Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only Entrepreneurs can save Indian Economy

Entrepreneurship is the single most powerful quality that differentiates the US and the Indian economy. The development of the economy, improvement in the quality of lives and innovation into the future will happen only if entrepreneurship is fostered.

Is India low down on the entrepreneurship? After all don’t we see so many entrepreneurs all around us – the chai wallahs and dhabba wallahs to the small time vendor in our locality on a smaller scale; and to the Mittals and Bhartis at the larger end of the scale. At the same time, the world recognizes the enterprising spirit of the Gujaratis and the Punjabis who have penetrated the corners of the world seeing opportunities where none saw.

Despite these evidences of entrepreneurship, my point is that we lack the so called educated or professional entrepreneurs. If I take the batchmates of mine from school, college and post graduation, I find a small percentage – about 5% only having taken the route of entrepreneurship. This is what needs correction. We need more of these educated professionals taking the plunge into starting and running their own enterprises. Given their education background they should, at least theoretically, stand a better chance of making it in comparison to those who have not had opportunity of good education.

But why do these professionals not take up entrepreneurship? The reason is that Indians have traditionally been averse to taking risks. This is particularly true of a large section of the middle class. The other reason is that the we have been conditioned to obey and not to venture out to explore. Right from school days we are told and made to obey. So when we grow up we would be more comfortable to work under the instructions of a Boss rather than be a Boss ourselves. We do not know how to fly. We have not grown our wings.

The other problem is security. The generation before the current one lived in times where they were hardly able to meet their ends. They just about managed to give a comfortable life to themselves and their children. But the fear of not getting a job itself ran high. So the first thing that came to the minds of parents was to ensure that their children somehow got a job. In such situations it was just not possible for the children to think of earning on their own. Only the rebels amongst these youngsters did start something on their own.

But, now, times have changed. Youngsters have a lot more independent thinking these days. They are able to express and experience their potential much better these days. Career choices are much higher than at any time in the past. They are also able to take risks.

But the scale of such movement towards entrepreneurship is not enough to see the kind of development of the economy we would desire. We need a revolution to see a large percentage of professionals take to entrepreneurship. Students at the college levels should be encouraged to look at entrepreneurship as a clear career option. The spirit of adventurism in this age should be guided towards business.

The future of India lies in entrepreneurs and not in “employees”.