IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN INDIAN?
In 2014, when Bhairavi Jani got into a car with three friends and drove 18,181 km across India,
from the remote districts of Nagaland to the villages of Rann of Kutch and from the Kashmir
Valley to the interiors of India's Deccan she was searching for the threads that weave the people
of the world's largest democracy together. What she discovered from the many highways she took to swades form the beating heart of this book.
Highway to Swades is a quest to explore and rediscover the inherent civilizational powers
shared by all Indians. Jani identifies twelve such superpowers and maps out how these can be
called to action for the future of the republic and its citizens. In 'Power of Enterprise', for instance, she explores the values that connect India's street vendors and tech entrepreneurs of Bengaluru. In 'Power of Nature', she shares the unlikely bonds that bind the Changpa people of the cold desert wildlife sanctuary in Ladakh, the Khasis of Meghalaya and an Oxford-returned young woman in Kumaon. And, in 'Power of Creativity' she throws light on how our inherent superpower of creativity can help us build a thriving creative economy using new-age tech and AI.
Through an amalgamation of data, travel anecdotes and stories of people from different corners of India, Jani intertwines the country's past, present and future seamlessly.
'Entrepreneurship is a very critical element of democracy and inclusive development. By being able to exercise their economic choices, entrepreneurs reinforce political and personal freedoms and are an important force in establishing and maintaining an open democracy. From our very first interaction when I was the planning secretary for the Government of Meghalaya, I noticed that Bhairavi managed to grasp the idea of using entrepreneurship as a tool for socio-economic transformation. Later, as the development commissioner in the ministry of MSME, Government of India, I again observed her unwavering commitment to unleashing of India's power of enterprise. And when I was serving as the secretary for the ministry of women and child development, Government of India, I saw her bring data and ingenuity to the issues of gender equality and development in the country. For over an entire decade I have witnessed Bhairavi and her work. She always gave her time, knowledge and energy pro-bono for the nation. This, I know, came from the deep passion and care she has in her heart for Indians from every walk of life and from every corner of the country. This book is a love letter because it emanates from the love and reverence Bhairavi has for India and Indians. A must-read for anyone having interest in India and her people.'
-Ram Mohan Mishra, executive chairman, State Investment Promotion Board, Government of Meghalaya
'When I was growing up, I would hear many Indians complain about everything in India and blame others without taking any responsibility. I felt young Indians were different and they need to think about how they can give back to their country and take on the responsibility of creating an India of their dreams. This thought led to the birth of Young Indians (Yi). Over the past twenty years Yi has become a national organization with a presence across India and while a lot has been done, it is just at the cusp of an incredible journey into the future. Bhairavi was the youngest member of the Yi founding team and I can't think of a better person who truly reflects the ideals of what Yi stands for. This book is a great way for young Indians to know our India more intimately and be inspired to engage in nation-building.'
-G.V. Sanjay Reddy, founding chairman, CII's Young Indians, and vice chairman, GVK
'Bhairavi writes like the Ganga-powerful, forceful, sparkling and engaging. Back in 2014, Bhairavi sent me such a write-up on the possible vision of India that inspired both of us to explore its realization in our own ways; I started from the outside by examining the math to get there and Bhairavi from the inside by going on a road trip around the nation to speak to the people on the ground. Seven years later those insights crystallized into this book with a conclusion that both of us furiously agreed on-India needs to shake off its colonial mindset of control-conformance and instead enable its core superpowers. Read this book to understand India's roadmap to unlock its latent greatness.'
-Gitanjali M. Swamy, senior legislative and policy advisor, Massachusetts State Senate, USA
'I have known Bhairavi Jani for close to two decades. Our association began when we started the Young Indians initiative together back in the early 2000s. And over the years she has grown to be one of my good friends and a confidant. A fourth-generation entrepreneur, Bhairavi Jani's passion for sustainable livelihoods is reflected in her projects and this book is an extension of that. Aptly titled Highway to Swades: Rediscovering India's Superpowers, this book provides a fresh perspective on how our great nation has managed to maintain a close bond between past and future, as she has experienced it during her travels spanning across two decades.'
-Jayadev Galla, member of Parliament, Lok Sabha, and chairman, Amara Raja Group
'Bhairavi Jani is an adopted honorary Naga and a sister to so many of us here in Nagaland. Honest and true, Jani has many friends across all sections of society here in Nagaland. This is testimony to her long-standing work for the development of our people that stems from deep concern for our people. Quietly, she has undertaken several initiatives that have positively impacted our society. She is a mentor to young entrepreneurs, a resource person for the government's various youth-oriented programmes and a constant support for Nagaland. Over the years she has connected us with captains of industry, intellectuals, scholars and world-renowned leaders. Her association with this part of the country is not just with Nagaland but with the entire northeastern region. She has been a supporter and partner of the North East Leaders Connect (erstwhile Young Leaders Connect) which is a fellowship and a think-tank of leaders belonging to different arenas from all the northeastern states. Her inputs and advice have always been priceless and highly meaningful. Bhairavi Jani is a true nation builder-with heart and soul. This book captures so many stories of people and places from the north-east of the country and gives our people a rightful place in the narrative of India's growth story. A must-read.'
-Abu Metha, adviser to the chief minister, Government of Nagaland
'To call Bhairavi Jani just a "Supply Chain Maven" is definitely an understatement-she is much more than that. A multifaceted entrepreneur with a deep empathy for national and global youth issues and unwaveringly committed to the well-being of our planet, she is one of those personalities with a rare talent of coming up with innovative solutions to global problems, probably stemming from her many years of working and interacting with both the corporate and government sector. This book captures her many learnings over a period of almost two decades engaging in nation-building with an enterprising spirit. A definitive read for anyone who cares for India's future.'
-Baphin Kerlang Sohliya, executive adviser, Meghalaya Farmers' (Empowerment) Commission
'I have for years experienced first-hand Bhairavi's commitment to nature and her intelligence to see beyond and analyse what opportunities we have for our today and tomorrow. The outcome is this insightful book. It succinctly shines the light on realistic and effective ways for Indians to solve the many issues we face: including climate change. The book is an important read for one and all.'
-Karuna Singh, regional director, Asia, Earth Day Network
'Many years ago, I entered the principal's office at our school-Delhi Public School Srinagar-and found a young lady sitting there. She introduced herself as Bhairavi. She was discussing how to introduce our children to music. She helped us bring two faculty members, musicians themselves and graduates of the K.M. Conservatory founded by musician A.R. Rahman, to Kashmir for several weeks to teach music to our students. This eventually led to a rekindled interest for music in the youth of the Valley and we did a music competition (SHIRIN) where 186 schools participated and the finale was attended by 9,000 people. Bhairavi also brought to the school experts on career counselling. Those interactions changed the mindset of the youth. They had not thought of anything beyond becoming a doctor, lawyer or government servant. After these interactions, children suddenly jumped into other professions related to information technology, artificial intelligence, art, music, journalism, tourism, entrepreneurship and innovations. It is a delight to see how some of the students supported by Bhairavi have spread out all over the world and are doing well in different spheres. Bhairavi brought her logistics knowledge to use for the flood relief work in Kashmir in 2014. She brought her expertise and voluntarily helped the state get back on its feet and get over the deluge. Bhairavi is an exemplary human being and with the help of her better half Alok, she has a Kashmiri heart of gold. Over the years, through her selfless and tireless efforts, Bhairavi has woven herself into the story of Kashmir and thus into our hearts and our families. This book has wonderful examples of our Kashmiri youth striving despite our difficult conditions and they come from Bhairavi's deep bonds with our land and people. A must-read.'
-Vijay Kumar Dhar, educationalist and founder, Delhi Public School, Srinagar
'Bhairavi's book is based on her years of travel within and outside India and her deep observational skills combined with a solution-driven mindset. Her deep compassion is a legacy from her maternal family of medical doctors and her pragmatic solution-driven mindset is a gift from her paternal lineage of entrepreneurs. This book is bound to affect you with its narrative which has an honest and emotional appeal coupled with meticulous journalling of facts and data.'
-Shikha Nehru Sharma, founder, One Health
'Bhairavi and I have been privileged to be associated with LEAP along with other committed individuals who share the importance of Srinivasan's work in building a future generation of culturally committed citizens. LEAP is an extraordinary NGO which works to foster a love of music through singing in children of all talents. In the chapter "Power of Heritage", the descriptions of each area are a plea to the citizens of India to understand the power of the individual and communities in the preservation of our heritage. As the chapter shows, only the involvement of citizens can protect this wonderful heritage of ours. The chapter is well worth reading and reflecting on.'
-Deborah Thiagarajan, founder and director, Dakshin Chitra Museum
'It's undoubtedly a moment of great joy and privilege for me to write few words for the author of this thought-stimulating and research-oriented book. Bhairavi, over last so many years, has travelled to every nook and corner of the Kashmir Valley and has interacted with countless people. Her helping hand, international exposure, passionate and enthusiastic interest for youth development in the valley is greatly appreciated. It makes this masterpiece authored by her an exceptional read.'
-Waseem Trumboo, director, Trumboo Industries, and former chairman, CII J&K State Council
'In Highway to Swades, Bhairavi Jani has truly spoken from her heart. I have known Bhairavi and her husband, Alok, for a few years now and have first-hand witnessed their commitment for our country's farmers. Bhairavi inspired me and others in our industry to explore affordable and environmentally sustainable options for establishing a cold-chain network for millions of Indian farmers. She reminded us that all of us who are educated and are privileged in life have the opportunity to help and connect India's small farmers to markets across the world with our prowess in engineering and technology. This book is inspiring at many levels and Bhairavi's passion for our country shines through it. Read it to learn how you can help India unleash its superpowers.'
-Pankaj Dharkar, presidential member, Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers, and founder, Pankaj Dharkar and Associates
'Highway to Swades is many things: a road trip, a discovery and a coming-of-age story. In a day and age when returning to our roots is a journey we don't have a map for, Bhairavi Jani has shown us a way home. At its heart, Highway to Swades is a narrative of hope: of finding answers to questions we didn't know how to ask and of retelling the story of India and her people. Jani's writing is at once personal and provocative, pushing the reader to think of new ways to see India as it used to be, and swades as it could be. Written with simplicity and charm, Highway to Swades is a vital conversation-starter, giving every Indian the chance to participate in constructing the present from the building blocks of the past.'
-Narayani Basu, author of V.P Menon: The Unsung Architect of Modern India
'I am and have always been a huge fan of Bhairavi Jani. Her energy and outlook towards life has always been inspirational! Bhairavi Jani was instrumental in introducing me to the music maestro A.R. Rahman and sowed the seed for the Sunshine Orchestra, Nagaland Chapter, which is under the A.R. Rahman Foundation and has around twenty children from the Kohima Destitute and Orphanage Home learning the violin, and I am always grateful to her for this kindness. Creativity in any field is divinely inspired. In some way, creative people are an extension of divinity's continued engagements with humanity. Creative ideas and actions have the power to influence and impact society. In my youth, I saw music and the arts as a positive and ameliorative way for my generation to navigate the many traumas faced by the people of Nagaland and the North-east at large. As a pioneering musician, songwriter and performer among my people, I saw first-hand that creativity enabled cooperation, understanding through cultural exchange, healing and ultimately, peace and love. Cliched as it sounds, I understood that to create, one must hope, one must dream. After over three decades of building a creative culture, my naive faith in the power of creativity has proved itself over and over again. By cultivating creativity, we have been able to reach out to our fellow Indians and people from around the world and foster a sense of oneness and belonging. Such is the power of creativity. I was thrilled to read how India can unleash its power of creativity in this book, something I suggest every parent reads so that they can nurture the creator in their child.'
-Theja Meru, adviser, Task Force for Music and Arts, Government of Nagaland
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