India at 2030: Rooted and connected
We probably cannot always see this, but we are living through a moment that is seeding what could well create a radically transformed nation by 2030.But what are these things? A reimagination of health is one. There are two things happening in India simultaneously that give its health systems and the industry its disruptive edge. India is rediscovering the importance of its traditional medicinal systems in Ayurveda, yoga and others, and making them relevant (dare one say even fashionable) for use today. In the process, it is even gaining the confidence to project and export them around the world. Between 2019 and 2020, exports of Ayurveda grew by 45%.
But it is not merely traditional medicine where India will be, or rather is, demonstrating leadership. The mass manufacture of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is an indication of the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing in India and it strengthens the role of the country as a medicine manufacturing hub at scale.
There is another aspect to health where India’s importance will grow in the coming decade—the country would have one of the biggest and demographically most diverse health databases in the world. Used innovatively, this resource could help definitively transform global research and show new digital-based health models used at scale. This is going to be even more powerful with ideas like the digital health stack for India and a digital health ID for Indian citizens.
The seeds of reforms and innovation are being planted today in everything, from infrastructure to the promotion of ‘one district, one product’ (ODOP). If you look carefully, the theme is to change India from the very grassroots. India seeks to reverse the gaze of globalisation in a sense—not just embracing the world as it has since the opening of the economy in 1991, but also confidently making the argument that it too has many goods and materials that would be valued by the world.
The ODOP programme for instance propels the idea, often heard in France, of terroir—things being valuable for they are unique to a location, a geography. The idea is to make every district in the country known for something unique, something that could be presented to the world. In a sense, this is what geographical indication or GI tagging is all about too. Reversing the gaze only begins when a country starts to appreciate and consume the best of its domestic fare even before they are marketed to the world. Vocal for local understands the spirit that consumption, like charity, must begin at home.
In infrastructure development, covering the length and breadth of India with tapped water for every household is as important as the revitalisation of the Indian railways and laying tens of thousands of kilometres of new highways is as vital as the building of a broadband network touching every hamlet in the country. Mass supply of clean water would, in the years to come, transform public health in India as it once did in the West. Road (along with rail and air) networks being laid today to connect the remotest corners of the country would lead to social and economic transformation as they almost always do—connectivity, more often than not, is prosperity.
2030 could see an India more connected than ever before. Digital payments would become the norm, replacing every other payment method. The United Payments Interface, already recognised as a pioneer in the world of democratised money transactions, could well become the backbone of many Indian products in financial technology or fintech. As it reforms its agriculture, India may well become one of the most important, if not the most important, food producers in the world, using its bountiful produce both economically and strategically.
The India of 2030 is being seeded today within the citizens using two big ideas—deeper connections to the civilisational roots of the country and integrated to the everyday seamless use of technology. In other words, the Indian of 2030 would be more rooted than ever in indigenous culture, our heritage and the use of traditional systems—but also more adept at the everyday use of technology, perhaps even in the disseminating of some of those ancient systems. It is customary at the beginning of a decade to gaze ahead to understand where one would be at the start of the next—and today it seems that in 2030, India would be in equal measures rooted and connected to its civilisation and in tune with relentless technological advancement.
Hindol Sengupta (email@example.com)
Vice President & Head of Research at Invest India, GoI’s national investment promotion agency