Home » R Madhavan’s Speech on India in 2030 at Harvard University (Full Transcript)

R Madhavan’s Speech on India in 2030 at Harvard University (Full Transcript)

So I decided just to work on the parts that is seen outside my clothes. So I was just working out of my biceps and my triceps and my shoulders but you know what I suddenly realized, the strengths that I had in my arms and biceps was not actually enough for me to look even fit because it is disproportionate growth.

It is the kind of growth that will not make you fit or strong but actually make you look inadequate. And that is what is happening to India today.

Everybody says we are the largest economy — we’re going to be the most populated country in the years to come and you know with economic superpower and supremacy in rocket and space technology which I am privy to and then the IT giants and smarter cities.

But ladies and gentlemen, I really believe that more than smarter cities we require smart villages. And this is going to be primarily what I talk about today.

You know, a nation is only as strong as its weakest link and rural India is our weakest link. See, it’s important that growth and progress goes hand-in-hand with villages also getting onto the same train towards economic freedom, super-powerdom, all terms that has been coined for a successful country but that is not happening, the reason being we’re beginning to ignore them, we’re beginning to actually believe that —

This is a very interesting line that I have found, where they say that everybody believes that they know what is required for getting the underprivileged and the poor up to speed with the rest of the country. OK, and we always start assuming that this is what they want; this is how we can help the poor and the villages and this is what they need.

And we can’t be more wrong, because when you assume, and as the spelling goes you make an ass of you and me, let me tell you how that happened to a friend of mine.

His name was — he’s a very profound doctor, a gastroenterologist, and he got a call from his patient Mr. Abdul, who said, “Doctor Saab, my wife is really really ill and she’s got a big stomach ache and she can’t sit and she can’t sleep and she’s in big pain, can I come and visit you?”

And he said, ‘Yes, by all means’.

And like all patients today he’s done his research, he’s gone into the internet and he said, “usko yeh ho sakta hain, wo sakta hain, and the doctor said, ‘Don’t worry let me handle it’. And he checked her out and he said “She has an infected appendix, so I have to do a surgery and she’ll be fine.”

The surgery was done, she was fine and Abdul was a happy man.

One year later, he calls back to doctor and says, “Sir, my wife has got a stomach ache, please do the appendix operation, she’ll be fine.”

And so doctor said — the doctor Manu said, “Listen, I am the doctor, let me diagnose, Abdul, please bring her to the clinic and we’ll fix it up.”

But he said, ‘No, no, sir fix up that operation date, we’ll do it in half an hour and we’ll be back — just she needs that appendix removed’.

So now he’s losing his patience, he says “Let me do the diagnosis, Abdul, bring her to the clinic.” And he’s still insisting and finally the doctor lost it, and he said, “Listen, I am the doctor and let me tell you that every human being has only one appendix, and I have already taken out the appendix. So please don’t tell me how to do my job.”

Abdul waited very patiently for the doctor to finish with his assumptions and then he shot back very meekly, he says, “Sir, I agree with you, every human being can have one appendix but a man can have two wives, right?”

So when we start assuming what the rural India needs, we do what I think is most dangerous. In my vast experiences of shooting in really rural India’s, and villages and small [cook-gramins] like they call it in Tamil, really small places, I realized shockingly that the biggest financial burden for a person of this particular village, would you all be able to guess what his biggest financial burden is — five minutes! Hey so I’m going to speak for 20 today, I am going to reduce the number of questions, I’m prepared, is that OK?

OK, so can you all tell me, anybody, quick answers — anybody know which is the biggest financial burden for a man in one of these small villages? Sorry, tap, health, OK. Not health, not the marriage of a daughter, not education, not – liquor, thank you for reminding me, no. Say it again, dowry, no, no, no, no.

Let me put you out of your misery. I’m saying why does he need financial assistance for — the answer is the untimely death of one relative of a senior in their family, that is the one occasion he can’t prepare for, that is one occasion where the ceremony demands that he spend a certain amount of money, feed a certain amount of people, use the funeral expenditures and that’s where he takes the loan and that’s where he gets indebted and that’s where, to escape that particular embarrassment and humility of not having the ability to perform the function every year as a specter of the Indian tradition that he decides to leave the village, because he’s made to feel inadequate.

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