I have travelled back and forth to India for over 15 years. Since 1990, it has made a lot of progress and impressive progress at that. But it strikes me for every two steps forward, the country takes several steps back somewhere else. A few have become very rich, several hundred million have more disposable wealth and hopeful than before, and then there are hundreds of millions whose plight is worse than Africas.
Disorganized chaos, lack of national pride, and just plain idiotic ways to do things is limiting their true potential. Some of the smartest and well rounded people I have worked with happen to be from that subcontinent or first generation descendents. Granted many came in the 90s, they tell me that US is the only place where their multitude of talents was valued irrespective of race, color or caste. I am not so certain of the race thing, but I do agree that opportunities for the folks who want to play by the rules do exist here.
Things that strike you when you visit any jor cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, several things strike you. First, no one cares about much anything. Second, the rich and the connected can get anything done. Third, law and rules are a suggestion and not many follow them. Fourth, infrastructure plain stinks - a good rain shower and the whole thing simply grinds to a halt. Fifth, the nation in general has a band-aid "this is good enough" mentalilty to everything. Perfection has no place here. And that shocks me to no extent, when you look at Taj Mahal, or the brilliant works of Ramanujan. Meritocracy is limited to schools and administrative exams, but then caste, creed, religion, last names take over. Sixth, no one has any national pride. Religious or regional pride, yes, national pride, no. People spit, defecate or throw plastic anywhere they want. It stems from the generous constitution of the country, where anything goes. You want to shut down the place for protest, you got it. You want to practice you religion, have multiple wives, choose to communicate in anyway, you got it. You want to divide up your state by sub regions, you got it. You want to respect every holiday there is, you got it (India has one of the fewest working days in the developing or developed world, except maybe Europeans where no one works in August). You want to have a multi-party rule, you got that too. Right or wrong, a very expansive democracy.
This is where I truly appreciate karma. If you did not beleive in God you will. More people get back and forth from home to work without getting mentally or physically unscathed, than they should. Driving here or any part of South east Asia for that matter is an experience, not for the faint hearted. Also this uncertainty of life caused by circumstances, pollution or beliefs have created a deep need for spiritual consultants. Religion, astrologers, numerology, blind faith pervades everywhere.
India is about to host the Commonwealth Games, the published reports suggest nothing is on schedule. But the games will begin well, go one and end - they just hope the band-aid does not fall off, and most of the times it doesnt. Everyone will call it a sucecess, inspite of everything. And there lies the conundrum.
There are reasons why India will lag China forever. But that does not mean it has no hope. In fact, they are the most hopfeul and happy people amongst all polled worldwide. Also, they have the most diverse food pallete there is, no matter what anyone in the West says - they just don't get it. And wonderful traditions to top it, based on over five thousand years of institutional memory. A small amount of structure will go long way. A unifying leader will take them a long way. A proud attitude will climb any obstacles. Or else, it will be more disorganized or idiotic than ever.