This piece was published in a college newspaper.
India has a population nearly four times as large as that of the United States, and a landmass about one-third the size to fit that massive group.
Just think about that for a second. While the U.S. GDP growth rate is hovering around the zero mark, India’s is raging at an average of about 7 percent annually. What does this mean? It means India is growing as if it were on natural steroids. It also means that if you can spot the opportunities, you probably shouldn’t miss the party.
All right, let me come clean: My objective is to encourage you to scout for opportunities to travel and live in India for at least a period of three months. I’ll make a case for the economy, geopolitical significance and culture of India.
First, let’s discuss the economic opportunity. Recently I was in Philadelphia, attending the Wharton India Economic Forum. I heard Ron Sommers, the president of the U.S.-India Business Council, speak. According to Sommers, the India’s annual energy consumption per capita is about three times less than the world average and is close to fourteen times less than that of the United States. This gap is bound to be bridged — if not to a level on par with America, at least to a level on par with the current world average — in the decades ahead.
Try to fathom the significance of India’s economy, brimming with a population of 1.2 billion, when this gap is finally bridged. Businesses are bound to interact with this massive economy in the future, and you can already see the trends emerging right now. Exactly a year ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley took a delegation to India — the first ever by anyone in his position in the state — and closed about $60 million in business deals.
By 2050, Goldman Sachs predicts that India could be the third-largest economy in the world, behind China and the U.S., respectively. My vision is that having prior “India experience” will be a distinct way to differentiate yourself from the millions of other job-seekers in the market today.
Second, for those of you vying for jobs in the government, India is going to be a key U.S. ally in the decades to come. Geographically, India is located near Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, all key countries in which the U.S. has heavy strategic and geopolitical interests. Really, as the single large democracy in the region, India is the only potential ally the U.S. can turn to in order to leverage its presence. On an individual level, if you understand the culture and economy of India, wouldn’t you be able to market yourself to the federal government as an asset?
Third, India is a cultural phenomenon. With most of the world’s religions practiced without inhibition, nearly 800 distinct languages spoken and vast regional differences among the people, India has been an anomaly in its survival as a democracy for 65 long years. Acquiring a taste for this culture will definitely take you on a journey that will be personally enlightening as well as one that is sure to be resume-worthy.
Sure, India is marred by social, governmental and economic problems. But what country isn’t? Better yet, with more than 600 million largely aspirational and progressive Indians under the age of 25, the politics and societal dynamic of the country is headed, certainly, in a positive direction. That, too, should make it apparent: You probably don’t want to miss the party.