Modern India: A Future World Player for sure.

August 24, 2013 7:44 pm

Monsoons, Tigers, Temples and Rickshaws. These are just a handful of the words we immediately equate with the mystically enticing subcontinent. On a recent month-long visit to India in which I visited family and saw some of the sights, something occurred to me. This country ,which is steeped in ancient culture and time-honoured traditions, is changing and progressing like no country I have seen. Its journey into the modern age is happening so rapidly that its mind-boggling. India of 2013 is here and what an India it is!

Mumbai, the Indian city of dreams. I am greeted with sights and sounds all too familiar. Great throngs of people dressed in garments so bright and colourful it’s almost damaging to the retina , families dropping their bags and embracing each other in jubilation and the continuous beeping of horns emanating from a mixture of auto rickshaws, cars and strangely enough, two men on a bike balancing a huge pane of glass in between them, almost as though it was lifted from a Laurel and Hardy sketch!

Brands and technology are becoming ever more important.

We load our luggage into a taxi and set off into the hustle and bustle of the great Indian metropolis. I begin to take in the view of  sari clad old ladies with greying waist length hair moving calmly in and out of traffic, small run down shops stacked high with spices and all the metal dishes and cups one could want for a full course Indian meal and Temples slotted in-between high-priced Audi garages and shops selling Levi Jeans . It appears that many new building projects have begun across the city, just looking out of the car window you see the concrete jungle expanding out ever further, the large beast of a metropolis being fed more and more every day and the tree-like metal cranes becoming common sight to citizens of Mumbai.  Smaller, older and significantly more dilapidated structures are giving way to high-rise office buildings and huge shopping malls. Placed in and around such structures are huge billboards. Bollywood stars the size of King Kong promote diamond jewellery and  Lays Potato Chips to the public down below. As we continue through the packed streets the driver looks in his rear view mirror and asks us with a smile on his face: “Your first time in Mumbai?” to which my mother replies, “No we came here in 2006”. He then points through his open window: “Well a lot has changed here, that bridge, it’s a toll bridge, only completed a few years a go, it wouldn’t have even been here when you last came. You must have seen the new terminal building they are adding to the airport, all the modern things,  clothing shops, internet cafes,  under one roof”.

Though with all this modernity springing up in the home of Bollywood and Indian  big business, these vast new structures of steel and glass are being erected by slim young men who cling to rather unsafe looking bamboo scaffolding, truly a mix of the old and new coming together to push India into a new age.  We arrive at the CST station and climb out of the car and into the dry heat. A flock of porters dressed in the iconic red apparel flood towards us, they begin asking in a mixture of Marathi, Hindi and English if we need our bags carried to the train, to which we select one and the others stream off in search of more willing passengers in need of assistance.

Once  onboard the train I take my seat. As per usual I take out my mobile phone but after a few seconds I start to realise I’m not the only one swiping and tapping away at some kind of pocket sized electronic device. Everyone in this  rather aged carriage seems to be doing it,  they’re all part of the buzz. From a group of students huddled in a compartment watching a video on an ipad, to a gentleman in his mid to late sixties busily tapping and poking away at his phone oblivious to a salesman trudging up and down the train shouting: “Chai Chai” and occasionally handing out tea from his battered metal tank. There is a change in the air, an electrifying, exciting, mind bending change, I can feel it. As we pass endless little houses and what look like farming villages surrounded by rice fields and playing children, I spy words such as: “Idea”, “Airtel” and “Vodafone” brightly painted on clay brick houses, trees and fences. Then it dawns on me, these are all phone networks. Only in India could a modern concept such as a mobile network sit quite comfortably in between farms, Temples and agriculture with such ease and with such acceptance. That, despite the fact India clings to its traditions, it is quite happy to let new ideas flood in and take full hold. It is this very concept that India can adapt so easily and yet retain its cultural identity.  That despite its staunch reputation for arranged marriages, Caste segregation and widening gap between rich and poor, the country has come a long way since the Indian tri-colour was raised for the first time in the Nations capital on the 15th of August 1947. I still feel that the country has a long way to go and has to resolve a fair few of its grass roots problems but if India continues at the pace its going, I both hope and  believe that this vast nation of so much diversity has the potential to become a very significant global player economically and politically. Even when flicking through the TV channels,  your’re bombarded with adverts which annoyingly flash up while attempting to enjoy  the best bit of a film. Ads for TATA Nano cars; Nokia Lumia phones and Rado watches. This makes me see an India that is evolving and changing for the better. Some may ask  “Will this fast paced modern India cause the already gargantuan gap between rich and poor become an even greater?”  I say this may well be an eventual reality, but only time will tell, and at the speed India is going we may see this soon rather than later.

In response to those who would ask such a question, I leave you with a quote  that was imbedded in my memory as I saw it Inked across the front page of an Indian Newspaper. The words are paraphrased from India’s Congress party Vice president Rahul Gandhi,who I might add is tipped to be India’s future Obama!

Rahul: India’s future Obama?

“Rahul Gandhi Promises to take everyone along”.

As to whether taking every Indian citizen along for the rocket ride into the modern India at such great speed is a good or bad thing I shall leave up to!

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