High Five – A Stretch? India and the New River Valley Region

From Bob GilesHigh Five from Handshake 2.0:

In Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation, Nandan Nilekani has wisely said that “looking at our problems through the prism of ideas” can help us see things that limit us.

Nilekani spoke of the agricultural crisis  in India, but such a prism is a figure of speech useful in exploring the Roanoke, New River, and western Virginia region and its future. Nilekani placed his cards for India on the table and our game is the same: The way forward for growth is in expanding access to resources and opportunity. People need open access to health facilities, clean water, basic infrastructure, jobs, and capital, a reliable social security system, and good schools.

Southern Hill Myna Bird by Nidhin GP Like some mindless choir behind a skilled speaker, to Nilekani's multi-faceted music, I must sound the Virginia region’s chorus of “us, too”:

  • Our advances will be not in our discoveries but in how we apply them to reduce inequality and improve access. (p.20)
  • We have unique advantages now, and we have far more to gain than lose by embracing globalization. (p.21)
  • We have to overcome the public service culture that prizes process and precedence over progress and results. (p.22)
  • IT (information technology) can bring equity, efficiency, and effectiveness into the public sector – bypassing inefficient government systems, bringing improved quantification and measurement to objectives and outcomes, and gaining transparency to expenditures. (p.23)

Not belaboring the large population of India, Nilekani proposed the idea of human population as an asset rather than a burden arising with knowledge-base industries, IT, telecommunication, and biotechnology, and coupled it with the delightful idea that the information economy is the culmination of the Industrial Revolution, putting human capital as the main driver of productivity and growth.

Unlike India, the New River Valley region, in my opinion, is not "…united…by a respect for achievement and yearning for a better life, but also by an unprecedented belief that such a life is possible, regardless of one’s social and economic status."

It is must not become, to paraphrase Jacques Chirac, "a place of old people, living in old houses, ruminating about old ideas."

Let us see new ways through a prism of new ideas.


Photo credit:  Southern Hill Myna Bird 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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