Saturday, September 15, 2007

India and its new grassroots

Technology, Biotech, outsourcing, manufacturing, the world has spoken about India taking a lead in at least these many sectors over the next few decades. The positioning is not entirely correct – I think we should be positioned as Entrepreneurs!

While at Bangalore recently, I met two passionate young entrepreneurs (both, coincidentally, carried the designation of ‘Founder’ in their visiting cards – a phenomena increasing sharply in incidence!) heading technology startups. The new grassroots of the new Indian turf was becoming evident in these profiles I examined. Both the companies were recently funded and wore a sheen & smell of fresh paint (figurative in one case, literal in the other) in their offices. The enthusiasm was palpable, and the mood buoyant and both companies were poised to change the world around them. This is the smell of the grassroots of the new India!

The first company, called Textual Analytics, headed by a linguist, before he went on to find the connection between software and language and decided to decode language. Noam Chomsky, a thought leader in language and also carrying the mantle of emeritus professor of linguistics at MIT, is sure to have a comment or two to make on the subject. But, this entrepreneur who heads Textual has firmly fixed his sights, maybe even a little irreverently, at changing the way language can be interpreted with the help of information technology.

The second company, i-Runway by name, is run by some young IIT-ISB graduates. They are joined by at least a few dozen 20-somethings from IIT (and as they proudly proclaim, they often beat Google in hiring these graduates!). As I understood it, they manage the patents lifecycle – from decoding the patents to filing them. Seeing them, Page & Brin would surely remember their initial days at Stanford. iRunway’s Bangalore office environment was replete with lounge chairs, bright colours & late hours all rolled into one.

So, what’s new - that’s the way all start-ups look! Well, the novelty comes from the fact that these are the new grassroots of the new India. After the companies of the west Banglored their way into India, and the manufacturing world took to Pune & Chennai (among other cities), a newly charged India is now visible. India’s entrepreneurial spirit will emerge as the epicenter of global growth over the next two decades. It is this uniqueness that perhaps will set the country at the driver’s seat of the world economy through the next couple of decades outpacing all predictions made so far.

Never has a nation been so desperate to change the world. This is the new India at the grassroots!

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