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Bright Indians driving a growing economy

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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The pace at which the Indian economy has been growing and the projections for future growth have ignited a new passion among the natives, which officials hope will translate into more progress.

The Indian economy grew by 4.7 per cent in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and 4.4 per cent for the same period in 2013-2014. Economists are heartened by the projection of no less an organisation than the International Monetary Fund that by 2014-15, growth would have progressed to 5.4 per cent, and up to 6.4 per cent the fiscal year after.

The Indian population is youthful, with figures showing that a mere 9.9 per cent of the 1.2 billion people is above age 65, making it one of the youngest in the world.

In recent years, as part of a programme by legislators to improve education and prepare the workforce for the economic assignments ahead, millions of young people have been trained in all areas of professional life, particularly in the information technology (IT) sector that has been moving at a merry canter.

The natural ability of young Indians allows them to easily grasp what is being taught and use that talent to further strengthen the knowledge base of the country, analysts have argued.

"Indians are well-educated, they learn fast, we export a lot of human talent and they do well overseas," said economist Bakr Gopalsingh.

But what makes the Indians so bright?

"It's just like a passion that keeps us going," said Anjan Jayasimha, the account manager for ADFACTORS PR, a knowledge-driven communications company in Bangalore.

"We are naturally bright people, but more than that, we set certain goals as a priority and work on achieving those goals," said Jayasimha, who is in his mid-20s.

Journalists from eight developing countries were invited to the populous Asian country by the Indian Government recently, to view, first-hand, some of the new initiatives that were being pursued by the political administration and get a feel of what Indian life and culture are all about.

Amidst obvious poverty in some sections of large cities such as Delhi, the capital with 15 million inhabitants, and Bangalore, with its 8.7 million people, the pace of positive movement clearly stood out, especially in the areas of commerce, agriculture, and IT.

For young people like Jayasimha, the support of the State is always crucial in harnessing the raw talent that is available to lay strong foundations for future development.

That State support, the executive said, must be maintained if India's progress at home and in the eyes of the global marketplace is to be energised.

"As young people we get strong support from the Government, especially from the leadership of the various states... support like scholarships to pursue our goals and after that, placements in jobs. We still have a lot to develop," Jayasimha said.

India's bright young people, too, are anxiously awaiting more than the waving of a magic wand by the country's 15th Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first leader to get a majority vote for the Bharatiya Janta Party on its own. Modi took office last May 26, and expectations are already high.

The Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation programme, one of the agencies of the country's ministry of external affairs (foreign affairs), is depending on enhancing its image globally, what with its lively capacity-building, knowledge exchange and training programme that has reached 161 countries.

When India turns 68 on August 15 this year, its political leaders will again list a string of achievements that it has attained since wresting its hand from British rule in 1947.

"The country is looking better as the years go by. We had a setback, like so many other countries, when the global economic crisis hit us about five years ago," said economist Neerja Bhatia of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

"Many Indians who have lived abroad for many years, and even the younger ones who have spent short times overseas, are returning home in large numbers to play their part in rebuilding the Indian economy," Bhatia said.

A country that prides itself on its democracy, India is keen to further facilitate freedom of expression and is presently expanding its reach through the facilitation of more media entities in what appears to be an already crowded arena, according to State Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Environment, Forest, Climate Change, and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Prakash Javadekar.

"There has already been an eight to nine per cent growth in the print media; 10 per cent in electronic media and 17 per cent in the film industry. We have over 100,000 registered publications in India and now the thrust on Government is developing social media," Javadekar said.

"There is an element of connecting with the masses, and even the prime minister checks his own e-mails personally.

"We are even now working on trying to get a network outside of India to connect with the diaspora, because we have the largest diaspora.

"Cable TV networks in India are spreading, viewership is increasing day by day; there are 60,000 local cable operators and over 800 radio channels, public and private. Now, more than 116 million homes in India have television and at least 80 per cent of them have access to cable. There are 900 million mobile phones and the companies that sell ring tones are making a lot of money," Javadekar said.

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