There is always a point in a country when things come together, a new vision is drafted, and it takes off on a totally new path, or a point when opportunities are missed – and misguided by those with ulterior motives. It feels like India is on one such cross-road right now.
It has been 70 years since we gained independence as a nation. We were on a very steep growth path for the first 20 years, then the emergency measures were declared – a lot of trust that this country and the Constitution was underpinned on, was eroded. And the work done in those 28 years was lost.
We might be coming to a period, when perhaps for the first time since then, the youth and the energy they bring, the perspective for a new world and the means to collaborate on a large scale without the government being able to thwart it, are all in place.
I am writing this post, as a resident in the city of Chennai. I work with startups, and I quite enjoy working with entrepreneurs passionate about changing the status quo.
In our world, when we are building large, scalable systems of change, it is always important to notice when the levers shift. Because as my mentor once told me quite eloquently, “Even the most inefficient of systems, in motion, are in equilibrium,” and the biggest lethargy is related to breaking that equilibrium.
Revolutions have always broken out the back of a shift in equilibrium, when the levers shift, and there is a pause – most folks don’t even notice it, but that pause gives way to thought, thought gives way to discussion and debate and a new idea is born. And ideas almost always end up, sooner or later, showing up somewhere.
Tamil Nadu, a largely peaceful state, the second largest contributor to the Indian GDP, has been by and large been in equilibrium. What we currently see – those of us who are keenly listening to the squeaks – is that the machine stopped for a while and changed pace.
Things changed with a series of things that have happened in the state since last year, with the Chennai Floods (when the state failed, and people power rose), when the Chief Minister after being hospitalised passed away, when demonetisation shook the fundamental core of society as we knew it, and when the cyclone did a quick swirl through the city.
It is almost as if, whoever guides the hand of fate, wanted to make sure nobody missed the shifting of the gears. Just in case, we missed it, thousands gathered together at the Marina to protest. While the cause and the means towards it have lots of debates, what it has done is that it has moved an idea into action and an even stronger sentiment, that we, the people, can change things.
Now the question that is on everyone’s mind is, “What else can ‘we’ change?”
Perhaps based on responses to this simple draft, I’ll write more about some of the conversations that I overhear and participate in – more than anything, to enlighten the youth across India, on what is brewing in Tamil Nadu – and it is more than amazing filter coffee this time.