India is coming alive and flourishing economically. In fact, Citigroup estimates that by 2050, it will have the world’s largest economy, larger than China and the United States. For many centuries, only the politically connected and elite prospered in India, while the rest of the population lived in poverty. However, since 1991, 250 million people have been lifted out of poverty and are finding new ways to flex their personal and economic power.
In “India Awakes” noted Swedish author, commentator, and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explores an inherited British bureaucracy which created layers of rules and regulations. However, globalization and economic liberalization have created fluidity between classes – and greater ambition. Norberg follows three individuals who are working to improve their lives, and in doing so, are breaking down the centuries old caste system.
- Banwari Lal Sharma, the president of a new street vendors association, is helping vendors in his area feel more empowered and able to stand up for their legal rights, after years of having to pay bribes to corrupt local officials.
- Rama Bhai, a Sagai village leader and farmer, comes from a group called the ‘forest people,’ who were once viewed as trespassers on the land where they have lived for generations. Through an unusual use of GPS systems and Google Earth they have now obtained deeds to their land.
- And Mannem Madhusudana Rao, who was born to one of the lowest rungs of India’s caste system, the “dalit,” was able to break free from the chains that have bound his societal position to a life of poverty. Through hard work and perseverance, Rao formed a major construction firm and has a much higher quality of life for himself and his extended family, along with a new status of “millionaire.”
“India Awakes” reveals the enormous power of unlocking human potential and ambition, and how doing so could establish this country as a preeminent world leader.