Farm to Frontier – India’s Path to Success

Contributed By: Karthick Selvan

The students of IIMB were honoured to host MoS Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha at their facility. Mr Sinha, a former consultant, a Harvard university student and a pupil of Micheal Porter raised the expectation level of the aspiring MBA graduates gathered in the auditorium.

Mr Sinha’s talk was about his idea of a unique development model for India. He compared the economic growth of India with that of US and China for the next 20 years, assuming India is growing at 7% per annum. The graphs showed that India would only reach the current GDP level of China, while the other two countries still growing at a lesser pace would be 5 to 10 times bigger. His model provided a leapfrog approach to rapidly increase the GDP by giving work and rising economic activity in the country.

“Farm to Frontier” was about enabling the people working in farms to move to the frontier. Productivity was the central theme for the first half of the presentation. India is a country with 17% of the world’s population on 2.4% of the world’s land mass and 4% of the total fresh water. He established the lack of resources and high demand for them as almost about 60% of India’s population is engaged in agriculture. He showed that the output per person in agriculture is the lowest across all sectors. The contribution of agriculture towards the GDP growth is also decidedly less compared to the output and productivity in the service sectors like private banks. To improve productivity, he proposed to train the people in different services and enable them to earn more. He gave the example of ride-sharing platforms like Uber, where the skill of driving provided a higher income and allowed to move several people from the farms into the cities functioning as a part of the service industry.

Mr Sinha also talked about changing the mindset of the people. He iterated that everyone wants a stable job with a fixed income. He quoted “The ideal dream of an average North Indian is to get a government job, and that of a South Indian is to work in an IT firm in a city like Bangalore”. While the government and IT service firms can only open a limited number of jobs every year, the demand keeps increasing with more and more people aspiring for the same. He urged the budding MBA graduates in the hall to help bring a change in this attitude.

He emphasised the need for service-based start-ups. He showed that for every direct employee working in a service industry, three people were given work indirectly. Companies like Milk Mantra in Agri-services, Limeroad, Flipkart and Urbanclap in e-commerce, Vistara and Spicejet in aviation, Ather in automobiles and several others like Paytm, Renew, Zomato are continuously working on innovation thereby increasing their scale and the number of jobs created directly and indirectly.

He also explained the steps taken by the government towards realising this dream. The Udan scheme, where airports are being built to connect tier 2 cities to metropolitans enable quick access of people and resources across the country. Training people in service-related jobs like nursing schools, promoting technology-based Agribusinesses, subsidising textile services for small societies are some of the initiatives undertaken.

“Farm to Frontier” did provide a different way to think about the development path for a country as diverse as ours. Overcoming the barriers of a fixed mindset and changing the attitude towards taking risks are the primary challenges today. We believe that with time, training and management, India could tap into its vast resource pool and become a global superpower in a shorter time.

Karthick Selvan is a PGP 2018-2020 student of IIM Bangalore.

Media Cell IIMB is the student run outreach and communication committee of IIM Bangalore dedicated to form the bridge within the student community and the outside world.

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