This is a slideshow about Indian car manufacturers & "small" cars...
India used to be thought of as an over-populated backward country but the changes there are amazing. The problems are still there but the economic progress is outstanding.
I pick India, not China, as a model Kenya should emulate (the GOOD not the bad) since Kenya, like India, has a (flawed) democracy. China is a totalitarian state Kenyans will & should not embrace.
Furthermore, India faces many issues/problems that mirror those of African countries including a burgeoning population, poverty, corruption & a monolithic bureaucracy.
So, what can we learn from India (the GOOD not the bad!)?
- Privatisation - India is moving from a socialist mindset to a capitalist mindset. Some may argue that India has alway been a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist nation. Well so was most of pre-colonial Africa. The largest Indian firms are PRIVATE enterprises/groups including Reliance, Tata, Birla, Wipro, etc. Many state owned firms are being privatised as competition sets in. (Kenya is doing well on this aspect esp after Kibaki came to power. I hope the trend continues).
- Technocratic appointments - Manmohan Singh (PM) was a technocrat who was appointed as Finance Minister in the 1980s. And then give them a free hand. The "Dream Team" of the 1990s was a good idea but derailed when they did not kiss moi's ass. (Sigh... Kenya could do much better in this respect. Political appointments rule the day not merit. Then add underworked but overpaid assistant ministers to this mix!).
- De-tribalisation - India has more issues/problems than Kenya regarding "tribes", religions & castes. Nevertheless, there has been a slow but steady growth in those who don't care about these matters. And it starts from the top. Rajiv Gandhi married Sonia (an Italian). Indira Gandhi (a Hindu) married a Feroz (a Parsi). There are many other examples that are not widely known. The CEO of BioCon is Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. Kiran is India's richest woman & married to a Scot. (Kenya is doing poor in this regard especially when the populace is intent on electing their "own" regardless of merit. The good news is that the urban youth are not swayed as much but the rural - ethnic - vote exceeds the urban vote. Raila's son, Castro, is married to a Kikuyu girl! But will this turn into votes for him?)
- Women empowerment - Even though women are often treated as second-class citizens, India's current president is a woman. India's kingmaker is also a woman (Sonia Gandhi). Indira Gandhi was the PM for many years. Many of the states have Chief Ministers who are women. (Kenya has women politicians (karua, ojiambo, ndungu, etc) but except for Wangari Mathaai, I do not see these politicians agitating for the common woman. Campaigning for another 40 "special" seats does not count. What about the 17,000,000 other girls & women? And why do women who constitute 50% of the population need special treatment? If the women ganged up, they could elect a woman president as well as the majority in parliament!)
- Domestic Market - Indian firms export BUT the domestic market is important. Indians support local firms. Even Coke had a tough time when many Indian favoured the local "Thums Up" over "Coca-Cola". (I am embarrassed when I see imported butter & eggs in Kenyan supermarkets!!! Yet we have KCC among other firms exporting dairy products to the Middle East. We import canned "Heinz" beans & "Ceres" juices whereas we have local firms producing the same /similar goods! Kenyans' obsession with imports is pathetic!
- Spread e-government - India has spread government's reach to embrace substantial portions of the population through technology. The kids are becoming the teachers in many villages. The trend is fueled by examples/idols ranging from billionaires like Azim Premji of Wipro among others. India's huge BPO industry is pushing technology into the villages. (Kenya has been talking the talk but not walking the walk regarding technology. We need to employ savvier professionals who can spearhead e-government. Credit to Kimunya among others who are driving the computerisation process. But we need to do more, sooner.)
- India has embarked on connecting the corners of the country with expressways. The idea is to boost trade as well as encourage exports & efficiencies. The rail network has great coverage all over India. (Kenya does not have a decent highway across the country. The Nairobi-Mombasa highway is a veritable mess. Nairobi-Kisumu is even worse. Imagine the possibilities if we had a decent North-South highway from Namanga to Lokichoggio AND a 4-lane decent highway from Mombasa-Kisumu. Our cross-border trade with S. Sudan & Uganda would show strong gains as would Kenyan domestic tourism).