Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Visit to India 2010

  • As far as my memory serves India was always a corrupt nation. What is different about corruption in 2010 is the scale. The scandals are no more in few crores. Each scandal is worth the GDP of a few nations. The Bofors scandal that happened around 1985 and the first my generation got exposed to, was worth only Rs.64 Crore; Today with 64 crore you probably can buy a 2BHK apartment in Peddar Road in Mumbai or may be give that sum to NDTV's, Padmashree winner Barkha Dutt to whore for a minister to save his seat in UPA government. It's value is *that* cheap. 
  • Scandals are not news anymore. There are so many scandals happening in tandem, that to keep a tab on one of them is like watching one TV channel when 232 are available. You got to push that remote button to surf. Following one Scandal at a time is boring.
  • Everything has multiplied, except people's attention span. That has infact been divided. You cannot hold anyone's attention for more than a few seconds unless you are talking money.
  • Why did we end up absorbing only the negatives of Capitalism? And please don't tell me it only has negatives.
  • For what it's worth, "common man" can now fly easily in India. Air Ticket fares are within reasonable range and Airports are as crowded as Bus Stands use to be in 1980s, when I used to travel in State Transport buses to Wani and Mardi. But that also means, newly built swank and plush Airports of Bombay and Delhi, now have overflowing trash cans. With capitalism came disposable income. Unfortunately money did not bring with it, civic sense and basic common civility. That flight has not landed yet.
  • Bombay was a mixed bag. One of my favorite cities from the yore, it's not a patch on it's old self. Atleast as far as civic sense, traffic discipline is concerned. It keeps hitting a new low, as a culture completely alien to Bombay of 70s and 80s,  makes it's footprint on the Bombayland. It's depressing and agonising at the same time. One can only wish this is a temporary phase in Bombay's life and one of my old favorites will rise like a renaissance again.
  • New Delhi was a revelation. Found much more disciplined than Bombay. Lane driving was followed for most part by our cabbies and I observed zero bottle necks. Of course the good old and notorious "badmashi" of public transport is still alive and kicking.
  • But it's not ALL negative. Change is happening and like any other change it's bringing both good and bad with it. It's upto India as a country how it absorbs good and rejects bad. If I had to put my money now, it will still be on India. With all that's going on, I somehow felt positive.
  • People are talking positive. They are enjoying. They seem to be happy. I met a lot of folks from my extended family and a few friends. All sounded positively encouraging. There were few cribs here and there, but overall there was a lot of happy vibes around.
  • If inspite of infinitely corrupt central government and an unscrupulous first family ruling the country like a banana republic, we are still feeling happy, imagine the transformation, if by stroke of luck, we end up having a semi-decent government at the centre. My hope increased many folds, when I saw the cover page of the latest Business Today magazine. Hope someone like him becomes our PM soon.
  • One last thing. My 11 year old niece said to me - "Mama, your generation failed us. You used and wasted resources without thinking about our future." I was amazed in equal parts by her confidence, knowledge and pure assertiveness in saying such a thing bluntly. Not that I can change what "my generation" did, but just the fact that she is aware and seemed like "ready to take on" was a winner as far as I am concerned. I wish and pray, her generation transforms India into something beautiful and positive, which probably my generation did not. And on that note... Jai Hind.

9 comments:

Blue Bike said...

Finally ! a new post ... and all nice points ... especially loved the line "With capitalism came disposable income. Unfortunately money did not bring with it, civic sense and basic common civility."

Hope you keep this a regular practice

kautilya said...

haha..thank u Blue Bike! yeh, i have been inconsistent and slacking lately. hope to revive this soon..

Indradeep said...

Good Read....Surprisingly no mention of the mega city of Asia - Nagpur. I bet it will be a little bit of everything you observed in all other cities.

sameerdeo said...

Nice one sir. Encouraging and disheartening at the same time. Encouraging because things seem to moving on the economy front. Disheartening because people's attitudes are still the same. They say, its not as difficult to fix financial or other problems in a company as it is to bring about a change in a companies "culture". By that analogy, imagine the scale of effort and time that would be required to change a nation's attitudes.

Sameer said...

Nice one sir. Encouraging and disheartening at the same time. Encouraging because things seem to moving on the economy front. Disheartening because people's attitudes are still the same. They say, its not as difficult to fix financial or other problems in a company as bringing about a change in a companies "culture". By that analogy, imagine the scale of effort and time that would be required to change a nation's attitudes.

kautilya said...

@Indradeep : thats true, i did not mention nagpur. i think the mega city will need it's own little post :)

@Sameer : that analogy is perfect. that's how it is and plus the diversity is enormous. the cultural sensibilities of our vastly populous nation changes every few 100 kms.
on a side note, which is why it is easier to implement and execute anything in smaller countries of europe which are by and large have monolithic demography, apart from being sparsely populated.

Ashu said...

Quite a visit... Welcome back!

As always, a nice post.

This was really a year of scams, each breaking its previous record. Regarding the 2G scam, it was amusing to see that Mr. Sibal was defending that the particular ministry (read the government) is less corrupt than what was reported by the CAG...

One that that is still a constant, the Nagpur Samosa... still the best! :)

Rathchakra said...

Good one....summarizes a lot that's happening there. On another note, overall the 'India' experiment is still working failry OK but over time do you think that the constant band-aid solutions for all it's problems will eventually (50 yrs?)result in it's dis-integration into smaller monolithic/manageable nations? (hope the Govt doesnt get hold of this comment and file 'sedition' charges against me).

kautilya said...

@Ashu : thanks man. ye, that kapil sibal really takes my goat..? and to think that he is one of the better ministers of current dispensation...!

@Rathchakhra : i m not sure, we'll implode into smaller nations. if i had to put my money on one narrative, it will be that India will infact grow stronger and come together as a nation rather than dis-integrate. and the reason that will happen is one word - Economics.