India's Economic Contrasts

CBS News Chief Foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports on one of the world's youngest and most successful entrepreneurs in part two of a special series India: Land of Contrasts.


It's the kind-of treatment usually reserved for India's Bollywood movie stars, not a 20-year old kid. But when Suhas Gopinath goes back to his old grade school, they let him know he's an inspiration. This local boy has made it big, reports CBS News correspondent Lara Logan.

Gopinath is the boss of a global software company that operates in 11 countries, including the United States. It's a remarkable achievement by any standard — but in India, a developing country saddled with the largest number of the world's poor, it's nothing short of a miracle.

Gopinath's inspiration was none other than Microsoft's Bill Gates.

With little more than big ideas and a home computer, Gopinath founded his IT services company, Globals Inc, when he was just 14 — and became the world's youngest CEO. Six years later, he has even bigger plans.

The new offices for his ever-expanding business in Bangalore are less than a block from the college where he's still studying and the modest house where he still lives with his parents.

Globals employs 600 people — the youngest, a 10-year-old adviser on Web design. Age is no barrier to employment — unless, of course, you're not young enough. The maximum age of his employees is 32.

You wouldn't think that Gopinath's small Indian company could be worth a $100 million to an American firm, but that's exactly how much he says he was offered by a Houston venture capitalist — for just 35 per cent of his business. Gopinath didn't hesitate to turn down the offer.

His story is an astounding example of what's possible in modern-day India's booming economy. However, his story is also the exception. Just 300 miles away, in the slums of India's capital, Delhi, a young man not much older than Gopinath is living a profoundly different existence.

Imagine waking up every morning to comb through mountains of rotting garbage, searching for anything he can sell. It's the only life 24-year-old Bisu Das has ever known.

If he's lucky, he'll make 2,000 rupees a month — that's about $40. Incredibly, that makes him better off than 300 million other Indians — more than the population of the entire United States — who live on less than $1 a day.

No matter what you've heard or read about India's poor, nothing can prepare you for actually seeing it, Logan says. The sight and stench are overwhelming, and there are more flies than you have ever seen in your life. The sheer horror of what poverty really looks like up close is shocking.

Das is one of thousands living in the midst of a massive garbage dump. He told Logan that it's hard not to feel angry. He never thought sifting through garbage would be his life.

So while India rides the economy Gopinath is helping to create, its biggest challenge may be not leaving Das and millions like him behind.
  • Jessica Goldman

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