The New York Times is doing a series of articles, India Accelerating. They have already done three of them, here, here, and here. In last five-six years, I go to India very often, and I see tremendous changes that are far more than they have ever been in past. Yet I feel changes are slow even though the Indian landscape is definitely changing in all sense of the word. But then successful changes are always slow - a change too fast fails and that is the way even evolution works in nature. One way to sum change in India is the chaos one sees on the road in Delhi or Hyderabad or Roorkee with modern cars, elephants, bullock-carts, cycles, and pedestrians all on the same crowded road surging forward in different directions, and jostling for space resulting in quite an exhilarating spectacle. There is a new optimism that is very palatable.
In other ways, India is frozen in time but then Jet Airway (little more than 10 years old) has better food and service than any airlines I have been in different parts of the world. India is still a developing country with unsurmountable challenges ahead but the new VJs on MTV India are prettierand barristas more hip than their counterparts elsewhere. Inspite of a bullish and remarkable economic growth seen recently, the country is still littered with incomplete and abandoned construction projects, and shoddy infrastructure all over. Are the public restrooms cleaner yet? Nevertheless, people from all walk of life in India are raising and asserting their expectations. Recently, I have not been to Indian villages to see how much the sense of change is osmosing through there. I am going to do this on my blog.
I am inviting people to write on "India moves: I see a traffic jam with Toyotas, cows, and elephants in Old-New Delhi". You can only write about mega-changes that are going on in India (any aspect of the change - economic, social, political - you choose) but can only cover changes during years 2004-2005 in no greater than 1 page length. You should have lived or visited India for at least two weeks in the years 2004-2005 and before (to use as a reference point) to qualify. You have to emphasize the changes or lack of in India. The write-up can be deeply personal to anecdotal to general commentary to something in between. There are no prizes and need not be a formal write-up. The reason is to think about the changes in India - are they enough or the ones you want. You pour your heart out but try to write in a way that even somebody who does not know much or anything about India appreciates and understand your viewpoint. You do not have to be an Indian or Indian origin.
There are three ways we can do this: a) You write on your blog, inform me, and I will put up the hotlink here, b) If you do not have a blog, yet you want to write about the topic seriously, I can give you a guest account here, c) You can leave your write-up as a comment here. This is all to gain insights, think, and most importantly have fun doing it. I want to see brilliance and creativity. I will ignore and delete shoddiness and unimaginative thoughts.
Chai Garam Chai (Tea Hot Tea)
Something that has not changed in India is sipping chai (tea) on a foggy, cold morning in a dhaba (a tea stall or a small restaurant with indoor-outdoor cafe like ambience - very characteristic of India).
The purpose of this post is not to criticize each other, their views and perceptions, etc. The aim is to different people tell how they see India is changing as of now. Everyone's viewpoint will be different and unique. I am not here on this post seeking a debate or straying from the scope of the write-up I put forth - those are for other occasions. We have digressed in what the point of whole post was - let us bring that back. How do you see changes in India, through your eyes, not mine or others?
I am seeking your words as a camera lens. You tell me what you see - only yours. Bravo!!
New related essays as of December 6th, 2005:
The show goes on.
Amartya Sen of Harvard University, Nobel laureate in economics, argues that as India receives more attention, so must its practice of democracy
“The frustrating thing about India”, I was told by one of my teachers, the great Cambridge economist Joan Robinson, “is that whatever you can rightly say about India, the opposite is also true.” This will continue to apply in 2006.
Is India a successful democracy? Certainly. Its multi-party democracy with free elections, free speech and civil liberties has been functioning well, and it has had fine side-results such as the elimination of famines (a frequent occurrence in British India—the last, in 1943, was just four years before independence). But no, it cannot have been entirely successful, since democratic rights have not eliminated undernourishment, ill health and other deprivations. Is the Indian economy doing very well? Yes, it is growing fast and there is a lot of new income around. But poverty is still very grave. Is Indian education a great success? Yes, of course, India has a large, well-educated and highly trained population and it provides skilled labour for academia, for science, for technology, for literature, for music and the fine arts, for administration, for management, for medicine—both within India and across the world. Yet nearly a third of the population is still illiterate.