Navigating growth: Lessons from India’s economic, space triumphs for Africa’s ascent

In 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, affectionately known as Pandit Nehru in India, sagely remarked “Life is like a game of cards; the hand that is dealt you is determinism, the way you play it is free will.”

Over seven decades, his words resonate profoundly with India’s ability to overcome development obstacles. Embarking on a celestial journey that captured the world’s imagination, India’s lunar module Chandrayaan 3, made history by softly landing on the moon on August 23rd 2023.

This remarkable feat wasn’t just a victory for India; it marked a significant leap forward for all of humanity in our shared pursuit of cosmic exploration. We extend heartfelt felicitations to the Indian populace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for accomplishing what no other country had managed before touching down on the moon’s South Pole. Previously, this eminent realm of high-tech lunar explorers was the exclusive purview of Russia, China, and the United States.

In the wake of this monumental achievement, India now basks in a distinctive honour on the global stage. Their triumphant descent and landing on the moon’s southern expanse and becoming the second nation to operate an active lunar rover, after the China, has truly solidified India’s global image and status.  However, the journey wasn’t devoid of skepticism. When Chandrayaan 3 set off in July 14th 2023, few took it seriously.

Yet, when the momentous landing occurred, a staggering 8 million people from all corners of the globe tuned in to witness the event live on India’s space Agency, the ISRO’s official YouTube channel, marking the highest viewership ever recorded. This unprecedented display of global engagement exemplifies the power of collective achievement and shared aspirations.

As we reflect on this achievement, Africa stands to glean invaluable insights. In the intricate tapestry of global progress, the threads of attitude, sound policies, and unwavering determination weave the fabric of development. India’s evolution from a struggling third-world nation to a spacefaring powerhouse stands as a testament to human resilience and innovation.

The path to self-determined success is a demanding one. It requires persistent effort and dedication. To thrive in the era of globalisation and competition, two pivotal factors emerge. First is to nurture a well-educated and healthy workforce and strategically embracing the global economy. As Africa envisions its independent future, the story of India’s transformation offers a trove of wisdom.

At its core, the lesson of tenacity and attitude resonates deeply. India’s remarkable journey has been propelled by a culture that uplifts its own through community-driven initiatives, fostering local businesses and nurturing talents. Their ascent from the depths of poverty to international respect underscores the significance of internal cohesion and cultivating a diligent work ethic. This journey is further enriched by their adeptness at assimilating the best of other cultures and infusing them into their own.

A steadfast commitment to education remains pivotal. India’s investment in its people’s skills, exemplified by partnerships with renowned institutions abroad, has yielded fruits. Notably in the realm of Information Technology IT, and digital technology. This speaks to a universal truth where, both proper and right education plus innovative skills transcend barriers of nationality and skin colour, opening doors to global opportunities.

India’s success in this endeavour, though not devoid of imperfections, underscores the power of investing in human capital. Moreover, India’s geopolitical strategy has been astute. Diplomatically balancing roles as both a US ally and a crucial member of the BRICS alliance. This duality has fostered robust trade relations with major powers; further enhancing India’s global standing.

Recently, in the realm of US politics, as the 2024 election looms, an emerging figure, Vivek Ramaswamy, an American of Indian heritage, mirrors past leaders who were initially dismissed as rookies but eventually left an indelible mark, akin to Dukasis and the likes of John F. Kennedy and Barak Obama. This underscores the potency of education and meritocracy in heterogeneous societies like the USA.

India’s accomplishments weave a narrative from which Africa can glean immense inspiration. The moon landing and other global milestones serve as beacons of possibility, reinforcing the idea that science and innovation not only drive technological growth but also elevate global standing. Upholding values that cultivate strong character becomes paramount, as robust character molds a righteous society with proper social construction, in which strong leadership shall emerge. No matter how much Africa gathers best practice examples from around the world including India, they can only work if within us, in Africa the majority, wholeheartedly, embrace right attitude and strong values, including prudence, accountability, and transparency.

We should send our young people overseas in the best high-tech Industries and Institutions. While foreign based high-tech Universities and leadership schools are expensive, our countries have no credible recourse. After all, in the pursuit of progress, the words of Derek Bok ring resoundingly true and distinctively; ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.’ Derek’s wisdom encapsulates a universal truth, that investment in proper education yields immeasurable returns. India’s historic achievement with the lunar module Chandrayaan 3 echoed this sentiment, serving as a testament to the power of knowledge, determination and global collaboration.

Just as Indians harnessed their collective strength to uplift their nation, Africa must recognise the undeniable value of nurturing its own talent. The success stories of Indian nationals like Sundar Pichai at Google, Satya Nadella at Microsoft, and Arvind Krishna at IBM serve as beacons! It proves that proper education transcends boundaries and opens doors to leadership on a global stage.

India’s transformation is not limited to technology giants in the United States alone. Crossing continents, Indian prowess extends to Britain. Where individuals like Rishi Sunak, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, now guides a powerful economy as the British Prime Minister. These leaders epitomise the shift from traditional narratives to a world where education, skill and character are the currency of success.

Africa’s journey forward demands a resolute commitment to eradicate systemic corruption and foster a can-do attitude and culture. A pivotal step is redefining education, with a focus on nurturing skills, particularly in science and technology. India’s transformation from a nation grappling with challenges like dengue fever to a digital and IT innovation powerhouse is an exemplary achievement.

In America, as Vivek Ramaswamy continues to surge as a rising star in American politics, it exemplifies the transformative power of education in shaping destinies. We youths of Africa have much to learn, while simultaneously striving to build sturdy leadership within the continent. Should the mantle of our nations’ futures rest on our shoulders, we must embark on education reform, character, attitude and global strategies reform. We can internalise the lessons etched in India’s narrative.

In China, Sanjay Kumar was appointed as CEO of Tencent Holdings. In Japan Nikesh Arora once led Soft Bank Group, while in Germany, Anshu Jain served as Co-CEO of Deustche Bank, while Rajeev Suri, served as the CEO of Inmarsat a British satellite telecommunications company based in the UAE which reflects the global reach of Indian talent across industries and nations. These individuals and their roles collectively underscore the far-reaching influence of Indian professional proficiency and talent on the global scale. There are remarkable strides by our Kenyan, Rwandese and Ethiopian brethren across the globe but collectively we Africans need to embrace our diversity and invest in the right education with all our abilities. Nothing comes easy.

In our modern times and development it is paramount recalibrating education systems to emphasise science and technology. It’s time to dismantle stereotypes and debunk the persistent fallacy that Africans are inconsequential in the global developmental landscape and advanced industries. The truth is exemplary character and high skills and proper education can take us anywhere and propel Africa to unforeseen heights. The famous adage what man had done, man can do!” means if Indians made it, Africans can also make it so can everybody else.

India’s growth has been one of unwavering belief, enduring tenacity and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Their story resonates across borders and cultures. Beckoning us to embrace the boundless possibilities that await when human potential is harnessed with determination and a shared vision. Should we Africans commit ourselves resolutely, particularly we the young generation, to borrow the words of former U.S President Barak Obama, “Yes, We Can!” Echoing the vision of her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan, “resilience and reform”, national transformation is indeed attainable.

The writer is an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania novartigosha@gmail.com +255747130688.

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