Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Asians, especially Indians are used to unfavorable words spoken regarding their culture, society, practices, unsafe environment, under developed infrastructure, inefficient bureaucracy, unbridled corruption, low worker productivity etc and when one hears good words once in a while from an unbiased observer, it calls for celebration! Here is an excerpt from such a visitor after traveling through China and India.

That's when you remember India. "Ah!," you say, believing that here is a country that will perpetually disappoint on its infrastructure. Abysmal roads, gridlocked traffic, poor sanitation and those positively lethal curries.Really? As you approach the airport at Mumbai and if you somehow tear your eyes away from the slums that seem to have crept straight onto the runway, the first thing you notice is the mass of flyovers that appear, quite literally, to have cropped out of the blue. Your journey to downtown in an air-conditioned cab takes an hour, not the three hours it used in a rickety old Fiat cab on the last trip. "Surely Mumbai must be the exception," you say. "Other Indian cities will be worse." Well, no luck on that account. Whether it is the national capital Delhi or the southern city of Chennai, the improvements over the past 10 years are significant, and almost to a fault, efficient. Even the famously lackadaisical government appears to be in a tearing hurry. From a target of 4km of new roads every day barely three years ago the target was reset at 20km per day in the middle of last year. According to independent reports, the actual progress is over 30km per day. Okay, it's a big country, but it looks to be getting an awful lot faster to go from one end to another. Sanitation seems like a worry until your roadside food vendor proffers a bottle of mineral water with the just-cooked delicacy. The food waste behind the stall seems to disappear quietly and efficiently into a new drainage system.

Indians seem to be resigned to be called a soft state because of the slow pace of development, inordinate delays in taking timely decisions, never ending developmental projects most of which over shoot their targeted completion by years and non-aggressive foreign policy that fails to respond adequately to hostile designs and actions from some of its neighbors. Probably it requires a "certificate" from a foreigner to realize that India can be a leader in the near future out pacing some of the economic super powers of to day in every field of economic activity.


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