‘Has anybody heard the young?’

Why is it that for 20 years we have always heard about the violence, but no one says the best bank in the country is in Kashmir?

June 25, 2015 04:49 pm | Updated 04:49 pm IST - HYDERABAD:

Writer Hindol Sengupta

Writer Hindol Sengupta

It was an exhilarating session of hope, positivity and entrepreneurship at CMC Limited when writer Hindol Sengupta cast a spell with his talk on his latest book Recasting India: How Entrepreneurship is Revolutionizing the World’s Largest Democracy . At this Young Indians Session of CII, Hindol addressed senior management executives, business heads and entrepreneurs.

As he talks about his book, how entrepreneurship among ordinary people has been slowly and steadily changing the face of India and why we always talk of the problems but not of the interesting, creative and positive things happening in India, Hindol reveals that

Recasting India is a detailed account of the rise of the local entrepreneurship in India, complete with case studies.

He begins by asking us what is the first thing which comes to mind when we think of Kashmir? ‘Violence and militancy’ is the instant reply. “Do you know that one of the best run and profitable banks in the country is the Jammu and Kashmir Bank? It is an entirely Kashmir-based bank, run by Kashmiris. Most of it customers are Kashmiris and the people delivering services are Kashmiris. Why is it that for 20 years we have always heard about the violence but no one says the best bank in the country is in Kashmir? Why this narrative is purposely falsified?” he asks.

Recasting India was born out of anger when Hindol visited Kashmir and ‘felt disgusted and irritated at the discourse happening in India.’ “I wanted to bring in fresh thinking and argue that we have got trapped in just one way of looking at India,” he points out and adds, “The last time all the pundits in our country moved out of their arm chairs was probably 30 years ago. The stories that they are telling us are what they saw 30 years ago. India has moved on but the punditry hasn’t. We are talking about the same old nonsense whereas the country around us is dramatically changing. I am not saying don’t talk about the violence. There is more than just the violence.”

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Entrepreneurial history He argues that we have forgotten the entrepreneurial history of India. “We are talking about Make in India today, but even several thousands of years ago, it was ‘make in India’,” he states. Talking about the need to celebrate entrepreneurship in our day-to-day lives, he observes, “This start-up culture that we talk about today, where has it come from? Did Silicon Valley come and give an injection in the arm and suddenly we have startups? We have always had startups. Look at the Marwadis, they went from their own place in Marwad in Rajasthan across the country but no one called them startups. There are numerous examples but we have been told fraudulently that business somehow is anti-ethical and antithetical to the idea of social good.”

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Economics is one of the biggest solutions to caste problems, believes Hindol. He cites a case study from the book, of a quiet revolution brought by group of college students from Shri Ram College of Commerce.

“This group went to Nekpur and took 20 scavenger women out of manual scavenging work and taught them how to make detergent. They created a brand called ‘Neki’ and with every passing year, it is being widely distributed. These women have never gone back to manual scavenging. If this is not change, then what is? When I went there and spoke to these women, it gave me goose bumps. The women could not remember in their entire history of generations, who have never done manual scavenging. The state alone will not be able to remove manual scavenging. It has to be a combination of community and entrepreneurship put together,” he explains.

His next book Being Hindu reflects on what it means for a young, modern, plural, secular Hindu in the 21st century. “I am exploring those facets of my identity. Recasting India was my economic identity. Being Hindu will be my spiritual identity,” he says.

As a parting shot, Hindol says young people want to succeed. “All the politics is boring; We are a young country. After 67 years of Independence, who cares who is of which religion? We want to build a modern country where people want jobs, a good life, rescue the environment and build roads. We are constantly told that what great young country we are. If we are a young country, has anybody heard the young? We have always been told that there is an American dream. My argument is that there is an quintessential Indian dream, and I am trying to explore what that Indian dream is.”

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