Indian publishing has bloomed to such a maturity that there are frequently magazine issues that are collectibles. The quality of their production, the themes they focus on and the information
they pack almost rival well produced books. It's a pity therefore that they are not reviewed with
at least some seriousness .
BusinessWorld is now a weekly magazine and is a consistently smart production. But
goodnewsindia feels that its Special Millennium Issue [Jan. 17, 2000] is a particularly inspired job.
The theme is that in the coming knowledge economy India's place will be pre-eminent. Tony Joseph, the editor who is responsible for re-inventing the magazine leads off with
a cheerful editorial, 'the Turning Point' and his first sentence is: "Will this be an Indian Century, in the sense that the 20th century was the American century?"
The last sentences in the issue seem to answer the question: "This land will prosper. Our people will once again discover the Upanishadic dictum: Prajnanam Brahma. Knowledge is God."
Between these pages the issue packs enough to fill an Indian with cautious optimism.
Dwijottam Bhattarcharjee in the lead article surveys the roadmap ahead of India and argues how its present position on
this map is more promising than ever before on its journey. Indians are beginning to be visible everywhere. Once mere back-room boys they are today leaders in management, research, design and consulting. Other trends also favour India. Once creating shrink-wrapped software products
was the unattainable last link in the value chain; today
it is network delivered services that are in vogue and Indian software companies are strong in this technology. PC's costs deterred their proliferation in India; today's thin-clients offer a truly affordable solution. Telecom infrastructure on the ground is pathetic but wireless systems can leap-frog the time and cost gaps. The article is also peppered with exciting facts: there is not a major telecom company that
does not have a development centre in India; Motorola's Bangalore centre has generated several patented products used world-wide; 14% of pharma research workers in the USA are Indian; Draper International, a venture fund will look at proposals only if Indians spearhead it; computer programmers coming out of NIIT and Aptech are greater in number than those produced by all government colleges! The
straws in the wind are thick and fast.
Is the miracle at hand? Ashok Desai vehemently and Sridhar Iyengar gently present the realities we face and how hard the road ahead is, but neither deny that we stand facing a huge opportunity.
There are numerous thumbnails of new businesses started by Indians that show great promise . K V Kamath the CEO of ICICI shares his vision of the future for the benefit of other leaders of Indian industry- how the 'new economy' has new benchmarks to value a business.
Is the government aware of the changes it must acccept if India is to meet with
success? An article argues there are indeed stirrings of hope here too. Chandrababu Naidu is hustling his state, Andhra Pradesh to a new world. Several
bureaucrats are finding freedom to implement progressive ideas using modern technology. After narrating these instances the magazine has a list of do's and dont's for the government if it is serious about India's future.
'...can deliver in India!'
The most delightful read comes last. Antoine Bakhache, a Swiss realised early that India was his future. He came here and set up the Pizza Corner chain, a decision which baffled his friends originally. The lessons he has learnt: The government is reasonable, there is more of India beyond Mumbai and Delhi, Indians are smart and reliable, you can promise and deliver in India, give back to the community to win hearts, phones and technology work in India and, loving and caring for your people works.
Polite words from a foreigner? Well, Antoine has been here since 1996 and today is a thriving member of the Indian pizza industry that's growing at 300% annually !
It's doubtful if you will get to see a copy of this issue of BusinessWorld in our throwaway society. It's worth heading for the pavement shops to see if you can get hold of it. If you do, preserve it!