Emerging economies like India and South Africa are at a crossroads. In the past, the West has defined the dominant narratives of these places. To many people, India has always been associated with poverty, and Africa with animals – exotic, alien and somehow different. But the image has been changing in recent years, as the world understands that stereotypes do not define the essence of these countries.
Part of INK’s mission is to make the world aware of new thought leaders from places like India and South Africa. The story of India is more than popular sports or stars. At INK we work hard to break that stereotype. One thing we do which I find inspiring is our Fellows program, where we bring young innovators from India and emerging economies around the world to the INK Conference, and invite them to give a talk on their ideas to our community. The INK Fellows are the type of people I believe should be the role models for our youth.
That’s why it was so encouraging to meet with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and his team of leaders from Brand South Africa on Tuesday. The people at Brand South Africa are trying to redefine South Africa to the rest of the world, just as INK is working to offer the world new perspectives on India. While speaking with them I realized they are just as enthusiastic as we are about breaking stereotypes about places, and getting the thought leaders and youth from emerging economies to meet and collaborate with one another.
We’re looking forward to working with President Zuma and his team to partner with South Africa and bring more South African thinkers to INK. As INK grows, these types of collaborations are an exciting part of our future.
By Lakshmi Pratury, INK Host and Curator
February 1, 2012