Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is "India Everywhere" just a slogan?

Simon Robinson of Time magazine recounts incidents from his stay in India and concludes that:

... parts of Africa have better services and infrastructure than India, and just as good prospects for development. It's just that Africa hasn't yet come up with a catchy slogan to sell itself.

India Without the Slogans | TIME

I hope that Africa can make the most of their prospects.

The question in my mind is whether India Everywhere was just an empty marketing campaign.

Mr Robinson has a litany of woes to support his conclusion.

... one of them [a Global Fortune 500 executive] asked why his cell phone kept dropping out on the trip from the airport to his hotel. "It could just be that you were passing through the diplomatic area and there may have been security issues," offered an Indian colleague. "Or it could just be India."

Really? I live in the diplomatic area and do travel to the airport. It has never happened to me! 

New Delhi has several service providers, both CDMA and GSM, and they are not all equal. You get what you pay for. The Global Fortune 500 executive really ought to speak with his home service provider about the poor quality of coverage he got in New Delhi, when others have no problems (assuming he bothered to check and found this to be true).

The glitches could be due to incompatibility between the handset and the network protocols or configuration of the handset. But these things are a nightmare everywhere, including the US.

I was brought up in Delhi. In some areas, you had to wait for 15 years to get a telephone signal, not a few seconds. The long distance call charges were extortionate, if the service was available at all. And hearing the dial tone, when you picked up a phone was always a source of pleasure.

Incredible IndiaYes, India has the problems listed in this Time essay, but religious conflicts? Where in the world don't you have them? And the recent Mecca Masjid explosion in Hyderabad is a terrorist, not religious act. Surely the two are not same?

Yes, it is true that "compared to Beijing, which can decide to build a road today and start on it tomorrow, Indian authorities have to consult and win over the people".

It is true that "Fixing problems is difficult in a democracy". But even identifying the problems correctly is impossible without one. It is democracy that has prevented India from slipping into chaos despite the economic ruin that it was at the time of independence.

India is "a place of momentum and hope" at the moment. It hasn't arrived, but is surely on the right track.


Link: Incredible India

No comments: