Wednesday, October 15, 2008

fourteen days in India

I was lucky to visit India for the first time last month for 2 weeks. And I was lucky to be back in Tokyo with everything still intact. Here is the story behind it.

After arriving in the Delhi airport from another city in the evening
of the 13th day of my stay in India, I was told that a few explosions had just happened in the city. A few hours later I found out that the entire city was on high alert thanks to 5 carefully planned explosions that happened in several crowded areas in Delhi that very evening. Great.
The best part was that I actually went to one of the bomb sites a week ago. Speaking of luck, or cause & effect, or guardian angel, or whatever one calls that thing that saves your ass.

Explosions aside, my India trip was no doubt fascinating and definitely eye-opening. People were very friendly and welcoming. And there are lots of them. I mean lots of them. Lots of people everywhere, in the middle of no where, and anywhere in between, regardless of where the hour hand is pointing on your watch. One could not help but wonder, why would there be so many people walking here, at this hour?! Who are these people, where did they come from, and where are they heading? Simply fascinating.

Having read Thomas L. Friedman's book, "The World is Flat", I had the impression that India is really the up-and-coming super country after China, in terms of growth, supported by her vast army of hardworking and intelligent IT engineers, entrepreneurs, etc.

After being there myself, I have mixed feelings now. Yes, you can't argue against the "hardworking and intelligent IT engineers" part, but there is still a long way to go for India to join the big boys in the "developing country" category, in my humble opinion.

Right now, to me, India is still largely underdeveloped. The potential is absolutely there, crying out loud to be fully discovered and exploited. But fundamental issues need to be addresssed first. Just to name a few, there is poverty, safety and security, public transportation, and public hygiene.

Easier said than done, as India is a vast country, covering roughly 1.2 million square miles of land, it will take a huge amount of effort to address those problems. Factor in the recent economic crisis, now, the Indian government truly has a herculean task at hand.

Now that China/Beijing has set the standard, until India is able to pull off a similar major international event like the Beijing Olympics 2008 in style, this fascinating country will be scrutinized and compared to her big sister more than ever before.

PS: I am not an expert at all these, but this is just how I feel after my visit.