Friday, March 24, 2006

India Shining

AT Kearney has ranked India as the most preferred country for offshore outsourcing. India is among top few in the emerging markets in the retail sphere. The World Economic Forum at Davos featured 'Incredible India' as a theme. George W Bush has suggested that Americans learn Hindi and Chinese. Indian stock markets are booming. Automobiles, healthcare, supercomputing, biotechnology, education, technology and many more sectors in India are steadily climbing to be the best in the world. All publications talk about the burgeoning Indian middle class and the demographic advantage that India has with more than 50% of the population being under 30.
When I read all this I am reminded of the time when I was growing up when Indians as a race suffered from low self esteem, all things across shores towards west seemed so attractive. Kids at school loved showing off their pens, pecilboxes, toys and gadgets from abroad. Most students (they still do I think) studied hard to clear SAT/GMAT/GRE examinations. "Idhar rakha hi kya hai?" (No future here) they would say. Those of us who have relatives abroad would wait impatiently for the suitcases of our relatives to be opened, which seemed to have a characteristic 'foreign' smell. We would be so thrilled to receive gifts of foreign chocolates, clothes, shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, foodstuffs, gadgets and so on. Nothing which was Indian seemed to appeal, we were a dismal lot who were never happy with our country.
The self esteem levels were quite low even about 7-8 years back but gradually it started changing. What changed our perception about our country? The poor are still poor, people still sleep on the pavements, the children still beg on the streets, Mumbai still has the world's largest slum, the politicians are still corrupt and the system still does not work. In a recent article in Newsweek by Fareed Zakaria, there were few lines which seemed interesting and relevant, they are as follows:
India has vast and growing numbers of entrepreneurs who want to make money. And somehow they find a way to do it, overcoming the obstacles, bypassing the bureaucracy. "The government sleeps at night and the economy grows," says Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter Gamble in India.
It was all happening right under our noses but we never realized that we are getting somewhere. The first to spot this as an opportunity was the ruling political party BJP who put together the 'India Shining' election campaign which I thought was quite well done. The message was loud and clear - India is happening - the new India has arrived. The middle class may be educated enough to see through crafty strategies of political parties but somehow the message was rooted in their sub concience. They woke up and looked around and found that a lot is really changing for the better and they felt good about themselves and the country. Now whether BJP had brought about the positive changes in the economy is open for debate, but their ad did wonders for realization.
The media and the international consulting firms stepped in as well and the newspapers and magazines were and still are flooded about various reports and analysis about India's bright future. People like me who grew up beleiving that nothing good can ever happen to this country now have happily altered their view point for the better and now we work towards that goal and beleive in the reality 'India Shining'.


The Comic Project said...

Whatever my opinion about the BJP and its allies might be, this was one smart PR campaign though it might have cost BJP the elections.

Kausum said...

I too feel the same.

When I graduated in 2000, the Y2K year, I saw the Software industry starting on an upward curve. This is the time when Y2K based projects were over and good software technological projects came. This is the time manufacturing still was in the dumps in terms of expanding. Jobs were competetive but not like the earlier decade of being non-existent.

Mid-2001 / Early 2002 Saw the drive of corporates to streamline things. Use IT as an enabler. Both for manufacturing as well as financial institutions. This was essentially, I felt the foundation for a stable progress.

Returning to India in 2004 for a couple of months after a year. The outsourcing boom was well on. Jobs and Salaries were high. Manufacturing industries were also having jobs and ready to face the market.

I have heard a lot for the last 2 years, and next week we when I see India, I am guessing lot have changed.

runawaysun said...

I disagree. You are looking at a very small segment of the timeline and definitely an even smaller segment of the population.

India began shining in mid-1980s under Rajiv Gandhi's leadership. Without his encouragement and focus on the IT industry, there wouldn't have been an IT revolution in our country. In fact, many of you would not even have the jobs you hold today.

As far as the overall economic development goes, and the wonderful effects of the 'India Shining' campaign, these are misrepresented. The economic development in India is primarily an urban phenomenon. Rural India is still in shambles and suffering.

My posts in early-September 2005 talks about some of these issues.

ichatteralot said...

@TCP: I agree completely

@Kausum: You are bound to see quite a few changes - most of them positive and the IT job market is booming.

@Runawaysun: I agree - whatever has happened to IT & Telecom is all thanks to Rajiv Gandhi & Manmohan Singh. Yes I also agree that the 'shine' is restricted to urban areas but incomes are increasing, industries are expanding so there is bound to be a trickle down effect - maybe slow though.

Sandeep Meher said...

i was/am lucky to be a part of the software industry and i think many of us here have had the opportunity to be on both the sides (as kids smelling the foriegn stuff from some relatives/friends or hearing about it and now bringing the foreign stuff for others). but those who have not been the part of these foreign jaunts, it is still mundane life - yeah in addition to the mobile phones, malls, and page3. but the number of people who have "shone" is really less than the people who are suffering. and indeed bjp lost the elections due to that.
btw, there is a new breed in coming up due to the stock market boom (investors in equity are rich and getting richer). i just hope those who enter now don't get gutted.