Actor / Writer / Producer R. Madhavan memorable Speech In Harvard Business School – India In 2030
The actor addresses the 14th edition of the Indian Conference by Harvard Business School, which is one of the largest student-run conferences with a focus on India in the US. R. Madhavan spoke on the conference’s theme – India in 2030. He is an Indian award actor, writer, and film producer who has worked predominantly in Hindi and Tamil-language films.” In this Speech, he also quotes: “Let’s look at India as a country, what a unique nation! Seriously. Thousands of years old of culture and tradition, many invasions, being ruled for many years and we still somehow managed to maintain our identity.”
first of all, thank you very much for having me here at the Inspire series, it’s worked dramatically, I’m already inspired to be addressing this really August intellectual gathering of people from Harvard new place that my mother thought I will never reach.
But you know what a lot of people have spoken before me and eloquently and describe their dreams for India. And given figures and facts that either are skeptical and like Mr. Robot says, aspirational, but I’m just an actor. And I’m going to just give you my dream shamelessly, because that’s the thing that I can do best. And by that, I mean, when we talk of dreams, we have one of our greatest scientists and philanthropist, Dr. Abdul Kalam. And he said something which is very interesting, he said, dreams are not what you have when you sleep. The true dreams are the ones that don’t let you sleep.
He said that when you have that dream, once it’s a dream, and you have it twice, it becomes a desire. And when you see it for the third time, consequently, it becomes a passion, an aim and a goal. And that is the passion with which I want to see this fantasy that I have for India 2030. And Abraham Lincoln also was a dream. And you know, but he said, one thing that makes most sense, in trying to achieve this goal that I have dreamt for my nation, he said, If I have six hours to cut down a tree, then I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe is a great philosophy.
And then in this era of instant gratification, we just keep thinking we can achieve all these goals by just tweaking this reading that it’s not true. I really believe that that missionary zeal is required to make that quantum change that can make 2030 the what I’m dreaming about right now and just let’s look at India as a country with a unique, unique nation seriously.
1000s of years old of culture and tradition, many, many invasions being ruled for many years, and we still somehow managed to maintain our identity, we still have somehow have managed to maintain our indigenous, our beliefs, our faith and you know, yeah, there has been, we have our drawbacks. This, you know, there is corruption, there is violence, there is differences between the different religions and sects, and castes and everything, but I can’t help but think, looking at India at the geography, that we’re not doing really that bad. Look at all the other nations around the world.
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Look at our neighbors compared to that there is somebody in India who’s doing something right for us to be called a growing economy and being projected as the third largest economy in 2026, and the most educated and young nation in the world, and it’s still functional democracy. So let’s first accept the fact that there is somebody, some people in India with the right ideas and the ability to lead the nation to where we are today.
under that assumption, we are also very capable of finding very unique solutions to the problems that generally the world faces. And you know, and one of them, of course, is the fact that we found freedom through non violence and non cooperation Who would have thought that was possible. We have some other grip. No, seriously, I mean, it was as radical of thought then as it is today. And one man in a loincloth with belief in faith and, and complete conviction was able to do that for us, you know, Mahatma Gandhi, and it’s an amazing country of people like Mojave, Gautam Buddha, and, and mathema Gandhi and then Bhagat Singh, who also had a dream.
He dreamt then 85 years ago, that I dream of an India where no infant cries for the wanton milk. No youngster is deprived of relevant education. And no youth goes door to door finding a job. Sadly, it’s still a dream today. And I dream of a 2030 when this dream becomes irrelevant. I dream of a 2030 when everybody’s so equally satisfied with what they’re doing that they’re able to actually devote devote more time back to art and culture, which is another great important aspect of our country.
Now, we need to be for that to happen. We need to be a healthy nation. And when I say healthy, I remember preparing for a film of mine, which I released recently where I had to look like a boxer. And I had this you know, biceps and triceps that had to be there. So I decided just to work on the parts that is seen outside my clothes. So just working on them. my biceps and my triceps and my shoulders. But you know what I suddenly realized the strength that I had in my arms and biceps was not actually enough to, for me to look even fit because it is disproportionate growth. It is the kind of growth that will not make you fit or strong, but actually make you look inadequate. And that is what is happening to India today.
Everybody says we are the largest economy the properly we’re going to be the most populated country in the years to come. And, you know, with with economic superpower and supremacy in rocket and space technology, which I’m privy to, and then the it giants and smarter cities. But Ladies and gentlemen, I really believe
that more than smarter cities will require smart villages.
And this is going to be primarily what I talked about today. You know, a nation is only as strong as its weakest link, and rural India is our weakest link. It’s important that the growth and progress goes hand in hand, with villagers also getting onto the same train towards economic freedom superpower them all the technical terms that have been coined for a successful country. But that is not happening. The reason being, we were beginning to ignore them, we’re beginning to actually believe that this is a very interesting line that I’ve, you know, found where they say that everybody believes that they know what is required for forgetting the underprivileged and the poor, up to speed with the rest of the country, okay.
And we always start assuming that this is what they want. This is how we can help the poor and the villages, and this is what they need. And we can’t be more wrong. Because when you assume that assume, and as the spelling goes, you make an ass of you and me. I’m gonna tell you how that happened to a friend of mine.
His name was he’s a very profound doctor, a gastroenterologist and he got a call from his patient, Mr. Abdul who said, The doctor said, my wife is really, really ill and she’s got a big stomach ache and she can’t sit and she can’t sleep and she’s in big pain, Can Can I come and visit you? And he said, Yeah, by all means, and like all patients today, he’s done.
His research has gone into the internet. And he said, usco, use turbos are banned. The doctors said, Don’t worry, let me handle it. And he checked it out. And he said, she has an infected appendix. So I have to do a surgery and she’ll be fine. The surgery was done. He was fine. And Dr. Abdullah was a happy man.
One year later, he calls back the doctor and says, so my wife has got a stomach ache, please do the appendix operation should be fine.
So doctor said, Dr. Manasa. Listen, that, you know, I’m the doctor, let me diagnose what have to please bring it to the to the clinic, and we’ll fix it. This isn’t any fix, fix up the operation date. We’ll do it in half an hour, and we’ll be back. She needs her appendix removed. So now he’s losing his patience. He says let me do the diagnosis or absorbed bring her to the clinic. And he’s still insisting and finally the Doctor losted. And he said, Listen, I’m the doctor. And let me tell you, that every human being has only one appendix.
And I’ve already taken out the appendix. So please don’t tell me how to do my job. Abdullah waited very patiently for the doctor to finish with his assumptions. And then he shot back very meekly. He said I agree with you. Every human being can have one appendix. But a man can have two wives, right.
So when we start assuming what the what the rural India needs, we do what I think is most dangerous in my vast experiences of shooting in really rural India’s, you know, and villages and small programs like they call it in Tamil really small places. I realized, shockingly, the biggest financial burden for a person of this particular village, would y’all be able to guess what his biggest financial burden is? Five minutes? Hey, so I’m going to speak for 20 Today, I’m going to reduce the number of questions.
I’m prepared. Is that okay? Okay, so, Can y’all Tell me anybody? quick answers anybody know, which is the biggest financial burden for a man in one of these small villages? Sorry. theft. Health. Okay. No, not health. Not the marriage of a daughter. Not education. Not sorry. liquor. Thank you for reminding me of No.
Say that again. dowdy. No, no, no, no, oh, let me let me let me put you out of your misery.
No, for the time saying what is the need financial assistance for?
The answer is the untimely death of and a relative of a senior in their family. That is the one occasion he can’t prepare for. That is one occasion where
The ceremony demands that he spent a certain amount of money feed a certain amount of people, you know, use the funeral expenditures, and that’s where he takes the loan. And that’s where he gets indebted. And that’s where to escape that particular embarrassment and humility of not having the ability to perform the function every year as expected or the or the Indian tradition, that he decides to leave the village because he’s made to feel inadequate.
Lord Mikkel hadn’t in 1735, had spoken in the British Parliament and said, The, the only way to rule India is to make the men there feel inadequate, he said, And truly, so that unless he feels that what he has, is less than what others have, you will not be able to rule him and within a very short period, they prove themselves, right.
The rural India today is feeling inadequate. They’re feeling like they’re not even part of our country. And what happens with that is, they start then, looking at opportunities in villages and saying better education, better health, better lifestyle, and no humility for not having performed the funeral properly. They decide to give up who they are and move to the cities and who they are, is what is more important for us to understand who they are actually the timekeepers and the bookkeepers have deep rooted traditional culture and stories. You know, the, you should see how tradition and culture flourishes in a happy village in India.
We don’t have psychometrist as a big fashion thing in Indian, they still manage to maintain a great level of sanity.
You know, there’s a great there’s a great phrase and from the poem, if by Rudyard Kipling where it says, dream, but not make dreams your master think but not make thoughts are aim. Meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same? It’s very easy to say and but how do you treat those two impostors just the same? The answer lies in the tradition and the culture, and the books and the epics that are so prominent and predominant in our country.
The Bhagavad Gita, the grand interpretation of that in the subcontinent, the Bible, the guru grants are the granny stories. And you know how to handle the diversities and the setbacks, and you’re able to sit back, reassemble, reassemble yourself, come back and fight with the same glory again.
And we don’t give them when you don’t give a villager that you’re depriving him, we’re depriving ourselves of what I think is one of the most important survival tool in today’s world, which is the culture and tradition. So, I dream of a 2030 where rural India is as developed as the rest of the world was as aspirational as the rest of India, where where the villager is provided with the same opportunities as it is available in the cities and after a hard day’s work, a villager is actually able to come back, sit down, have a drink, put his feet up and start thinking about art and culture and poetry. That would be a dream that I have for 2030 a practical dream that I have for 2030.
And the dreams that your parents and my parents had when we were in college, urban middle class, where everything revolved around the boy studying hard getting into a Technical College of repute, and then getting into reputed management’s college and finally, the green card.
And if it was the girl, then it was a spouse with a green card or dream of a 2030 white students the world over will dream of a blue card will dream of having once actually come come to India and study and imbibe the knowledge that we have. As a nation, it used to be true. We were the first university in the world. nalanda was university where people came in from far and wide.
So it’s not a it’s not a pipe dream. It is it’s a practical dream that I have. And I think that’s easily, easily attainable. And finally, before I wind up, I think our dream of 2030 where we have a meritocratic electoral base, which selects its leaders, and whose leaders believe that it is more important to serve the missionary zeal to serve the nation rather than drool it.
You know, there is another stanza from the same point which says that if they have the ability to talk to the crowds yet keep your virtue walk with kings not lose the common touch, if neither good friends nor foes can hurt you, yet all men count with you. But not too much. If only the politicians understood the gist of that line, we would have a progressive country by 2030, where we will all be proud of not just the way the country is running, but also about proud about our politicians. And finally, you know, I’m an actor.
And the dream that I have for myself is that in 2030, I’m as relevant and as handsome hopefully, but if age was to catch up, then they probably would
I’ve mapped my face by then and use technology to make me look as young or old, as a role desired me to look and I’m still able to romance the pretty young things that will be part of the industry in 2013.
I see many guys going ham. And finally, as an actor, I’m used and prone to two dialogues, I love to speak dialogues. And I’ve I suddenly and recently found a line that blew me apart and I thought was a phenomenal, indifferent dialogue, where this great gentleman has said, that whatever I am today, and all the achievements that have been, that has been possible by me and what will eventually also be possible by me in the near future, all because of my angel mother.
You know, who said that? Who said that? shockingly, Abraham Lincoln.
So I dream of a 2030 where every Indian says the exact same thing about his mother, and not just about his mother, but also about his motherland.
And also for the sake of posterity, but his mother in law but he needs in general, what do I know I am an actor.