I recently completed my 24-day hectic trip to India. This was primarily to spend time with the close family members. It was a long overdue trip so expectations were high from both sides. Though I had access to Internet in patches but I tried to avoid using it to give myself some different perspective and pace. Also expanding our Bangalore office took some of my time.
At the same time I was out looking for the signs of “new India” and “India on the roll”. I found obsession with quality and customer service among optician, computer reseller and hotelier in Bangalore. There was a certain bet on the future, that me as a customer will come back again so be very nice to him today . I will write about these specific examples in more detail. Also visited primary and engineering colleges in South India. This was more to understand what makes private institutions click in South India. Was happily surprised there with the forward looking approach used by the management of these institutes. Using solar panel stations to power campus street lights impressed me.
Wherever I could I tried socializing “projects” such as AssuredWeb, open source training , RISC, Open source mindset in healthcare, mindset change schemes etc. Fascinating part of the “socializing your project” is that you get counter points and in more than one occasions counter points are right on money. You learn that good projects have to be simple to explain and it should relate in strong way to the most important question of “whats in it for me” ?
Like any other fast growth phenomena , there is a section of population not able to align with this new IT-enabled boom. That inability to understand and align is resulting in more pessimism than what rational thinking should allow. Along with this pessimism in few pockets I also observed significant divide between north and southern part of the country. This divide goes beyond just the difference in computer penetration, English language spread etc. This divide is now so pervasive that if unchecked this can stall the rosy growth projections which everyone thinks is bound to take India forward. That classic BIMARU state problems can cause significant social unrest in growth pockets such as Pune-Bombay, Bangalore etc. Its in national interest that BIMARU states get on the right trajectory. Doing my own bit in this regard we decided to launch NGO-type entity to focus on the development of Uttar Pradesh. Unlike traditional rural-focussed development approach, thinking is to initiate projects which can reverse the money flow by focussing on the excellence embedded in premier institutes of these states. Currently majority of BIMARU states are net consumers and net exporters of human resource. Ugly side of this is already showing up in Shiv Sena goons attacking Biharis in the fight for Railway job and Assames killing Biharis for similar job related reasons. More on this on UP2030 blog site.
My disappointment with media sector continues. I dont feel hesitant to put the entire blame on the media sector for seeding the communal hatred idealogy and promoting the status quo. This bias shows up in subtle and not-so-subtle form depending on local and national media. Obsession with all things Pakistan is just one aspect of it. Common people have nothing to do with Pakistan politics but there is an army of politicians, media personalities living off of Pakistan issue. Its not an accident that China doesnt get front page comparison. Comparison with China is not a saleable piece thats why !! Same is true with new TV news channels, your ears will get tired of hearing the ads for programs like – “Kaun banega Mukhyamantri” (who will become chief minister?) but there is no mention/discussion on “Kaun karega vikas” (who will do the development?). Not a single channel took care to explain the main development oriented issues. This is the biggest risk we have in India. Getting FOX channel treatment without any KQED equivalent alternative. Governance of TV media is another issue – any channel can throw your little kid into high-steam entertainment track any moment without any warning like – Parent discretion advised !! Here I think blogging can save our future by ensuring alternate trust-driven media stream.
Saw one instance where foreign company executive was using his “connection” among airline officials to expedite his baggage security clearance. When I confronted him he simply shrugged his shoulders !! Old India is still very much there, it shows up in familiar places – AC compartment in train where 20-odd officials are travelling to escort some big bueracrats or politicians. In the layers and layers of different India, this one is silently sleeping and will continue to sleep till the time cows come home.
In next few days I will be dissecting these threads in more detail.