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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

India Shining ?

Its common knowledge now that the greatest critics of India are Indians themselves and leading the pack are the NRIs who have safely made their exit out of India and found the greener pastures overseas. But is all their criticism really accurate and also is it really worth it ? - time and again, I have always felt that these criticisms are just a way for these 'elite' group of people to vent out their frustration against India and the 'take-it-easy' Indian attitude.

However, in recent months, there has been a notable shift in the overall Indian attitude - although the 'India Shining' motto did no good to the BJP campaign, it has definitely brought about a sea-change in the people's outlook towards life. This realization struck me real hard during my recent trip to India. For one, people definitely seem to be wealthier than ever before - thats really a good sign : it indicates that the economy is doing good. For example, everyone, from the vegetable dweller to the CEO of a corporation, seems to be having a mobile-phone. This was unthinkable just a few years ago. People are more aware of the global market (rise of the BPO market) and people are more open to western influences. Hence, even in a decently conservative place such as Kolkata, you can now see an onslaught of discotheques, bars, late-night restaurants and multi-plex theaters. In other words, Indians today are enjoying the highest level of economic prosperity than ever.

In spite of this, problems still remain. A vast majority of people still remain below the poverty level, illiteracy still remains a cause of concern among large sections of the people, basic infrastructure, such as road system, electricity etc are still far from being perfect. These infrastructure problems hit you more when you have just come back after a visit to India. During my stay there, I always felt that something should be done to improve the condition of th e roads - pot-holes, broken roads, open gutters etc are just common sight. Today, when I was driving to work, I noticed something quite interesting. The Mountain View City Council was doing 'Road Maintenance' work and re-laying the tar on the road. Believe it or not, I had never felt any problems on the same road before. THIS is the kind of excellence and maintenance standards that USA has - of course, it is foolish to think that India will attain such standards overnight. But, someone somewhere has to make the first move and I guess, with enough time, this can be achieved.

So, to sum it up, its good to know that India is shining. But it is also important to keep maintaining the shine. After all, all that glitters is not gold - its our responsibility to make sure that positive changes keep happening in India and that India moves towards further prosperity.

Salaam India !