Oh “India Shining”, Wherefore Art Thou?

A Catchy Sound Bite

India Shining was a slogan popularized by one of the leading political parties (BJP) during the elections of 2004. It was supposed to reflect the economic optimism of an emerging giant.

Prior to that, the Indian government had used it to market the country internationally. Since that time, it’s no lie to say that there was remarkable success in transforming the image of this country in the eyes of so many – within the nation, as well as far and wide, outside these borders.

In fact, many Indians seem to still believe that India Shining is the reality – if not now, then soon. To me, it feels like they’re fooling themselves – either immersed in naiveté or patriotic self-deception.

But Reality Bites

Here’s some of what is happening in this country that is leading me to this conclusion:

Economic Growth: Below expectations.

Inflation: High and rising.

Rupee: Down, way down…the lowest ever against the dollar last week.

Per Capita Debt: Rising steeply.

Industrial Output: Declining.

Trade Deficit: Growing.

Government: Paralyzed – by coalitions and many pockets of self-interest.  Except perhaps for removing cartoons from text books.  Big 😦 .

Alternative political party strength: Not very hopeful.

Corruption: Healthy. No, make that thriving.

Innovation: Huh?

Social Indicators: Declining. (Bangla Desh has overtaken India in nearly all of them).

India versus China: Sheesh…here’s one write-up on the topic – The elephant can not fly like the dragon unless winged.

Foreign Investment: Fleeing.

BRICS: What’s on its way – The “I “for India to be replaced by Indonesia.

Okay, so go ahead and ask me…am I not being a tad harsh here?  Isn’t the entire world experiencing a similar plight, especially economically? Aah, but while the entire world is experiencing this plight, the India growth story was supposedly intact and one of few exceptions.  No more!

Here’s something scary I just read.  The Financial Times asked a Western investor – What ails India? The reply: Everything. And then he went on further to say: “On every indicator we look at, there is a red flag. This country is close to becoming the Greece of Asia.”

Is that scary or what?!

Worried Yet?

People here need to get their heads out of the sand, stop being content with things as they are, stop believing all the hype about India Rising and India Shining, stop focusing all their attention on cricket and Bollywood, and wonder what is really happening to this country and what they can do about it!

Thomas Jefferson said about America – “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”  For all its faults, that country’s various governments over its short history have done more to accomplish this (prosperity and the pursuit of happiness) than virtually any other.  And the beauty of that democracy is that it allows this to happen. 

A government that genuinely takes care of its people rather than of its politicians can affect the same positive outcome in India. This is a democracy too. Isn’t it?

Mammoth Potential

You say then, is there no hope for India?  

Hah! But then you are asking a Pollyanna this question. Of course, there is hope! 

What is left that we can hope for are the two P’s.

PEOPLEall that human capital (and so much of it so young!) – surely among them there are some true leaders for the nation.

POTENTIALall that budding energy and those resources, waiting to be harnessed.

Now, India  just needs something or many someones who care enough to put these together and make them work FOR this country.

As someone once said: “The potential of the average person [nation?] is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”   

But as someone else once said  – “Potential has a shelf life”.

Sometimes, people (and governments?) mobilize towards solutions when a crisis looms. That time is now. Time for the real “India Shining” – the one that is waiting to be discovered behind an empty slogan.

Yes, I simply talk and write. And wish. But what I would do, if it did happen in my lifetime!

If only.




Posted on May 21, 2012, in expat, india, politics, quality of life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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