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India a superpower? A reality check!
Ujjal Bhattacharya
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September 08, 2006

The growth of Indian economy has been explosive by any reckoning. It, however, depends largely on the benchmarks we have set ourselves. If it is China, that we are looking up to, we have a lot of catching up to be done.

The only advantage we have over China is that the world's lingua franca is largely English. But the comparison more or less ends there.

The markets will quickly pronounce that our economy is booming as the Sensex is on the up. But if you were to look closely, it is the foreign institutional investors which are making the Sensex scale northwards by banking their money in the Indian market. They are doing it because the exchange rates are in favour of them.

There's so much room for improvement. Can we even think of an ambulance getting to our apartments within 90 seconds after a complaint of a chest pain.

There is a lot of lip service about India's great strides in the recent times.

Outsourcing to a certain extent has helped the Indian economy. However, there is a dark underside to 'outsourcing,' with incidents that have been detrimental to the mosaic of Indian family and society. Just by changing the name from Patnaik to Potter and imitating the western lifestyles hardly makes the country progressive.

We need to stop waiting for acknowledgement from the West. This may sound clich�d but we are still the same. For real development and progress, we need to take concrete steps towards it. And for that, we need to address certain issues very, very strongly.

For example, porous borders cannot be sealed completely. Even the US could not stop Mexicans from crossing the border, but it helps that they have the law in place and it works to some extent.

India has become a dumping ground for neighboring countries with their over-population and economic problems. Illegal migration threatens the very fabric of our country's stability and security. We stand to lose far more by not securing our borders.

As long as the Indian government tacitly acknowledges illegal immigration, the problem will continue to exist. We need to start somewhere to stop these unwanted immigrations. Some sort of surveillance aircraft to patrol the border area during day and night or permanent barbed fencing would address this issue.

Then there is the never-ending dynasty rule. The Kennedys, Bushes, and Gores are familiar names and stories. In fairness, most of them -- like their Indian political kith -- had to earn their positions by getting elected, although familial connections did give them a head start.

Take, for example, the one-party Communist regime of Cuba headed by Fidel Castro. There are subtle signs that the torch would be passed to his brother Raul in which case the grand design of Washington of sending back exiled Cubans to replace Fidel will never lead to fruition.

In our country, every politician you name either is in its second or third generation with the Gandhi family being the fourth generation.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This makes a mockery of the democracy. At least, we should have some rule in place where an elected representative's term should have a limit.

Then comes the Law of the land. India has a backlog of over 3. 5 million court cases and the Supreme Court has the backlog of 35,000-plus cases. Our legal system is a stumbling block for access to quick justice by the common man.

If you look into The Guinness Book of Records, you will find an entry, which says that the most protracted law suit ever, recorded was in India. A 'Mahant' -- who is a keeper of a temple -- filed a suit in Pune in 1205 AD and the case was decided in 1966: 761 years later! Normally it takes between 5 to 15 years for a case to be decided in an Indian court.

The legal system in India needs to become more efficient so that quick justice can be a rule rather than an exception. These are institutional constraints on the growth of India. Revision and updation of the inherited laws is required to serve the changing needs of the country.

Delay in justice lead to increase in crime rates, including killings, tortures and rapes, with impunity. Every year, thousands of people are imprisoned for political reasons, often without charges of trials.

There is no doubt that all the awareness in our country has been brought by the media. They are playing the job of a perfect watchdog. Nowadays people wait for an acknowledgement from the media to react. It has become a reactive society.

However, it is also true that many people do get influenced by the media which can have vested interest sometimes. Also a lot of negativity is displayed due to the commercial aspect.

Media coverage is also mostly confined to Mumbai and Delhi. Take, for example, during the heavy rains in Mumbai, the media came up with statistics that more than 40 per cent of the taxpayers money is generated by Mumbai for the Centre and in return the allocation of funds is improper towards Mumbai. In this case media is acting as a catalyst.

The reality that is never mentioned is corporate tax which benefits Mumbai. Now Jharkhand would have got a much higher percentage than 10 per cent, if the income derived from Tata Steel [Get Quote] at Jamshedpur were credited to the province of Jharkhand. But their headquarters being in Mumbai, the benefit of the huge income-tax that is paid by Tata Steel goes to Mumbai and not to Jharkhand.

The Biblical saying 'To him that hath more shall be given.'

Ours is also a debating society. We don't work towards a solution. We are happy convincing 'logically.' We love preaching and love to be preached. Otherwise how on Earth can you justify a pastoral letter delivered last week in Kerala asking people to have more babies. People should start analysing and listening to it's own conscience.

I have been in the Middle-East for six months now and I keep telling most of them that India has changed a lot. It is not the same India which they have left.

We do not have a Starbucks or Donuts as yet, but it wont be long for them to set base there. But you will be surprised to know that people out here, even after spending the major part of their life here, are happy or busy planning to immigrate to Canada or Australia or the United States, but not back in India.

This makes me very sad and then I feel it is because of the step-motherly treatment for this section of the Diaspora.

The author is an IT systems & database architect

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