CK Prahalad’s ‘India@75’

Recently, the Thinkers 50 2007, the new ranking, produced by Suntop Media in association with Skillsoft placed CK Prahalad at number one as the most influential living management thinker of the time. Prahalad has come out his dream plan called India@75. And according to him, India@75 may be very ambitious but achievable.

CK Prahalad believes that India has the potential to actively participate in shaping the emerging world order. But India must acquire enough economic strength, technological vitality and moral leadership to do so. Here are six targets of India@75:

1. India builds a base of 200 million college graduates-that is just 16 per cent of India’s population. I would like to see 500 million certified and skilled technicians and universal literacy. This is possible in 15 years, if leaders focus on this goal as a priority.

2. India must become the home for at least 30 of the Fortune 100 firms.

3. India accounts for 10 per cent of global trade
4. India becomes a source of global innovations-new businesses, new technologies and new business models. The bottom of the pyramid, the 800 million Indians, can become a major source of breakthrough nnovations.

5. India aims to have 10 Nobel prize winners, prreferrably for the work done in India-unlike Indians getting the Nobel Prize for the work done elsewhere.

6. India becomes the world’s benchmark on how to leverage diversity.and a benchmark for the practice of universality and inclusiveness with its unique opportunity as a home to all the major religions, 15 major languages and hundreds of dialects, and a complex range of cultures, food habits and rituals-all the diversity one can hope for. If India is not the laboratory to practice diversity and inclusiveness, nobody else is.

Prahalad elaborates why he thinks, India@75 as achievable.

In 1929, when Congress declared Poorna Swaraj as the goal, did it seem likely?

The Green revolution, the White (milk) revolution-and the development of space technology are all worthy inspiring successes.

When in 1994, I suggested to a select group of CEOs that they must build multinational firms from India (Indian MNCs) rather than be paralysed by the entry of multinationals in the Indian market, it looked far-fetched. Very few, if any Indian, CEOs thought it was possible at that time. Today, Indian MNCs are a reality.

Similarly, 10 per cent growth and 10 million new jobs per year (10/10 programme) looked impossible in 2000. The idea was ridiculed. One was reminded of the traditional Hindu rate of growth of 3-5 per cent. But India is growing at close to 10 per cent; some states are growing at 15 per cent plus. India is yet to generate 10 million new jobs a year. But that can happen if we put our mind to it.

It was just 10 years ago that most managers and politicians had declared manufacturing in India as a dead end. “We have no hope against China,” they said. Today, manufacturing is alive and well and growing rapidly. India is becoming a manufacturing hub. Exports of manufactured goods are at $91 billion (Apr. ’07-Feb. ’08) and growing at more than 15 per cent. Others are taking note. Investments by Hyundai, Nissan, Ford, and Nokia are a small indication that not just Indians but others also believe that India can build excellence in manufacturing.

India was not known for its quality. Today, many Indian firms have demonstrated that they do not lag behind anyone in quality-be it in software development, manufacturing fine chemicals for pharmaceutical industry or in automotive component manufacturing.

Western models do not easily fit with the needs of Indian markets; especially as we focus on straddling the economic pyramid. The challenge is to build “world class products and services” at a new price-performance level (new value equation) that has never been tried before by established MNCs. India has a very large number of examples-$30 cataract surgery (Aravind Eye hospital), $2,500 car (Tata Nano), $0.01 cell phone minute (Airtel), $0.01 shampoo in a sachet (Hindustan Unilever), or $25 micro loans. Many such experiments demonstrate that we can straddle the pyramid and that this can be done commercially. We can “do good and do well”.

India should not replicate the development process of the West or China. India must leapfrog. Simply stated: avoid landlines, go wireless; avoid paper ballots, go electronic; avoid bank branches, go mobile and digital.

Is it not an awefully inspiring, providing hope to all that I keep on writing in my blog?

PS: The Thinkers 50 2007 list is still dominated by North Americans (37 of the 50 gurus are from the United States). While CK Prahalad is at number 1, three more thinkers of Indian origin are Ram CHARAN at 22, Vijay GOVINDARAJAN at 23, and Rakesh KHURANA at 45 in the Top 50. As yet, no Chinese guru has emerged.

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