Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breaking the wall

A social scientist’s understanding of two countries that have misunderstood each other. As much intriguing as enlightening, Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India are Reshaping their Futures and Yours by Harvard Professor Tarun Khanna contrasts and compares the two Asian giants and how they have been taking on the world — amply supplemented by on-ground stories and anecdotes.

At a discussion based on the book, the author was joined by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and MD, Biocon and market strategist Rama Bijpurkar and an audience that included ex-diplomats and his students. Much research, travels and ‘shock’ have gone into the writing of the book which Amartya Sen had described as ‘fun to read’.

Khanna, who considers himself “strongly fortunate to have been educated in foreign institutions”, says the ‘shock’ came from the “lack of awareness about India and China in the West. That motivated me to tell the story in first person.”

A book of hope? “Very much so. Post-1962 conflict, India has been scared of China, which is an understandable emotion. As for China, India is irrelevant. Both the views are anachronistic. The book can hope to help China speak of India in a positive way. To shake both countries, it is an exploration, an optimistic look at things to come.”

Billions... could well be described a travelogue that delves deeply into the social, political and economic history of the tiger and the dragon. A look at entrepreneurship in both the countries. Khanna’s book is not bound to the cities. It goes into rural India as well as rural China. “We have lot of entrepreneurs in rural India, we need to actualise their self-potential,” he says. “I have visited NGOs in both the countries.

We have multiple points of contact. But we have to change mental models. There’s a need to harness positive energy.”

So how much of India does he know? “I grew up in India...” And how many subscribe to his views, “People don’t have to agree with it. But they need to know,” Khanna retorts.

By Anupama Ramakrishnan
Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Jul232008/metro-wed2008072280300.asp

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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