. India which was a super power economy accounting for at least a quarter of global GDP for hundreds of thousands of years began its downward spiral in this era due to the antiquated ways of her rulers.
Over the next 400 years from 1550 to 1950, India went through centuries of darkness even as the world grew by leaps and bounds due to the industrial revolution. It is remarkable indeed that merely 64000 Brits lorded over 27 Crore Indians even at the peak of the British Raj in 1931 (a total of 168000 Brits lived in India then, but 78000 were family dependents and 26000 worked in the private sector). The passive servility of Indians towards their white masters despite intellectual, philosophical and spiritual superiority dealt a severe blow to this ancient superpower.
Yet, even as recently as just a hundred years ago, India’s exports were more than double that of China and nearly 10 times more than that of Japan. The Nehru dynastic rule and covert Marxism of four decades (until P.V. Narasimha Rao rescued India in 1991) achieved what even the British couldn’t – that of complete economic annihilation of India.
Throughout these decades of darkness, post-independence, Indian obsession with the white-skinned Caucasians continued unabated. We generally tended to believe that the West was far superior to us on all fronts. Then, in 1991, history was turned accidentally. P.V. Narasimha Rao was the first break from the Gandhi dynasty and the debilitating socialist past. He literally rescued India from being a nation of house maids and set us on a path of economic resurgence.
Today when we see that the once powerful European nations like Norway and Denmark are merely equivalent to one Indian city, it dawns upon us that India is finally moving towards her true destiny by overcoming the obsession with fair skinned western overlords. To that extent, 2014 was also a breakthrough moment when India finally rejected the Italian born Sonia and instead chose an OBC Chaiwala to guide the future of this great civilization.
Two of the cities in that top 10 list belong to that same Chaiwala’s home state where he built the now famous “Gujarat model” of development that powered him to become the Prime Minister of India. The skew though is quite obvious. 80% or 8 out of the top 10 economies of India are found in western and southern zones while only Delhi and Kolkata represent the North and the East respectively. Prime Minister Modi’s task is cutout, he needs to ensure that the North and the East breakaway from its socialist/communist past and create hyper economies of the future.
India’s rise to become a true global power also needs to be chronicled through better narrative constructs. The intelligentsia that loves to paint a nation full of poverty and strife needs to wake up to this new India. This nation is not just about intolerance or communal flare-ups or cow vigilantism or Karni Sena. Indians are now a self-confident race who want to take on the world on their own terms. India has changed, the reportage also needs to be changed.
For instance, since 2015, we have been reading screaming headlines about Cambodia being the new ‘Tiger Economy’ of Asia powering itself to record GDP growth through what is now famously termed as “Factory Asia” model. Sometimes, these headlines create factual dissonance which needs to be put in context. All that big talk about Cambodia pales in comparison when we realize that it is nothing but the size of Surat in Gujarat. One Indian city and the Gujarat model is all it takes to overpower an Asian Tiger Economy.
India is at a unique point of the world’s history. Between 2005 and 2025, in just 20 years, India’s consumption would have grown by 1000%. Rarely has any large economy with such a large demographic dividend grown at such a pace. India’s journey to global superpowerdom has only just begun. The only aim that India should now have is to become the Vishwa Guru, rest is all noise.