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Seeing Firsthand How Business Can Make a Difference

January 12, 2014, 8:00 AM

I grew up at a time in India in which there was very little confidence about the country becoming a player in the global economy.  Yet it was a time when amazing things were happening in India.  My father was CEO of a large electrical equipment company in India and I had the great fortune of seeing him being in a company that enabled the country in various ways to get electrified. 

I remember going with him to places in the country where nothing existed, where they opened a plant and then sometimes going back 10 years later and seeing where there was nothing, there was not just a plant but a whole city because around that plant suppliers had come, other manufactures had come, schools had been created, hospitals were developed and thriving communities were developed.  

So I got a very visceral sense, first hand, about the extraordinary power that business has in terms of enhancing the prosperity of society.  Having grown up in a country where that engine was being stymied because there were no economic reforms, gave me both a deep sense of what is possible in business, but also how the right conditions have to be created to enable business.  

When I came to America, I saw an example of an economy in which those constraints didn’t exist and therefore there was a remarkable capacity for dynamism that occurred in this economy, which I thought many other places in the world could learn from.  Thankfully, by 1992, with a series of economic reforms in India, you saw those conditions change in India as well.  And I think that many other parts of the world have now learned that one thing that you have to do to create prosperity is to create the conditions that allow business to be unleashed and to be a force for creating prosperity in society.  

The good news now is that for the 20th century, about one billion people in the world enjoyed the benefits that business could deliver.  I think in this century there are four billion people around the world who now have the possibility of enjoying the benefits of business.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock



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