Anyone who visited India today after a ten year gap would be amazed by the changes so long as you did not scratch too far below the surface. This is a country with a burgeoning and confident middle class that is attracting back its diaspora of citizens. When business is driving change, there are remarkable changes taking place. India’s seething populace is a deep well of often remarkable talent: visit Silicon Valley in the USA to see the truth of it. Look at some of the traditional structures and far less is changing: most notably political structures and an underlying ooze of corruption that ensure that too many infrastructure projects in which the state has a guiding hand are awash with back handers and failed delivery.
India’s Commonwealth Games are growing more tainted by the day with falling bridge fatalities and an Athlete’s Village that provoked storms of protest from the visiting teams. The UK team is staying in a hotel and the New Zealand team has employed contract cleaners before moving out themselves. Some teams are considering not attending and others are horrified. This is supposed to show the New India of the 21st century. Instead it is showing the India of bygone years.
Indian nationals are not, sadly, surprised. They had hoped for better but have now retreated back into a shocked and somewhat sullen silence. How horrifying to see the vast abyss between India and China and its Beijing Olympics. It is apparent that India’s great leap forward has not been accompanied by an infrastructure leap. For many Indians, the hope is that the augeon stable of national politics may get a much needed cleanup in the near future, but few are holding their breaths in anticipation.
In 2009 India’s National reputation scored as 22/34 countries among G8 nationals. Interestingly, Indians expected to score in 8th position. Perhaps India wowed by the last ten years has lost sight of what it really is capable of. Their self image score was 82/100, but foreigners scored them at 50/100. The commonwealth games suggests that foreigners may well be right.
National reputations rise and fall each year but it takes time to develop infrastructure and political structures. India may have much further to go before it political institutions are a match for the innovative world beaters of their private sector!