Foreigner’s Perspective on India

I met an European last week at a rather remote location in India.

He was in his early fifties and has worked in India for nearly four years.

He was quite open when it came to discussing about India and his own country, and we had some intellectually stimulating conversation for some 45 minutes during which he impressed me with his knowledge and perspective on India.

I was not amazed though when he told me that the India Story is likely to be derailed due to two major factors – Lack of Infrastructure and endemic Corruption. I am, like most of us around, very well aware of the shortcomings of the India Story. While I did not entirely agree with him that the Indian Economy will go down because of these two factors, there was credibility in what he said with good conviction, as he has been involved with India for some four years and was not simply a tourist.

Yes, we do have these two major problems. The current infrastructure is not adequate at all and is going to seriously impact our economic growth in the coming years. The building of necessary infrastructure has not kept pace with the desire of the government and the citizens, due to various reasons. Corruption scandals have damaged India’s credibility and image both within India and on the global scene. People in most places knew that India was corrupt, but probably they did not know that we are as bad as Indonesia / China or even worse. The shield that we enjoyed was the democracy that has been practised successfully in the country almost continuously for more than six decades, unlike in the other countries which have suffered dictatorship or a totalitarian regime. But that shield is now coming off. People are vexed with the drama being played out on the TV every day.

So, on the above perspective of the foreigner, I could not agree less on his point of view that our economy is likely to be impacted badly if we do not quickly fix the infrastructure issue and the corruption problem. Generally, Indians are good in pushing things under the carpet, or just ignoring the problems on hand and moving on with incredible confidence on the future, almost willing that things will improve by THEMSELVES !

But that does not seem to be the case now, with the continuous series of scandals pouring down the chute like nothing else that the country has seen so far. No one can now ignore the impact or the damage that has been caused. There is now absolute lack of confidence on the government and overall governance standards in both government and corporate institutions.

One has to just poll around in a network meeting to discover the above !

The above Foreigners’ perspective seems to be right and we cannot ignore that either. We have a long way to go up on the Transparency International index of corruption.

Enjoy the news on the TV !


Vijay Srinivasan
26th February 2011


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