India Speaks: Zerodha’s Nitin Kamath to OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal, industry captains on challenges ahead

What kind of future do you see for yourself, and for India as a country that has been a free nation for 75 years? Young Indians share their views with Vaishali Dar & Reya Mehrotra

India Speaks: Zerodha’s Nitin Kamath to OYO’s Ritesh Agarwal, industry captains on challenges ahead
While on one hand, this is a big strength as a nation due to our substantial and stable population of working-age adults, on the other, this also poses a challenge because a majority of them are short on the skills required to thrive in the future.

Nithin Kamath, 42
Founder & CEO, Zerodha

India holds the advantage of having the youngest population among developing countries. While on one hand, this is a big strength as a nation due to our substantial and stable population of working-age adults, on the other, this also poses a challenge because a majority of them are short on the skills required to thrive in the future. The unemployment data statistics reflect this stark reality. India holds promise and stands as one of the very few shining lights in an otherwise dismal global economy. It is important for us to invest in our youth and skill them with the right knowledge. If, as an economy, we want to truly realise our economic potential, we need to do whatever it takes to up-skill our youth to make them ready for this challenge. The future of work looks uncertain and it’s important for everyone to keep reinventing themselves to prepare for the ever-changing world. Another aspect where we need to draw our attention is to do whatever it takes to stop the brain drain and ensure start-ups register at home and contribute to our tax base. We also must not forget that growth has to be equitable, while taking great care to ensure that we consider the environmental and ecological costs of growth.

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Dia Mirza, 40
Actor, producer

Before we think of the future, let us remind ourselves of the past. Seventy-five years ago, India won its independence as a united collective of citizens who shared a common dream to be free. We could not have achieved this had we not thought and acted as one. There is a lesson in there somewhere and so I believe our future will be defined by how we act today. I do not see myself in isolation from the other citizens of India. Across social and economic divides, we all want the same things. A life of dignity and peace. Opportunities to grow. A good education for our children. Clean air and water. A healthy environment that our children can inherit.

Praggnanandhaa Ramesh Babu, 16
Chess grandmaster

We are already moving from a ‘third world, undeveloped nation’ to being the ‘Vishwa Guru’. We are a nation with a young population, and we should capitalise on this by providing them ample opportunities to bring out their inherent skills. We should develop our nation across areas like sports, economy, art, culture and infrastructure, and ensure speedy justice to the common man and better law enforcement.

Ritesh Agarwal, 28
Founder & group CEO, OYO

A New India is arising. We are living through the golden decade of India’s growth, when we are encouraged to take risks and build in India for the world. India is a nation of small businesses and a wave of digitalisation across the country has created big opportunities in the small town. This has in turn created a unique symbiosis between new-age tech start-ups and small businesses.

Ananya Birla, 28
Businessperson, artiste

I am excited for a new India. With the rapid advent and access of digital India, the younger generations are more empowered to develop their own opinions. I think the magic of new India lies in the amalgamation of their open-mindedness, with traditions and values instilled by the older generations. Home is a feeling and India will always be home. There is a sense of belonging here that no other place can replicate.

Licypriya Kangujam, 10
Climate activist and environmentalist

I have a dream where there are more bicycles on the road instead of more vehicles. I have a dream where there are no coal and thermal power plants and replace them with renewable and solar energy. I have a dream where all the children living in India and the world have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and a clean planet to live in. India is responsible for just 7.4% of global carbon emission but we are the victims of climate crisis. However, India is leading the fight against climate change. But rich nations have to do more. They have to invest more in developing and underdeveloped countries if they really want to solve the global climate crisis. Just see how millions of children are dying due to high air pollution levels and how millions of people are suffering due to extreme heat waves in India and the world. Sacrificing the lives of millions of children due to failures of our leaders is unacceptable at any cost. Each and every child living in this world is already the victim of climate change.

Raghav Verma, 35
Co-founder, Chaayos

My idea for the future of India is one of inclusiveness, pride and self-sufficiency—a country that sets an example of democracy for the world. India’s growth story should capitalise on the diversity and freedom of the country, rather than limiting it. India’s citizens today are young, dynamic and have more pride in themselves than ever—I see a future of true success for everyone in the country, and genuine happiness for India’s citizens. I see India showing the world how to balance the best of history and culture, and cutting-edge technology and youth. India’s technology and innovation today have taken it far ahead of more ‘developed countries’. The idea of India is one of a country whose time has arrived. India is the epitome of tolerance and diversity and it’s time to unleash the potential that this has to offer.

Ghazal Alagh, 33
Co-founder & chief innovation officer, Mamaearth

Celebrating the 75th year of independence of the world’s largest democracy is an extremely proud moment for every Indian. India is being recognised by the world as a strong nation to look at from an economic investment and growth standpoint. The way our country has grown and progressed over the years makes me happy and excited. The current situation in India is a land of opportunities, especially with the indigenous brands, technological advancements and increasing propensity to consume. I am excited about the times to come and confident that we will move from strength to strength.

Akriti Kakkar, 35

I would like India to be more liberal and accepting as a country when it comes to different cultures and religions. I have friends who are Sikh, Muslim or Catholic and from different parts of the country and who speak different languages. I love them equally and they give me the same love and respect. It’s purely based on the kind of people we are and not based on where we belong to and what language we speak or what religion we follow or what place of worship we go to. So, in the larger scheme of things, it’s been 75 years already and we are getting there but we need to make this message even stronger—we are one and we should not be divided on the basis of caste, religion or region. I am so fortunate to be a musician as there is no language of music, which is universal. I hope it becomes our personal approach, too, as people.

Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha, 28 and Niyati Mavinkurve, 31
Digital content creator duo

We’re optimists, because to be honest, from our experience, being pessimistic about our country doesn’t really help in progress. That being said, we don’t believe India is free from problems, not at all. There are far too many problems in the country and we should have solved many of them by now. However, the onus to learn from history and to not repeat mistakes is on us. I see a future where the population works to solve the problems around them rather than cribbing. I see a future where India steps up to be an equitable partner to other less developed countries, while improving our country. I see a future where India builds climate-friendly cities which preserve our unique history. I see a future where we can be more productive and contribute more to the world. I believe our skilled youth, our farmers, our culture— everything can step up to generate an immense soft global power. There is no reason to believe otherwise.

Thomas Zacharias, 36

As a chef currently working on building a movement of empowering people and organisations to do good through food via The Locavore, I see us bringing value back to those who produce our food, celebrating our roots and heritage while embracing the present. The diverse cultures and communities that coexist in India is a powerful example for the world in the 21st century, one that is increasingly divided. Somehow, we, the citizens of India, seem to be losing sight of this as well, and yet it is something we still see so easily embraced in large parts of the country. If anything, I’d love for India to stand for the richness of what we represent as a nation of a thousand cultures.

Dr Aakanksha Chawla Jain, 35
critical care consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi

An exciting future is what I see. As an Indian the opportunities that are present today and will be in the future on the global stage have tremendous potential. Indians are placed in a conducive environment to achieve excellence in self-growth and contributions to global solutions, not just in the field of medicine but also in the domain of vedic sciences, among others. Seventy-five years of independence have garnered the ability to respond to crises and challenges, and this capability of rapid response will take us into the future and beyond. India and Indians have been the source of wisdom, education, learning and innovation in several verticals. The space that we all occupy should be that of a global centre for self-excellence—be it in medicine or any other field. The citizens of my country are truly resilient and will surely play a pivotal role in bringing in the next golden age. Wishing for everyone true independence, independence from limited thoughts, independence from bias and independence from half-truths.

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