It’s a beautiful morning at the shores of the river Sabarmati. We are at the Sabarmati-Ashram, a place of tremendous historical and spiritual significance, where Mahatma Gandhi lived from 1912-1930 and where his drive and inspiration for Satyagraha was shaped and cemented.

Inspired at the Pratharna Bhoomic (prayer ground), I sat down with a school class of 60 young children from Mumbai. It was amazing how, despite their age, I listened and learned and I became the student and they became the teacher.

These are some of the things they shared with me:

„Charity starts at home“ – Ishmaan 12
„The biggest problem in the world today is our „EGO“ – Daniel 13
“India is doing much better now but we need more diversity and equality for the the whole world.” Aanya 13

More than anything, it was evident to me that the young generation is preoccupied with finding answers to major problems in the world. Their focus is on equality, diversity, and overall values. – “We want to change the world for the better starting in India” Said one young girl. – “India is doing better now but we will work on reducing corruption and terrorism and take care of problems such as alcohol and drugs.” Said another young boy. Their statements were deep and meaningful; overall it was a wonderful experience.

This is what young INDIA really wants

On my occasional visits to the land of Buddha and Gandhi, I have been trying to observe the change that is being led at the top by companies and politicians. I have also tried to see the impact from a ”grassroots level“ especially among the younger generation. Over the last few years, or should I say over the last few months a true awakening has been occurring.

Young India is frustrated and tired of the old world and want to change the world for the better one step at a time. This is significant because the (young) force is extremely powerful with 70% oft he population bellow 35, they will make the change – starting at home – however not choosing frustration but rather inspiration and positivity as their driving forces. The young entrepreneurs of India are passionate and they are not driven by Ferraris and filled up bank accounts. They are more so focused on social sustainable projects whereby they can really make an impact. It is not about the history. It is all about the future and should I say “the now.” The impact for something better, many without even thinking about a business model, just there to do change and create and install sustainable solutions.

Prime-Minister Narendra Modi first inspiring the state of Gujarat leaving his footsteps in the city of Ahmedabad and now driving the nation with holo(-y)graphic visits to rural areas and exposing the rest of the world to the ideas and brands through the campaign “Make In India”.

“Things don`t work, all government authorities takes bribes, no government department is working properly, healthcare is a mess, equality does not exist.” Listening to „nothing will ever change“ – these are the voices of the grown up generation of India – Needless to say, there are many challenges still, but this is not what I see.

At the core of the new changes that are rapidly occurring is “attitude.” There’s a new attitude in India, and I see that changing every day, people do not give up or live with the problems. They really want to make an impact and contribute. And it is not about the history, it is all about the future, or should I say about “the now”. The young generation is in a hurry and the law of accelerating returns applies. So, looking at history makes no sense -They want to make an impact and they will.

What will be great again?

Much of what is taking place in India is relative to what is taking place in America. In both countries it is a time of tremendous change (in which both countries need to look inward). Yet, in America, I am concerned that the emotionalism of the upcoming presidential elections will cause Americans to lose sight of what issues truly are most important to stay focused on.

Donald Trump just paid $100,000 for the rights to his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Come on Donald! Give us a broader message. He argues that we need to make America great again. What does he mean? Look at the quarterly numbers of Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft. Better yet, “How do you measure greatness?” – What do you mean by making USA great again? US, how you measure it, is great –

It is my belief that issues of equality, humanity and non-violence are the core challenges. Without question, non-violence will not come from everyone carrying a gun. We, therefore, need a presidential candidate who understands the true broader issues, and those candidates I believe should be Hillary or Bernie. They are more committed to addressing issues (fixing issues) that impact everyone on a global scale. They understand that we are all connected now. America can no longer isolate itself and choose not to be a team player. This time around policies need to be addressed from a global perspective with the 8, 9 and eventually 10 Billion of us on the planet.

So, while the media is trying to spotlight and make money by promoting the antics, sensationalism and rhetoric of Donald Trump, I would like to challenge us to not be sidetracked and lose sight of the more important issues of the day, globally. A great example this can be found by taking a closer look at what is going on in India, because, while Trump is doing his “off-the-shelf-show” from city to city preaching the (old) American way of wealth (individualism and competition), India is moving from in the other direction. They are moving away from solely being focused on their (old) views and priorities of family, religion and respect for the elders and finding ways to integrate them and tap into the “new world.” India refuses to be left behind economically or politically. They believe in and are adopting a 21st Century mindset/mentality that they can have it all while still keeping their feet on the ground and preserving their values and traditions of the past. They are finding a way to put the Mensch and the Mind in the Middle.

America has a lot to learn from the example being set by India. We can be rich and wealthy and still be “a mensch.” We can find our own ways to define wealth like Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth – which teaches us the view in the HINDI world.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the capitalistic model. It just needs compassion. America (and Europe) can still embrace its history and tradition of competition and individualism; it’s part of the countries journey (our journey). We just need to find a way to connect to all human beings. We need to understand that feelings and empathy are more relevant than ever before. We can’t just talk about greatness and define it as material prosperity. We have to be prepared to change our way of thinking and our approach to the world.

Now all of us are caught in the state of “relationalism” as we slowly connect all human beings to one thing and it is called the Internet. We need to commit ourselves to change (and greater inclusiveness) economically, politically and socially. Then, true change will occur. As well, India is showing us what is possible if we’re open to change.


  1. Love, Behavior, Attitudes and Values

In this new world, young children learn about cleaning up, reducing pollution, and sustainable projects in general. They are positive and believe in change for the better. They speak up and take action wanting to add value to the lives of not just their families and loved one but everyone. More and more their daily lives are driven by honesty and authenticity. A quote from one of the young entrepreneurs I met in India says it best, “I do not have a big car, but I have a big heart.”

  1. Wisdom, Wild Knowledge, Creativity and Playfulness

Education and Communication skills are at the heart of the growth of India. The language “Hindi” is the mother language but “English” is the wife. China and India are moving much faster in using the English language and skills than many European countries. Now, western Investors and local investors are looking more and more within the country because that is where they find the “wild knowledge,” the playfulness, and the disruptive ideas. As always, the old generation underestimates the young generation, and as history has shown us many times, we underestimate the speed of change and the law of accelerating returns. The new force of young people in India is open to ideas, wants to learn, and wants to be part of the connected world.

  1. Taking care of poverty one toilet at a time

The United Nations just announced their goal: To eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere by 2030. With now almost 90% of the children of the world receiving basic vaccinations, we have already come a long way to improving our global living standards. Now, initiatives of micro insurance and social security systems have been set up, and various forms of bringing education to the poorest are going on. According to Gapminder Foundation we have, on a global scale, already moved half of the population out of extreme poverty (living of 1,25USD per Day) over the last 20 years.

The growth in population is stopping and India will most likely land somewhere around 1,8 BN (1.8 billion) people before the birth rates come down to those of Europe. While 595 million people (according to the UN) – almost half of Indias population – are still defecating in open, Prime-Minister Modi is taking up the task through the program of “clean india” to do it one toilet at a time. With this, many of the diseases can be avoided as people slowly improve their way of living. The government is taking care of basic hygiene needs with a target set to build toilets in all the houses by 2019. This is also to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

  1. The so-called ”Digital Transformation“

I have never understood the concept of digital transformation to be quite honest. To me, growing up watching “Transformer: Robots in Disguise” and Clark Kent / Superman, I understand transformation as moving from one fixed state to another thereby changing everything. I personally believe the change now has no start and no end. It is permanent revolution and improvisation. It just goes on, and it keeps speeding up.

In India already more than 200 million people use social media, and there are more cellphones than there are toilets. The Rikscha-Drivers are linked to UBER, and the local competitor in India, OLA, is already doing “UBERs- next big thing” matching passengers who share social groups and common destinations on something of a never-ending ride. The first passenger is matched with a second and perhaps a third, and after one is dropped off the OLA driver can pick-up another without ever ending the trip. The Rikscha`s are doing mobile payments and connected like never before. During my visit, I even experienced a sign-up for social security with just ONE SMS. So, if something is transforming, then it is India. They are skipping all steps required and ongoing in a western world. This will eventually lead to totally new and cheaper business models. So, while everything that can be digitized is getting digitized, India is getting to the fast lane of a permanent revolution.

  1. Impact of Globalization and Urbanization

Globalization is kicking like never before after reaching a tipping-point in 2006 where more than 50% of the world`s population lived in cities. And, according to the UN, it is predicted that by 2050, about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. India, with the smart-cities initiative, will therefore become a benchmark for how cities are structured and run. Soon, politicians from Western Europe will be travelling to India to see how to handle the problems of growing cities and increasing urbanization. From within, local entrepreneurs are coming up with totally new concepts for growing food, handling waste, reducing pollution, and recycling products.

  1. Women

“Women” is the last, but maybe the biggest force of all. Although, according to recent McKinsey studies, Indian women are the most stressed of all, I still think they are the drivers of the change. They are definitely pushing for change, working hard, and moving up the ladder while still taking care of the family. At leading IT-Companies, now more than 50% of the entry-level developers, in some regions, are women. What I observe, and also saw during my trip to Ahmedabad, is a hunger for change, for making an impact, for doing good, for embracing education. All of this while mastering family and business career like the women of Stockholm who have already been doing it for 10 years. However, as in all other cities around the globe, women are the new “upper-class” and they are becoming more socially connected, talking with other human beings instead of just talking to them.

As I write this on my way “back to the western-world” – reflecting on what will be “great again” – I believe we should on a global scale, just like India, try to end the battle between Darwinism and Creationism. Find harmony between our ego and individualism. And understand the interdependence of our society in the world of relationalism. It is not about making something “great again” but rather to take care of our planet and make society great for all of us… and right now India is leading the way.