Pragati interviews Nandan Nilekani of Infosys

Nandan Nilekani - World Economic Forum Annual ...
Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

Pragati, an online and electronic journal, is by far the most thoughtful collection of analysis on India that I’ve come across in a long time.  Back in graduate school I once had a professor tell me that the best political and economic analysis was done in journals that had distinguished contributions, not distinguished contributors.  While some of the writers for Pragati are the later, the quality of their contributions remains at a high level.  I choose to get Pragati in my email as a PDF (subscribe here), and then make sure I have a copy with me on my iPhone to read when I’m out and about.

Anyway, the latest edition just ‘hit the stands’, and it has an excellent interview with Nandan Nilekani, vice-chairman of Infosys.  The interview is focused around Nilenkani’s new book  Imagining India – Ideas for a new century which is scheduled to ship in the U.S. in March 2009.  Here’s a link to the online edition of the interview:

» Ideas for India’s future | Pragati

Your book is about ideas, and you have quoted a number of people and their ideas. If you were to pick one to focus the governance agenda of the coming central government, what would it be.

The most important idea and the central theme that I start off in my opening chapter is the change in our view of the population. For a long time, in part due to international pressure, we treated our population as a burden and something that needed to be controlled. But today, we’ve finally realised that people are our biggest strength, our assets and not liabilities, that human capital is what makes you tick. The moment you think of our people as human capital then automatically the challenge becomes how do we make sure they are healthy, educated, have roads to go to work and school, have lights to study at night, have jobs and can become entrepreneurs. The fundamental shift in the way we think about population is the central theme of my book and everything I talk about is how do we leverage and exploit that human capital, and what are the obstacles that you see in doing that.

This will be on the top of my book list for 2009…hopefully the publisher gets it issued for the Amazon Kindle.

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