Source : Google photo of modern India
Synopsis : There are strong indications based on the economic growth rate of India that it is well on its way to be the next economic superpower on this planet. The astonishing growth in the industrial output, power generation using renewable sources like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and nuclear that is fueling this growth makes India very attractive to foreign investment. India’s mega effort to improve its infrastructure at a rapid rate makes the country move forward in leaps and bounds. Karolina explains all this in her two videos here.
- India- the future superpower is reclaiming
The next video of Karolina Goswami gives this assessment on India that it will become the next super economic power backed up by solid data on growth rate, foreign investment and fast growing middle class so watch these two videos to learn more about the next economic super power called India.
2. Will India become an economic superpower?
When I was growing up in India in the 1950s and 1960s , I remember very well the state of the economy of India at that time. India had just become independent in 1947 and was literally rising from the ashes the British left behind of once proud and the richest country in the world that India once was before the invaders took it all away.
India was still reeling from the loss of more than a million people slaughtered during the process of partition of India into three parts , two of which became Pakistan to cause trouble even today. The country had long been drained of its rich resources by the British and others before the British came so the first elected government of India after independence was left the task of rebuilding the shattered economy with very limited resources.
They set up what was then called the Planning commission ( defunct now) that set up a five year plan to develop the country just like in the Old Soviet style and laid the foundation for the development of heavy industries like steel mills and the hydroelectric power etc. There was a shortage of everything essential like steel, power and cement among other things so the government put them on a priority list.
Massive dams like Bhakra, Hirakund, Nagarjunsagar etc. were built to generate power and make irrigation water available for agriculture. The emphasis on science and technology was the reason of the growth of Bengaluru as the future IT capital of India.
The Bhilai , Rourkela , Jamshedpur and Durgapur steel mills were set up to meet the steel demand that skyrocketed because the government took most of the steel and cement to develop infrastructure and left little in the private sector so one had to a get a permit to get a few bags of cement to build a house.
I remember that in 1950, the Indian Rupee was made of silver and one US dollar brought you only 4 Rupees ( as compared to over 65 Rupees now) so a salary of 150 Rupees a month was considered decent starting salary for anyone with some education because it was enough to raise a family and pay the rent but not much else. Jobs were scarce but more and more people were going to school.
My tuition for the grade school up to high school was about 4 Rupees a month that increased later to 30 Rupees a month in college so it became more and more difficult to pay for all expenses by the parents who were earning a fixed salary but somehow they managed and we all got college education.
Things started to change in the 60s when we saw the railway electrification coming to our city and a huge gas pipeline that the Italians were building passing through as well. This was long before Indian economy grew to where it is today but we could see and feel that the country was gathering the speed to develop the infrastructure. Huge power transmission lines sprouted all over the country like magic and our city was hooked up to hydroelectric power now that the new dams generated making the smoke belching power plant obsolete that was shut down.
By the 70s India was well on its way to grow even faster as the computers were introduced in all offices, banks and the railways that made many people afraid that they may lose their jobs but they were retrained in computers so they learned fast that ushered in the age of fast railway , bus and flight reservations nationwide, made banking more transparent and fast and tax collection increased dramatically.
India has long moved on from those days and has now emerged as the fastest growing economy in the world but it has also brought its own problems like inflation that hurts poor people. Gone are the days when we could buy one kg. of mutton for only one Rupee or a liter of fresh milk for 50 cents. Now the kilo of mutton costs more than 250 Rupees and milk may be 20 Rupees a liter. The rents have gone up astronomically and the cost of a two room flat in a big city costs hundreds of thousands of Rupees.
Karolina speaks about all these things in her two videos above but I just wanted to write about my own experience as well. The foreign exchange dollars were very tightly controlled by the government so I was given only USD 7.50 to carry when I first left India in 1967 which was not enough to pay for anything so one had to be received at a foreign airport . Now I understand that there are no such limits as India has grown huge in its economy and its foreign dollar reserve is high so you can buy as much dollar as you need but not as much as you want. Still it is better now and people are enjoying a much higher quality of life than before.
There are brand new malls in most cities and towns and more are coming up fast everywhere. There are metros in all major cities now and roads and new super highways are being built at fantastic speed using modern machines and technology. New airports, new hospitals, schools, colleges and university have sprouted all over the country like mushrooms. There is a huge proliferation of technical colleges and medical colleges that educate millions.
But all these development come at a price. The government now has billions to spend on the infrastructure because the country is richer but now I see every one rushing to make more money and have no time to say hello. The social interaction has taken a backseat but long ago it was not so when people stopped by and asked how are you.
I suppose all countries that go through the pangs of birth and growth face somewhat similar situation so people have become more unsocial and more self centered in big cities. The small towns still manage to keep their old character to some extent but they too will lose it as they develop . It is just a matter of time when old people will die alone in their homes and the neighbors will ignore the stench like in some developed countries where they do not know their neighbors or do not care to know.
In the mad rush to develop India , it may lose its soul and just become glittering glass and concrete cities with modern everything but no humanity.
I still remember the old India where we made friends and played with, could watch Laurel Hardy and Chaplin movies together , go fishing in the river and enjoyed communal festivals like Holi and Durga Pooja together, visited each other and their parents gave us sweets as a treat. I remember the clutter free roads when there were few cars and trucks so we felt safe riding our bicycles. I remember riding in trains where the passengers offered us food and chatted but now it is all glitter and fast trains where people peer at their cell phones all the time or listen to Internet music through their headphones. People definitely have become more unfriendly and aloof not to mention arrogant because they are richer.
I like modern India as it is making life easier for many but I also miss old India but that is the price we all have to pay in the 21st century to become the economic superpower.
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