Here's a giant article on India's economic growth -- The Next Industrial Giant Is ... India? Fascinating to see the competition between India and China in this article and the very real distinctions between their economic systems. I'm looking forward to spending a great deal of time in both countries in the coming years.

Interesting article, but also sad. There is much nobility in simlier agrarian lifestyles that will be lost along the way, I fear. Still, I'd rather live in a future where India keeps China's rapacious growth in check. One interesting nit...the bit of the story where the dock workers are described as "not talking much"...I'm wondering whether those were really Indians. I've spent hours parsing questions that could have been asked in 10 seconds, but in fact took more than a minute to state because of the basically prolix nature of Indian speech. Ah well. Let me know when you are going to India. You know its my favorite destination, I'm sure!

Posted by Danese Cooper on September 03, 2006 at 04:29 PM JST #

Good to know that people have such high expectations of India in terms of being a competitor to China. But the situation is far from rosy here.

Posted by Bharath R on September 04, 2006 at 08:36 AM JST #

This was forwarded to me by a colleague of mine who works at Sun and I think its a bit over the top and worthy of some serious comment.

That article puts on such a sweet, rosy and positive front when the ground realities are so different. How does one comment on the NYTimes? There has been a profusion of the feel-good articles on India recently and I think its about time someone clarified the propaganda.

There is truly no concept or vision of a progressive India in the minds of most Indians. I put it very bluntly - any industrial progress that we have had over the last decade has been due to the efforts of a few individuals in the private sector and the nature of circumstance. (ex - our middle class is english educated). That might make our growth admirable, but it does not make it sustainable in the long term.

We are in some ways a massively deteriorating country whose faults are hidden under our recent GDP growth rate and the guise of our culture. Our political system is one of the most corrupt in the world. We rank in the bottom half of all the corruption surveys conducted, usually next to countries like Columbia. We have a pervasive mob-mentality and endemic corruption that is ingrained in our social and political psyche.

If you think I am exaggerating, come here and try to do one simple thing. Try and get a driving license in Bangalore :-). We had an innocent German colleague here who went to atleast 5 different agencies, 3 police stations and upteen number of bureaucrats before he realized he wasnt getting anywhere. Some enteprising fool had even told him that it requires the approval of the police commisioner - the poor guy actually waited many hours for an interview with the commisioner - one he didn't get ofcourse. He thought it was all part of the normal 'process'. (something that Germans have whole-hearted belief in). He was stumped when I advised him to simply pay some cash to a private 'driving-school', which would then procure the license for him. Or else resign himself to waste a week on the matter or use the media to highlight the issue. (which has been done upteen times).

I dont think the average westerner will ever understand what I am talking about unless he or she lives here for some time and travels to places where law- and-order has completely broken down. Ah yes, it is still 'democratic' - your average member of the legislative assembly in the state of Bihar is a thug who is elected again and again through force, bribery and sheer power. He is usually a recognized and established criminal. And he can also stand for inclusion in our national parliament where he will pass any bill that he or his coterie can derive benefit from. Our recently passed 'reservation' bill that mandates 49% of all seats in higher education for 'backward' classes is one such example. It has been passed in the name of social justice and equality. The younger, middle-class which had all but forgotten about their caste, (I dont even know which caste I am), is now forced to recognize these divisions again. Its only a matter of time when these reservations are also enforced on the private sector.

Let me put that succintly - in the future, the private sector might be forced to hire fully incompetent people. Merit apparently is now disfavoured as a form of elitism. It has now become a standing joke - people are now fighting to be called 'backward'.

Westerners who are still all rosy about India should observe our parliament proceedings on televsion. If you think Bush is bad, you will horrified at what you see. We have mob-fights in parliament with members tearing the seats and throwing mikes and speakers at one another. That is _not_ a joke. There was a lot of resistance to introducing televsion in parliament a couple of years ago - but once members realized they could score points of each other in front in TV and nobody could question what they did, everyone warmed to the idea.

The same thug who is a member of parliament was not savvy enough to recognize the the power of the RTI (right-to-information) act when it was passed a year ago. Most MP's dont attend parliament or they sleep in it - and by that I mean 'really sleep'. Only when his actions were questioned, did he belatedly realize that the act could expose him. So, very hurriedly, a bill was convened to make the act toothless. Only by the grace of sustained nation-wide demonstrations over the last few months, has there been effected a postponement of this bill to the next session. However, that didn't prevent the 'Office of Profit' bill from being passed. This allows a member of parliament to hold any office of profit and merrily use the same for self-aggrandizement. Our President (a powerless position in India) rejected this bill and had it returned to the parliament, but the self-serving bunch returned it back within a day whereupon the President (by law) was forced to accept it. There was around a year ago, an anti-corruption bill introduced to prevent people with criminal convictions (people who have been proven guilty in murders/slaughter/rape/worse) to become members of parliament. Needless to say, it was laughed off.

We have one non-corrupt entity in our country and that is the Supreme Court. Our supreme court has become a mender that fixes things that politicans break and a police station for individuals who trangress the law too freely. Public interest litigations are filed by ex-Supreme court justices which are then considered by current Supreme Court justices. All rational decisions and any social justice which has been delivered in the last few years has been solely through PIL's. PIL's have become a life-saver for India - so much to the extent that many politicans are considering a bill where this power too can be negated - all in the name of reducing the workload of our courts ofcourse!

When I look at things in perpsective, I do not see any difference between a terrorist suicide-bomder who wantonly destroys in the name of his religion and a criminal politician who breaks down civilized law and order by exercising power for his sole ends.

So lets stop with the propaganda please. We are grateful for Western investment - it has given us jobs. But take all you hear from our great goverment and head-honchos of our corporate sector with a massive pinch of salt. The Taj Mahal is on shaky ground I am afraid, and everyone is blind to that.

Posted by Tarun Elankath on September 04, 2006 at 12:02 PM JST #

Wow, that's quite a reaciton from a three sentence post on India. And I didn't even get into my own opnions! :) Well, that's because I know next to nothing about India, so I'll be in learning mode for a long time to come. But believe me, guys, I know who the U.S. media works. I take nothing at face value, especially complex economic and political stories like the emergence of entire nations. I wasn't critical of the story because I don't have the experience to question it yet. But, from a western point of view, this story is fascinating, and I intend to get involved -- just as I will in China and . I also have some personal interest in India, which I'll explore later. But I do think you for your perspective. It's \*very\* helpful as I educate myself, so please feel free to always offer advice. And Danese, yes, I know you spend a great deal of time in India. I'll let you know when I book my very first trip. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on September 04, 2006 at 02:13 PM JST #


There are three Indian programmers on my team, and we have all sorts of discussions about India. Also, I have a good friend who is from Sri Lanka, and what Tarun says rings very true.


Posted by Christopher Mahan on September 04, 2006 at 07:00 PM JST #

Just a few words to the naysayers, unfortunately they usually turn out to be either Indians themselves or our oh so very high heeled neighbors. I would rather not get into their comments here.
"The Next Industrial Giant Is ... India? ". The topic speaks about the prospect of such a possibility. No one claimed we are a economic powerhouse yet but hell we sure "can" be. Things need to change and yes they are changing albeit a bit slower than most would like, we need to bear the burden of the democracy we enjoy and employ. Don't expect the development that took the west centuries to achieve happening within a fraction of the time out here. I too crib about a lot of things around me, read my blog for that, but hell I try to offer my 2paise on how it can change as well.
Ever think about guiding your German colleague through his ordeal? Its not all "rosy" here but the rose plants are laid and their buds will bloom sooner or later.

Posted by allen mathias on September 05, 2006 at 06:38 AM JST #

Hi Allen,
I agree with you. I was possibly over-critical, but then one gets fed up of press propaganda at times, of which there has been a surfeit over the last couple of months - when reality paints a different picture.
And yes, I did help my german colleague get a DL. He merrily roamed about everywhere on a bike and thankfully didn't get himself killed. He actually managed to adapt to b'lore traffic conditions!
(Btw.. your blog is really hilarious yaar. Very funny and very true)

Posted by Tarun Elankath on September 06, 2006 at 11:35 AM JST #

Hi, Nice blog! Why don’t you consider writing about some of the new “India 2.0” sites that are creating a little buzz as well? Eg: Thanks! Rajeev

Posted by rajeev on September 28, 2006 at 10:46 AM JST #

I am not surprised. They have the man power and labour is cheap. India is definitely the next industrial giant!

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