The Next Two Decades for India

I have been observing economic and technological trends for a fairly long time now, especially the past twenty years have been very eventful and full of surprises. I am sure the next twenty years are going to be the defining period of humanity on this earth, at least during our lifetimes.

Why is that, you might ask ? What is so different in these coming two decades that we have not seen or experienced so far ?

Even for the average Joe, the life is going to be very different. For techno-geeks, some of the best times are coming. World’s economic centre is going to shift by the end of these two decades. Demographic forces at work currently would have such a big effect that it is unimaginable. World is going to be very different. Even politics and political science will change (hopefully for the better).

While it is hard to predict with any kind of precision, it is now very clear that technology is going to play a major role in our lives – be it the ordinary day-to-day lives of citizens, or the business lives or the political lives. We can almost call that as “domination” of technology over our lives. The widespread use of technology will inevitably change everything we do. Millions and Billions of people who are currently untouched by technology will be covered by its influence, and will get to use technology to extract maximum from their existence. These are broad conjectural liberalizations, but some specifics are as follows :

* India and China together will form the largest consuming public population in the world, dictating global consumption and fashion trends for manufacturers and designers world-wide : instead of keeping the Western consumer only in their minds, manufacturers would now first design their products and services for this population and achieve mass customization, leading to product variants at a lower cost for the other populations in the world

* India will have the youngest population in the world, with the average age of its citizens in mid to late twenties, while other countries especially the developed ones will have their populations at an average age of late thirties to forties, and some countries would just have late forties to fifties such as Japan for instance. Given this shift in the demographics, it would become critical to assess the needs of this young population which would dictate consumption trends

* The average annual income per capita of this young population in India would well exceed USD 5,000 thereby opening up a vast consumption of goods and services. Young Indians would choose to stay in India, and the wealthy ones might even decide to get educated in India since international schools will be operating in India. The consumption economy would expand rapidly and become the second biggest in the world, after China’s.

* Education and literacy would become widespread and India would become stronger in the use of English in all aspects of life. The availability of high quality international education in India and the vastly increased number of Indian institutions would facilitate access to education for all of India’s aspiring young population.

* Adaptation of technology in India would be faster as we have the benefit of hindsight in whatever we do. Instead of 3G, we might go into 4G and 5G type of high bandwidth mobile access to data. Transactions will increasingly be done on mobile handsets. Citizens will interact with all service providers via secure mobile access.

* Today we have 4 Indian companies in Fortune 500. In twenty years, we will see 50. Global Headquarters will be in India not only for these Indian companies, but many non-Indian companies will shift their headquarters to India as it would be the largest market for their products. And, hopefully, doing business in India will be much easier than it is today.

* Infrastructure would be far better, though behind that of the Western countries. However, it would be some 20 times better than what exists today. Airports, seaports, roads, connectivity will all be much, much better with the result some international airlines would use India as the hub. Exports and Imports would get much easier due to better port infrastructure with turnaround times comparable to Singapore or Hong Kong.

* Corruption might not exist, but even if it does exist, it would be replaced by e-corruption. Politicians would be savvy enough to transact all their business over the net, and would invest in extensive cyber security solutions. They would avoid any personal meetings with media.

* TV would mostly be replaced by the internet / internet TV, or would be enabled totally by digital content. Home entertainment systems would undergo a sea change. Information would follow the individual wherever he goes. Once paid for, digital content would be made available at any number of devices a person would use in daily life.

* Today India has some 400 consumer air flights on top of our heads at any time. This would become some 3,000 – in comparison, in the U.S. at any time, there are some 4,000 flights in flight. This would also mean a dramatic increase in the number of planes – both public and private – in India.

* Mumbai would become a global financial power house, ahead of Singapore and Hong Kong, just behind London and New York. It will have all the global financial institutions. At least 5 Indian banks will become truly global.

* India will have bullet trains connecting at least the metro cities. At 300 KMPH or more, these trains would give a run for the money to flights. It would help enhance the economic productivity of the hinterland through which the trains will move, might require huge investment though.

* India will have a surplus of power, it would have in excess of 400 GW. Nuclear power plants would be functional contributing at least 30 GW out of this power capacity.

In a nutshell, we will see that India becomes one of the key global players with its economy a key constituent of the global economy.


Vijay Srinivasan
2nd January 2011


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