Rachel Simon | The Philanthropy Workshop | 30 January 2017
On January 10, 2017, The Philanthropy Workshop hosted a webinar previewing the upcoming Global Journey to Mumbai and Udaipur, Rajasthan. Nachiket Mor, India Country Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, provided an insightful overview of India's current economic, political, and social conditions.
In preparation for TPW members traveling to India in February 2017, Nachiket said, "It can be a daunting experience to come to a county this large...I've lived here all my life and I cannot say I understand it."
Formed by hundreds of independent countries, unified only recently into India the country, it is what Nachiket called an accidental nation. "[It] started to become settled something like 70,000 years ago [and] you will see the evidence, literally on a daily basis, of that entire 70,000 years right in front of you."
Nachiket introduced webinar attendees to the "good news, bad news" realities of modern India. While hosting the third largest and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India's economic success has served as a catalyst for its extreme inequality. The recent economic growth has not translated into public services for the vast majority of Indians living in poverty.
Nachiket noted, "You would find it hard to argue that we are a country without resources...[we have] intellectual resources, financial resources, medical resources" and yet levels of poverty, inequality, and gender discrimination are "deeply troubling."
Nachiket's India is a country with a "dual picture." It is the first country to mandate corporate social responsibility, one of only a few countries that have a right to information act which is successfully combating corruption in public life, and is a leader in medical advancements such as electronic access to a network of biometric records for over a billion people.
"It would be hard for you to convince yourself that this is an economy that doesn't know how to get things done," says Nachiket. And yet, visitors will encounter its seemingly "intractable" social challenges through some of the worst examples of poverty and inequality seen anywhere in the world.
Nachiket encouraged TPW members to come to India with an open mind. "The reality is we don't really know the answers and I would want [visitors] to continue to question and rely on their own best judgment. Because where that next idea [or] initiative will come from is not clear to me. And we certainly don't have the answers. No question is a naive question."