My grandfather heard from relatives in other parts of the world by ‘sea mail’ which took a really long time, or ‘air mail’, which was faster, but still took days. My father had to wait for a telephone connection for years before MTNL kindly consented to grant our household a line. About 15 years ago, I bought my first cellphone, walked out of the service provider’s office in about half an hour.
We live in a time of not just change but change at a dizzying pace.
Even 20 years ago, the fact that you and I could talk to each other from different parts of the world via small handheld wireless devices, may be while both in moving vehicles was, for all practical purposes, science fiction. Chances are you’re not reading this on a printed page of paper, which was the only way my parents and their parents could read anything for most of their lives.
Take disease. Did it seem likely, that polio would join smallpox in the list of diseases we have eradicated? That is very much a possibility now, with cases detected globally being just a few hundred a year, and India seeing none since 2012. Malaria is going that way too, now.
There are many other things, in various parts of our lives, which once seemed laughably idealistic, even unrealistic, but are now looking like we might see them happen in our lifetimes.
For this year-end issue, we decided to look ahead and ask ourselves—and experts we admire—what big changes we might see in the future. Not just next year, but not too far either. We chose the next five or six years. This period includes all of our new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term, which seemed appropriate, considering that his promises of ‘Achche Din’—good days—played a large part in his winning office. Some of the fruits of change that we will see would have also come from seeds planted long years ago, some by his party and some by its current opposition, and quite a few of them have no connection with politics and politicians at all.
We have, in the pages to follow, what we think is a nice view of better times ahead, and what we hope that what you will take away from these stories is optimism for the new year.
As ever, we look to you for feedback. Tell us what you think are the wonders we will see made real in the next few years. Email us, or reach us on social media, and use the tag #AchievableUtopias.
Happier endings: Dealing (better) with mortality and pain
Labour law reforms: Little to do with firing employees
Connecting people: Will internet reach the remotest village by 2020?
Minds that (should) matter
Desi foods that can conquer foreign palates
How to win 20 Olympic medals by 2020
Teach the children well: Achieving excellent education for all
Policy changes and private enterprise to boost greener India with cleaner fuel