Economic Times

Economic Times, Mumbai, Oct 15 2009, by Vithal C Nadkarni

At the launch of Gurcharan Das’s latest book based on readings of the Mahabharata in Mumbai, that Seer of Software, Jaithirth `Jerry’ Rao, alluded to a widely held belief about the epic in India. Unlike the Ramayana, which is believed to bring happy augury to any home, the Mahabharata is frowned upon as a book that invariably brings strife and distress.


Indians have good reasons to feel confident. Our economy has grown 5.9 percent per year since 1980, making it the fifth fastest growing major economy in the world over a 23 year period; this is not a case of one swallow making a summer. We may be well behind China, but remember that the West created its Industrial Revolution at a 3 percent growth rate over 100 years. More recently, our population growth has begun to slow, and in 1998 it was down to 1.7 percent compared to its historic 2.2 percent growth rate. Literacy has also begun to climb—it reached 65 percent in 2000 compared to 52 percent in 1990, with the biggest gains taking place among women and the backward states. More than 200 million Indians have risen out of destitution since 1980 as the poverty ratio has declined to 26 percent. And we may have finally found our competitive advantage in our booming software and IT services. Finally, all this has happened amidst the most appalling governance; imagine, what might happen if governance improved.