Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Parting thoughts on India

India is, despite some appearances, a warm and inviting place. The people are friendly and always willing to help. They have a tradition of respect and some formalities that is refreshing in today's world. Like many countries that are still struggling to come to grips with the financial woes of their populace, India has places where citizens live in abject poverty. They don't make an effort to hide it either. But, from my short time in the country, I believe that India has the capacity and potential to overcome much of this problem in the coming decades; it will not be an overnight event.

India reminds me of the US in ways. In modern times, they got their Independence from Britain, they are a mix of diverse cultures under a single umbrella -- a melting pot if you will. There are some ethnic tensions but most people I met seems to ignore them and accept others as they are. India is made up states with a central federal government and there seems to be the same kind of politicking between these two groups as there is in the US.

I also believe India to be on the edge of a technological renaissance. Fast Internet bandwidth is coming to many places and will soon be affordable to most middle income families, mobile phones are everywhere and the main communications tool. As the mobile phone market evolves with information gathering and sharing features, we'll see even more social change.

Despite such a large population, India moved early to get control over the matter of air quality. In Delhi, almost all public transport, including taxis and three-wheelers, run off of compressed natural gas (CNG) instead of gas or diesel. I noted a fair number of private autos appear to be running on CNG as well. It seems to me that the knowledge of how to bring this about and properly manage it would be an excellent export for India. My experiences in many other major cities (including many in the US) seem to indicate that it would be warranted and welcome.

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