Wednesday, October 17, 2007

India in the future?

In a recent interview with Lee Kuan Yew - the much respected Minister Mentor of Singapore, he had a very interesting point to make about India:

Lee: They are a different mix, never mind their political structures. They are not one people. You can make a speech in Delhi; [Prime Minister] Manmohan Singh can speak in Hindi and 30, 40 percent of the country can understand him. He makes a speech in English and maybe 30 percent of the elite understand him.

In China, when a leader speaks, 90 percent will understand him. They all speak one language, they are one people. In India, they have got 32 official languages and in fact, 300-plus different languages. You look at Europe, 25 languages, 27 countries, how do you? The European Parliament? Had we not moved into one language here in Singapore, we would not have been able to govern this country.

It is our nemisis. Our greatest strength appears to be waning and has not become our Achilles heel. But why? Do we blame politicians? I personally believe they are the ones to blame. Stoking the "outsider" flame in order to gather votes- evidence in Karnataka, Maharashtra and many more states.

The IT boom and the resilient economy has thrust two very important aspects about our country into the light. Our inherent technical and economic prowess, as well as the widening rift between the have's and have-nots.

The in equal spread of wealth is not helping the country as the so called "middle class" is now moving forward with a renewed purchasing power, and the so called "sub-prime" are working harder but seeing no results. But the question is: Are they?

They might be: the standard of living is still going up, with the cost of credit coming down [strictly in the urban scenario], affordability is going up. However, just as they are able to afford a new white good, others are able to afford something bigger. The race to get a better and bigger object is leaving those in the sidelines and watching.

Our greatest asset was and is our diversity. We are a proud nation of languages, communities and cultures; however, that is our greatest disadvantage. Our official language is ... Hindi yes - but why is it that no signboard in Tamilnadu was allowed to be in Hindi? The whole anti-hindi drive continued and spread to various parts of Kerala and Karnataka as well. For what? Are we proud of our heritage as a nation or as states?

Kuan Lee's statement hit the nail on the head- when Manmohan Singh speaks in Hindi - very few understand. We need to work together as a country, to bringing up the country. Not as a state or a SEZ in a city.

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