The conviction of modern times and the emerging post-Pulwama essence made Mr Gautam Chikermane look back at the philosophy of Kapila’s Samkhya and Sri Aurobindo to understand the churning spirit of India. The resultant product was India 2030: The Rise of a Rajasic Nation, a volume that served as the topic of the book discussion hosted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Nehru Centre. The panellists and moderator—all contributors to the book—expressed a conjoint belief in how our change in spirit will shape its future premise.
The book, which forecasts the direction of India, marks several shifts in the status quo.
Dr Bibek Debroy provided an intriguing assessment about young India, the idea of socialism, and the Constitutional pressures. He went on to discuss how his forecasts look at the long-term trends for today’s risk-taking generation, which has started to question several structural premises. When questioned by Dr Samir Saran if debates on income equality constituted this trend, Dr Debroy clarified that under those circumstances, the key question would be the metrics that drive the economic balance.
Dr Saran broadened the scope of values by understanding Prof. Amrita Narlikar’s vision for the multilateral order. Prof. Narlikar underlined how economic ties have increasingly weaponised global value chains. She sought to pull India out of the corner it has been pushed into at forums such as the World Trade Organisation while providing a push to its macro values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Dr Saran and Prof. Narlikar agreed that the risk of extreme nationalism across countries overshadowed a culture of unity.
Dr Saran shifted tracks to India’s jobs quagmire as Mr Manish Sabharwal forecasted a rapid rise in productivity and formalisation. From an employer’s perspective, Mr Sabharwal pointed out how ‘regulatory cholesterol’ had made capital and labour handicapped with respect to one another. Dr Saran was eager to understand if regulatory mess will subside, to which Mr Sabharwal lays out how this is the only possibility left to exploit and was supported by Dr Debroy as the natural next step.
Talking about the poor beyond jobs, Dr Saran tried to envision the future of financial services. Ms Monika Halan developed on her many first-hand references to lay the dream of increased synergy between finance, technology, and India’s entrepreneurial spirit that we are living. On the role of regulators in the ecosystem, Ms Halan explained how digital public utilities had defined the past decade and how a customer-led focus will help regulators and policymakers chart the next one, much to the delight of Mr Sabharwal.
Mr Amish Tripathi, explained how the learnings from ancient India would pave the path for the country going forward and summarised the belief in the existence of many truths and, as a result, the long tradition of inclusiveness and justice. This opens the path for true liberalism. Even the liberals in the West also come from the concept of one truth, that their position of liberalism is true liberalism, “and the rest of us, pagans, heathens, or whatever they want to call us, we have to fall in line to their version of liberalism. How’s that different from extremism?” he asked.
In closing, Mr Chikermane clarified that his idea of a Rajasic India is one of several ideas of India. It is a hypothesis, he said. It uses data but is not limited by it, it uses anecdotes but is not overwhelmed by them. The Rajasic force, he said, is the underlying power driving all other aspects of India, from politics to economy, from culture to technology. But this too is only a step towards the next milestone towards becoming a ‘Satvic nation,’ and the potential subject of another book.
This event report has been compiled by Nakul Gupta, Research Intern, ORF
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