Sunday, August 19, 2007


A country whose media is obsessed with the west. A country that loves to compare itself with the new world. But does it merit the comparison? Is it fair to compare a fledgling country, 60 years old, with something that has seen over two centuries since its birth?

Sure, my views would be biased by the city life that I've lived here. Arguably it is the biggest megalopolis in the country. Maybe that view is biased enough for it not to translate to the rest of the country? Maybe its the spark that will ignite the flames in the rest of the country.

I've spent one year out of India. Here for a short trip, I feel like comparing the life I've seen out and the life I've lived in for most of my life. Don't ask me why. It just happens as I step out, and see the liveliness that is home.

The biggest thing u notice here is telephony. Mobile phones are practically omnipresent. Everyone has one. The ring tones are strong enough evidence of that. As my plane touch tarmac at the Sahar... sorry CST, i could hear rings of all kinds. It brings a smile to the face...... For a country that is developing its technological front, the cost of telephony is remarkable. Compare it with everyone's favourite comparison... and u see that incoming calls are free... and calls are at a fraction of what are made elsewhere. Sure, there's no nights and weekends free calling, but at what price is that being touted there? Amazingly high rentals!

Another point to consider.. domestic air travel. This is where i sincerely believe that Indian travellers are king. Pick a flight.. any flight ... and u get food... water.... candy.... maybe a PTV... Flip the coin, and u are lucky if u get peanuts. Is competition so lacking there? I cant imagine costs need to be cut to such an extent that the consumer has to "suffer." Its not like all flights are cheap either.

Public transport. Now that is amazing here. True, its typical to my city... but then compare it with something like SFO, where people keep talking about the BART... and u can see how things run here. Clockwork is an understatement. Trains and buses serve millions in a day.... Again, that is probably because there are millions in a city bursting at its seams... and u don't find that in too many other places. Again, i haven't seen NYC... so cant compare there, but I hear its as good. Yes, Indians there say the train system there is "as good."

Behaviour. This is something people talk about a lot. Go there and everyone says the people aren't as friendly to us, that we are still looked down upon, that they don't care to understand us. But does anyone stop to think? Aren't we the visitors? Shouldn't we understand them? No, most of us just go there and sink into our shells. Crouching away in the hope that they don't see us. If they do, then run. So they don't. And then we blame them for not trying. Why should they? They were fine before you got there, and will be even after u leave. The experience that should be gained is yours.. go out there and reach out. That is what they are good at... always ready to mingle with anyone who is there. Its not that we aren't good at it here. In our own country, arguably we are one of the friendliest people around.

So is India Shining?


Dhiren said...

Interesting post....

Just because the shine on the other side just got a bit duller, did that make India Shine ? I hope its not that :-)

I do believe that for the middle class, the PPP is perhaps equivalent to a developed country.

If only the political class does rise to the occasion then the trickle effect should ensure a good deal for all.

Rupsha said...

Pretty good comparison and kinda brings to the fore that India too is not too far behind no matter how much people think US is the place to be...

Bajju said...

I liked the comparison of people...good work here. Though, I would like more on this...maybe, a series with different themes.

Jai Hind.

Aparna.G said...

Quite frankly, I dont believe in dividing people on the basis of land to say, "You are aafrikaan.. and I am Indian".. Its more in terms of belonging, which is very human..

India is definitely shining in many areas none the less.. But, shining at the costs of poverty,corruption, imbalace in money, religious fundamentalism, politics..

India has a long way to go before it is proclaimed 'Shining', i guess..In comparison, in some fields, YES... but in many others, NOPE!

Aparna said...

Still have to see the other side of the coin to comment on this.

Still searching said...

So cool that u got to go to India for a while... lucky!

U know, I was also thinking the same thing when I got out of India first time - that the telecom sector provides such cheap service in India, its difficult to understnad why incoming calls AND sms should be charged! But I think this has more to do with sustaining infrastructural costs in a mature market, rather than a growing market like India...

Oh yeah, I was totally shocked the first time I flew here and all I got was Pretzels! I was like, is there some more coming?! :) Hehehe.. thats ridiculous!

And I totally agree about the fact that Indians come here and go into their shell instead of trying to mix with the local people... we dig our own graves, and then wonder why people think of us as a bunch of "geeky, quiet, intellectual" people! (Not that there's anything wrong with that either!)

zoxcleb said...

i like the way u put it in your first line. I think that sums it up perfectly.

@rupsha, bajju

poverty,corruption, imbalace in money, religious fundamentalism, politics are all things that most of the world suffers from, they just do a good job of hiding it.


@still searching
yeah it was a good break.. but back now.
the telecom sector also has to do with cross subsidizing the free nights and weekends. I think they get their money just on the corporate usage of their services.
and yeah, people will be people. U cant change that...

felicity said...

Everything you said, rings so true.