On Thursday June 21st the writer and journalist Sir Mark Tully made a special appearance at Leicester’s Central Library as part of the Meet the Author series of events. A renowned commentator and expert on Indian affairs Sir Mark was the Bureau Chief of BBC, New Delhi for 22 years. He is currently the presenter of The BBC Radio 4 programme Something Understood which addresses the subject of religion and spirituality.
During his hour long lecture Sir Mark spoke about his latest book India – The Road Ahead. The book focuses on the growth of the Indian economy, the issues surrounding the sustainability of this rapid expansion and its effect on the stability of the country. Although many commentators have predicted that the Indian economy may well be the world’s largest by 2050 Sir Mark pointed out that it is dangerous to assume that the country will achieve this due to the number of problems that may hinder further development.
In Sir Mark’s opinion the Indian system of government is outmoded and unsuitable for the modern era as it is primarily concerned with maintaining law and order rather than development. Its cumbersome and bureaucratic nature has also resulted in widespread corruption and bribery. Whilst India’s vast population, (which is largely made up of younger people,) is often seen as a positive step in increasing economic growth Sir Mark believes that without the correct policies this “Demographic dividend could be a demographic disaster”. He believes that the government must improve the standard of education to avoid widespread unemployment. Likewise the healthcare system needs to be overhauled so that people are physically fit to work.
For the second part of his lecture Sir Mark turned his attention to the progress that India has made since independence and the country’s many achievements such as the millions of people that have been taken out of poverty and made literate, the country’s courageous pursuit of democracy and the independent press that has begun to expose the problem of corruption.
In summing up Sir Mark said:
“Despite the problems that I have outlined India has enormous potential. The country has a great tradition of being at one with nature. We need to learn that lesson and respect the earth in order to build a better future. However, if India becomes like the West, a consumerist, high energy society, then there will be huge problems for us all in terms of pollution and the depletion of natural resources”.
Book Doctor for Leicester Libraries Alison Dunne said:
“It was great that Sir Mark Tully came to speak to our library users. The large number of people that turned out today really engaged with Sir Mark’s presentation and asked a number of interesting questions”.
Sir Mark Tully’s latest book India – The Road Ahead is published by Rider.