High Five – Imagining India, a Renewed Nation

From Bob GilesHigh Five from Handshake 2.0:

Thomas Friedman, inspired by Nandan Nilekani, wrote the profoundly influential book, The World Is Flat.  Friedman has written a foreword to Nilekani’s Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation.  This book will have similar effects.

Kingfisher by Nidhin GP I have been to India twice on projects. Captured by the book's title,  I read it searching for knowledge of a country I had come to love but also to see if I could find parallels with my hypothetical Imagining of the New River Valley of Virginia: The Idea of a Transformed Region.

Extremely well-written, Nilekani’s book should win awards for writing about complex, inter-related historical, religious, economic, educational, health, and environmental topics. He presents modern India, its roots, and timely analysis for that country, parts of which are still emerging from British rule. The vast country with its major differences and contradictions in religions, languages, castes, population densities, and natural resources has almost unbelievable problems, but they are given a personal depth, with abundant signs of change and improvement, and adequate caution and insightful analyses for what may come next.

As India may be emerging as the world’s next growth engine, I wonder how the New River Valley may be emerging, or think its wants to become. As is in the Valley, Nilekani found in India little common ground for priorities and incentives, but a sense, as I have here, that problems are increasing, merging, and coming to a head. The challenge is the same:  "…uniting our people and policy makers toward urgent and necessary solutions.”

Like Nilekani's nation, the New River Valley (or all of western Virginia) "…is as much an idea as it is a nation [region].” Understanding that idea and its influence on the people of the region and their progress now seems critical to me.

India's needs and those of our region seem quite similar:  “But India’s rapid economic growth is demanding much more innovative ideas from us as existing solutions for issues like health, energy and the environment have proved ineffective around the world. India cannot, for instance, have an energy policy that is based entirely on the heavy use of hydrocarbons. We should worry about the environment right now, rather that try like the developed countries to salvage it after industrialization has ripped through our natural resources.”

To imagine India and the New River Valley, I see these needs as mutual:  "…a sustainable, realistic social security system…and to "…ensure that our public health challenges do not swing, as they have in the developed world…from starvation to excess."


Photo credit:  Kingfisher by Nidhin GP


Robert H. Giles, Jr. writes High Five for Handshake 2.0.  The opinions Robert Giles expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients. 

Feel free to follow Robert H. Giles, Jr. on Twitter @Bob_Giles

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is a Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus with a vision for a rural land management system.  He writes two blogs, The Survivalists and Faunal Force

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