Towards dinner time on Friday, 20th of May, social media was abuzz with video clippings of Rahul Gandhi’s now-familiar ramblings. He was repeating these while speaking at an “Ideas for India” conclave in London. At around the same time on Friday, nearly 400 delegates had just finished listening to a few scintillating presentations at the “India Ideas Conclave” in Bengaluru.
The “India Ideas Conclave” did not just stop there. It continued on Saturday 21st of May and Sunday 22nd of May. And after each presentation/discussion/session that was held on a variety of topics, I couldn’t help but continuously think about the stark contrast between the two conclaves – The “India Ideas Conclave” happening in India and the “Ideas for India Conclave” that happened in London.
The theme for the 7th India Ideas Conclave was “India 2.0 – Rebooting to Meta Era”. While Rahul Gandhi was busy plotting against his own nation (or “Union of States”) in London, a serious conclave was going on in Bengaluru on immense potential India has and what we all need to do to tap this and become a much greater nation. The conclave was spread across 3 days, with an illustrious list of speakers sharing their detailed thoughts on a varied set of fields – economy, industry, science, religion, politics, commerce, connectivity, history, spirituality – in which India has to focus to leapfrog into the Meta Era.
We heard India’s Communications minister on a 20-year outlay to make India a preferred destination for semiconductor fabrication; how exactly we are invested in building full end to end stacks for 4G and 5G solutions; and to be on the forefront to create Ips for 6G! While on the topic of connectivity, India’s Civil Aviation minister, in another session, explained in great detail the pace with which airports are being enabled in our country. Another Cabinet minister, Hardeep Singh Puri spoke about how India is working very fast on energy efficiency towards achieving many of its goals (and in some cases, even beating the goals!).
If you are thinking that this session was all about ministers and bureaucrats outlining government programs, then you are heavily mistaken. Some of the best discussions and presentations were in sessions such as Technology 2.0; Commerce and Industry 2.0; and Economics 2.0. Leaders from various leading companies in the countries such as TCS, Infosys, Facebook, BioCON, General Atomic Global etc gave us fascinating presentations laced with data on how they are all working towards leapfrogging India into the Meta Era. In fact, the company Meta (earlier called Facebook) literally demonstrated to the audience the “Meta” experience taking the audience by surprise! One of the keys to achieving everything that the leaders of the industry were outlining is to capacity building of our population. We heard from Hemang Jani, who is the secretary of the Capacity Building Commission, outline many great specifics on how we are building this capacity (with a focus on training, potential, teaching and the challenges associated with them).
Climate Change is very intrinsic to the growth of our economy, and it was fascinating how these two topics were linked and explained to the audience. We heard from Jayant Sinha, first on the challenges of climate change and the great rapid strides India is making in enabling climate change. We had the commerce secretary also explain to us how aspects of climate change are the biggest challenge for us to leap into the 2.0 era.
If you are now thinking that the conclave was all about Economy and Industry, you are again mistaken! I thought the “Politics 2.0” discussion will be about Modi, Rahul etc. However, I was pleasantly surprised when most of the panellists were delving into details on how the next era of politics should evolve into effectively using technology better and being more connected to people. The session on “Media 2.0” was not a ranting session on how biased today’s media is but was totally focused on how various social media platforms can be used for better education; meaningful discussions; encouraging different narratives and so on. The session on “The future of social activism” was not a ranting session on how screwed up we are but focused on what we can do to further the cause of various social issues.
There was a poignant session by Vijay Kumar of the India Pride Project. His presentation showed us how our gods end up being smuggled and sold, and the relentless efforts they have done to bring back these back home. And when he showed to us pictures of how villages welcomed back their idols, the room simply erupted with Joy.
I am sure I missed talking about many more speakers and topics that they spoke about. I am sure I missed mentioning the achievers in the audience themselves. Each of these sessions deserves a separate article – Not a single presentation was based on rhetoric or bordered on the peripheral. Experts gave detailed presentations on what is being planned; how it is being implemented; and how we can overcome challenges to achieve greater heights for the nation.
Rahul Gandhi’s repeated assertions that India is not a nation but a “negotiated peace of Union of States”; that India is just a spark away from blowing up (from the kerosene he is trying to pour!); that it is concerning for him that Indian officers are representing the Indian voice instead of foreigners voice (He got schooled by Dr. Jai Shankar and how!) ; that India is just doomed for the times to come – are all simply ramblings of a mind that is totally out of tune with an aspiring and a young nation. That he was accompanied by luminaries like Sitaram Yechury who represent the most outdated philosophy (the Communist philosophy!) in the world only reflects the paucity of ideas and friends he has.
While the “Ideas for India Conclave” gave a platform to known doomsayers from India to spew their venom on foreign land, the “India Ideas Conclave” gave a platform for 100s of minds from across the country to ideate; implement and inspire.
The India Ideas Conclave heavily focused on the challenges, solutions and outcomes for an aspiring and a young India. The Ideas for India Conclave refused to even accept that a young India has aspirations in the first place! During the same weekend, it was therefore no surprise that we had to wonder about the stark contrast between the futuristic India Ideas Conclave and the ramblings at the Ideas for India conclave.