Hello and welcome to Bharatiyata!, a website that aims to help Westerners understand India – or Bharat, as the Indians know it. This site, which I hope will develop into a useful resource, is more specifically for Western investors, businesses and entrepreneurs (and of course anybody else) interested in becoming involved in a country which now – in early 2016 – has officially the fastest growing economy in the world at more than 7% per annum.
As I will demonstrate in future posts, over the next 20 years India is going to take its place amongst the economic superpowers. The USA, China and India between them will lead the world by 2035 but the order in which they will rank at that date is still under discussion. It is entirely possible that India will be in second or even more-or-less joint first place.
For this to happen India requires enormous development over the next two decades and a lot of the money for it will come from the West. With the sort of growth that is in the pipeline for the subcontinent, India will be the most rewarding territory in the world in which to invest for the foreseeable future.
And yet there is much reluctance, hesitation and misunderstanding surrounding India. A lot of this comes from a basic lack, not of hard data so much as a practical and dynamic overall picture of its government, laws, cultural character, diversity, history and so on. Were that commonly available it might make potential investors more comfortable about getting involved and placing a bet on India’s future.
The seed of the idea for this website was planted soon after I visited Shanghai in the summer of 2015, exactly one week after the Chinese stock market crash had started. I was there to give a talk at a hedge fund forum hosted by a major international bank. Afterwards, I was sitting in the 58th floor rooftop bar of a hotel overlooking the city, chatting to a California-based British hedge fund owner. His lament to me was that there was endless information available on China but almost nothing about India.
Of course that is not exactly true: there is a vast amount of information about India easily accessible to whoever wants it. For example the website of the Indian Ministry of Statistics contains everything anyone might need to know about what is happening in the Indian economy online – and it is eminently trustworthy, unlike statistics from certain other sovereign states.
Likewise there is a vast and rambunctious free press and media, again unlike certain other countries, and book publishing and bloggers and anything else you could possibly think of. On the whole, though, Westerners don’t go to these sites and read and listen and investigate, perhaps just because there is so much of it; and the country is just so vast it is a world unto itself. India can appear to speak too rapidly or idiomatically, as it were, to be intelligible to outsiders.
In other words it is difficult to make head or tail of what on earth is going on. Who is who in this alphabet of political parties? What emotionally charged historical event is being referred to there and why is everybody so angry about it? Who is that person and what does the term, ‘communal’, mean? What do those initials stand for? Where is that city? What does ‘pradesh’ mean? What’s a ‘crore’ and a ‘lakh’? etc etc.
India may be wonderful and frustrating, intriguing and maddening, but above all it needs explaining, and that is what I am going to do, with a certain narrow intent as explained above. The editorial filter on Bharatiyata! is a simple one: India for Westerners. When I talk about the mechanisms of the Indian government, for example, I will compare it to the US Congress or Westminster rather than examine it in isolation. I’ll do this with each topic, perhaps explaining how India resembles such and such a country but differs in certain ways and why. It is a comparative method that I hope will help foreigners to grasp whatever I am describing.
Bharatiyata! will also be dynamic. From my point of view, and partly the reason I have started this site and decided to make a personal commitment to it, is that India is now on a multi-decade journey to reach its destination as a world-leader politically, economically and culturally. I believe that the planet will be better off as a result; that’s why I am so enthusiastic. (I like Indians but I also want my son to inherit a better world when he grows up.) So by ‘dynamic’ I mean that the sort of knowledge I am trying to communicate here is not fixed facts but practical information for present purposes. The facts will change as time goes on, and I hope Bharatiyata! will come to be a record of how India is developing or, to continue the metaphor, travelling.
‘Dynamic’ also means seeing India within its web of relationships with its neighbours and countries further afield, so there will be categories of posts including countries such as Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan, for example, and (eventually) categories dealing with geostrategy and trade. Again, the editorial filter will be the one of how a subject affects India and especially those doing business with it.
I estimate the timeline for India’s journey to world prominence to be twenty years minimum. At any rate that is how long I would ideally like Bharatiyata! to last, and if the Almighty will allow me to be here to see it, we will take stock in 2036. I am inaugurating the site with a call to action on a particular project you can read about in another post, and it will be interesting to discover where, if anywhere, that project has gotten to in a couple of decades’ time.
So despite its name this website is not for Indians. They are naturally as welcome to visit as everyone else, but Bharatiyata! is for friends of India: a tribe I devoutly hope will increase in size over the years.