While every book is prone to being judged by its cover, Sramana Mitra’s Vision India 2020 is not your average “India Shining” coffee table read. Neither does it make empty assertions of “India Rising” with false reassurances of global supremacy. It is, in fact, exactly what it claims to be: a Vision, backed with intricate research, deep insights and realizable roadmaps, all set in an imagined, yet realistic future.
A celebrated Silicon Valley strategy consultant, entrepreneur and business author, Sramana has not only penned down a complete view of the future that every Indian dreams of but cannot fully comprehend, she also bears a torch illustrating the very real paths of getting there. And when I say complete, I mean complete.
The book provides insights to 45 unique business opportunities in India. Every thinkable and unthinkable sector, field, service or product has been covered, each presenting a case for a scalable and realizable entrepreneurial endeavor, while simultaneously releasing immense untapped economic value for the nation. From shopping to shipping, engineering to equity, horticulture to furniture, candles to carbon, convergence chips to gourmet cheese, rural development to real estate development, Water Desalination to Water Diplomacy, Solar Energy to Software, Schools for slums to rural cinemas, films to pharmaceuticals… the offerings are overwhelming, but presented in a very organised fashion, so as not to confuse the reader. Significance is given to essentials such as healthcare, education, infrastructure and rural development, with multiple ideas discussed, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, thus aiming universal access. The theme of doing well by doing good, and the idea of doing business at the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid, is touched upon at many points.
The forty five complete case studies are not just about innovative ideas, but about how the innovation can be brought to the market. Insights to crack seemingly ‘done’ industries as well as exploring uncharted waters have been provided, and even VC-unfriendly sectors such as education have been tackled. Every narrative has been written in a post-facto fashion, analyzing the success story of the discussed model from a future perspective. Sramana’s expertise on entrepreneurial planning and strategy is clearly visible in the extremely detailed models, unraveled with not only economic but social, environmental and diplomatic factors in mind as well, while keeping pace with the timeline and the corresponding changing scenarios. Financial engineering has been incorporated wherever needed. At some points the book does take a very Utopian turn, neglecting many bureaucratic and political hurdles. However, while described as a work of business fiction, many of the futuristic models and idea bombs are discussed as scaled, extrapolated and rectified versions of already conceived success stories. Vision India 2020 remains an immaculately written exciting and inspiring read.
For budding entrepreneurs, a reading of the book should be an engaging and inspirational journey, starting off with Sramana’s own saga about chasing her dreams, instructing the reader to “take with you, the boldness, as you read…” It also serves as a reminder of the responsibility that every entrepreneur must embrace, of generating a social impact on the community, nation and world. While the book shall gain interest amongst policymakers and investors, it’s message is central to the youth of India – “Close your eyes, exist in this future – be each entrepreneur.”
And how far is that future?
Ten years, at most.