Tuesday, 5 April 2005

Heart Matters


Abhay K. *

“My heart is like a singing bird”.
-Christina Rossetti

A good heart is the key to a healthy body and so is a good HEART for a developed country. India today can truly aspire to be an Asian leader and eventually a global leader in offering HEART services which stands for Health, Education, Agricultural produce, Research-Development & Technological innovation and Tourism. HEART symbolizes the five core areas that can put India on the path of prosperity and can truly make it a global hub for services. Services already account for the largest share in India’s GDP. Focusing on HEART will add up to this momentum and help India become a Global Service Hub (GSH).

India today gets patients for sophisticated heart surgery not only from all over South Asia but also from Central, West and South East Asia as well as Africa. In India advanced and quality health care is available at very affordable prices. Indian cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai have emerged as the health havens. There are opportunities galore in old-age health care. India can offer health services to the senior citizens of the whole world by virtue of its expertise in the health services combined with the low-cost, high quality lifestyle India is able to offer to the senior citizens of the world. Today India is experiencing health tourism. People travel to India to see a dentist along with having a good time traveling around the country. India has taken to training nurses seriously. During my visit to Kakinada, a lesser-known coastal town of Andhra Pradesh I found a number of nursing schools. Girls of age between 16-20 from all over the country including the Northeast and Andaman & Nicobar Islands take nursing courses in these schools. They are in demand in many countries of Europe and Americas and get a placement around the globe as soon as they pass out. India has a number of alternative systems of medicines to offer. Kerala specializes in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of preventing and curing diseases. Tourists all over the world travel to Kerala to enjoy its pristine blue beaches as well as get a taste of Ayurevedic treatment of their ailments. There are many more examples. India should invest in health sector much more than it does today. India should take global health care a tad seriously and leave an Indian imprint on it.

Education is vital for any economy. India has been the source of the trained manpower as scientists, scholars, engineers, doctors, professors etc. solely because of its strong and qualitative education system. Time has come to take it a step further and make it truly global. Today Indian university education does not cater to the global needs and demands. There is a need of standardization. India can begin with 5 universities, a sort of India’s own Ivy League, catering to the needs of global students. Indian School of Business located at Hyderabad is an attempt in that direction. The Government-Private partnership is the key. Indian universities today offer the original degrees after 2-3 years of actually giving the results. This is a major problem for international students because they cannot get an admission or a job outside India until they have the originals. This makes the Indian education unattractive to an average international student. Sometimes they have to face teaching in Hindi-medium that is a torture for the students who do not understand the language. International students also face Visa problems. Renewal of visa is a painful exercise and on many occasions these students have to face a lot of trouble at Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). India can truly cater to the needs of the African & Asian students where there is a lot of respect for the Indian education. Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management are global brands in their own right and there is a need today to make Indian education a global brand.

India is a very proud country to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. It’s a great achievement indeed. Now time has come when India should aim at producing that amount and variety of food that makes the whole world sufficient in food or in other words India should become the global food basket. It’s a country where majority of the people are dependent on agriculture. A developed and prosperous India cannot be realized without the rainbow revolution. In agriculture India must aspire for producing much more than it does today, at the same time keeping in mind the sustainability of resources. This is possible only if we aim higher and refocus at the core sector of Indian Economy, agriculture. Biotechnology is doing wonders and using the new know-how and techniques India can make the difference that is needed to be a global food basket. The key is to aim higher, work harder and achieve greater.

When we think of progress and development today ‘Technology’ comes to the forefront. Technology is what makes all the difference between a primitive society and an advanced society. India today has made tremendous progress in nuclear technology (NT) space technology (ST), information technology (IT) & biotechnology (BT). IT has put India on the global map and once a country known for snake charmers is known as a country of software engineers. “Die Inder” is the German phrase for “are you Indian”. Indians are a well-respected people in demand around the globe for their skills and hard work. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched satellites for Germany, South Korea and other countries thus truly beginning a new phase in catering to space services. The global giants like Microsoft, General Electrical (GE), and Bells Lab have located their R&D facilities in India. Indian research is considered to have qualitative edge over others and is very economical. Nano- technology is the emerging area in which India is taking the lead. Some of the most exciting research on ‘String theory’ that seeks to explain the nature of the Universe and the matter is happening in India. These are signs. India must act without losing time by investing more in R&D and technological innovation.

Tourism is what brings people face to face with another place, culture and civilization. India offers so much. Mountains, lakes, lagoons, beaches, forests, huge variety of wild life, flora and fauna, palaces, spiritual havens, islands, cuisine and what not. Still India attracts fewer tourists than Thailand or Hong Kong. This is a reflection of our state of infrastructure and how seriously we take the saying “atithi devo bhava”. Its high time India focuses to be the number one tourist destination of the world. After all aiming high, demanding more from us, are the only ways out.

To realize the vision of our President APJ Abdul Kalam of a Developed India by 2020 we must put HEART at the heart of the things. To achieve even small things in life one needs a lot of discipline and focus. Our national energy and intellect must combine and streamlined. Let’s remember that Arjuna could hit the arrow in the eye of the bird because he could focus without distractions while other Pandavas could not. Until we focus clearly and firmly I fear we would fritter away our limited energy and resources and the vision of a Developed and Prosperous India would remain a dream.


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