India Unbound: Gurcharan Das on the Rise of India

This week on The Learning Curve, Cara and Gerard interview Gurcharan Das, author, public intellectual, and former CEO of Procter & Gamble India. Mr. Das gives a short history of the rise of India since independence in 1947 to become a thriving, incredibly diverse nation of 1.4 billion people—the world’s largest free-market democracy. He explains how the economic reforms of 1991 removed the restraints of a centralized, bureaucratic state, helping drive the economic dynamism of an IT and knowledge economy that has helped 415 million people escape poverty over the last 20 years. India’s remarkable story, Mr. Das notes, is showing the world an alternative to the Chinese model of autocratic, centralized control.

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Cara cited an article in The Guardian, “Quarter of a million children enter secondary school without basic maths and English,” that illustrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to learning losses in the U.K., underscoring the need for parental involvement and an emphasis on proven practices to address learning deficits. Gerard discussed a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruling that money must follow students, not school districts, marking a major victory for school choice advocates.


Gurcharan Das is an author and former CEO of Procter & Gamble India. He authored a much-acclaimed trilogy based on the classical Indian ideal of life’s goals, including India Unbound on artha, material well-being, The Difficulty of Being Good on dharma or moral well-being, and Kama: The Riddle of Desire. Mr. Das writes a regular column for the Times of India and five Indian-language papers, and contributes to the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. He is also the author of a novel, a book of essays, and prize-winning plays. Mr. Das studied philosophy at Harvard University and later attended Harvard Business School. He is presently editing for Penguin The Story of Indian Business in 15 volumes and lives in Delhi with his wife.

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