This year’s Indian Economic summit is very important. The world is changing every single day. For some, it has never been as good as it is today. For others, there is a real crisis out there. So what we need to know is: What is the leadership going to be from India?
India is a powerhouse. And while India has many challenges on the home front, diversity and human talent, especially having the youngest population on the planet, is one of its unique strengths. India must absolutely leverage this diversity.
Diversity also means that it is impossible to do everything from the center. You need to have very strong states that have a growth agenda, across the rural, semi-urban and urban areas. And a program that has the ability to deliver for its citizens while being one, strong country. For the world, it is enormously important to see that there is coherence between what the individual states are doing and what India as a country is presenting to the world.
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India is also very innovative country and has demonstrated that growth can be sustainable and green. But it absolutely must leverage the development of the digital economy for its growth to really be inclusive. I believe both can be done. India must continue bringing urban and rural areas together, building on the digital economy. But it also must bring these new models beyond the national agenda.
India today is a world player. It is a member of the G-20. It is not enough that India just put growth on its national agenda. It can no longer just look inward. Protectionism never works. The vision of India as a transparent, open country is far more attractive to the world than protectionism can ever offer. Given India’s rich democratic traditions and its intellectual horsepower, it could be a beacon of transparency, openness and frugal innovation to the world. Now is the time for India to actively think about the leadership role it wants to play.
So, I think India has a unique opportunity in the globe today. While there are massive home issues that really need a solution, India needs to combine these two realities and draw strength from them: India needs to play a global leadership role, the role that the world is expecting of her, while linking those global values, global behaviors and global ideas to the home front.
I stated last year that India has nothing to fear, but all to gain from being a leading force in the world. I still believe this holds true this year. The world is now looking for sustainable growth. The world is looking for leadership. And the world is looking for innovation.
So, what is the leadership going to be from India? The world is watching very closely how India will rise- I think it is a very unique opportunity right now for India to be in. India can be an inspiration both at home and to the world. And I believe India must absolutely seize this unique opportunity.
Ben Verwaayen is chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent.