First & foremost, elevating India to a Five Trillion Dollar economy is a journey & not a destination. India will become a Five Trillion Dollar economy anyway, but the big question is how fast! Can this journey be accelerated?
The answer probably lies in how inclusive our program is. How dispersed & how evenly can we reach across our geography & across verticals. How are we able to empower every nook & corner of the country, its populace & the various sections of the society? The answer lies in how we deal with rural India!
When we deal with rural India, which covers 65% of the population & when we work with them and for them and by them, then we will become a real potent force. Because we would have a strong foundation, even though we would have high aspirations.
Let us look at some of the enablers and revolutions for us.
The first is the IT revolution; it enabled India to emerge as a super power & now, along with our digital journey, can certainly provide the next generation of spark for the Indian economy. IT & digitalisation at a rural level can be a catalyst for uplifting the rural economy of India. Therefore, this is one big theme, which we should pursue. We should not be bogged by the fact that we need to connect the corners of India, but we must be energized by the fact that a connected India & the surging rural would make all the boats rise.
The second facet we need to think about is the financial revolution. In India, the rural population is yet not part of the financial revolution. SEWA, an organization, with 2.1 MN women, can provide a building block of a financial revolution across all the states of India. Most of our private banks are more metro centric than rural centric. If we make the last mile financial products and micro finance available to 65% of the population in a bigger way, it would really bolster the economy in a big way.
The third one is shortening the supply chain cycle. It would give us a huge amount of positive momentum. Now we buy material from the rural, bring it to the city or manufacturing hubs, for making the final output & then it goes back to the same rural market. Apart from time lag, we have seen the concerns around quality & preservation. We can cut through the cycle in India by forming shorter supply chain cycles around the rural market. Produced in rural, consumed in rural, processed in rural & thereby bringing the manufacturing & processing industry to rural can be our growth theme. Small scale processing is the next best & big thing that can happen because we should not compare cost only of the final output, but the total cost including supply and inventory management.
The fourth one is the education revolution. The education revolution would give a huge industry bias to the upliftment of the rural economy because 65% of the population would then be completely empowered. Right education can be the torch, which lightens the darkest corners of our economy. Thereby, digital & financial literacy & overall education can be the harbinger of our growth journey. To clarify, the focus should be on digital education. The same would be relatively easy to roll out & that would enable our womenfolk to be part of this revolution in a big way. Bringing schools to home can be the real game changer. That is where we should see mass customisation as a basis of future education expansion.
The last one is harnessing the power of women in our country. Women is the single largest segment, which is 50% of India. They must be empowered. We should engender a ‘by/for/of women’ rural revolution based on ‘All Above’ and India will Rise ‘Above All’, and then a Five Trillion is just a milestone & not a destination.