Dec 152009
 

I completed a trip couple of days back, to the Philippines. And was expecting a less developed nation as compared to India. Now, I do not know the condition of all the interior places of the mainland or all the islands, but I was surprised to see Manila to be as developed as some of our best cities. And I would rate it above our very own Mumbai. There seems to be an air of proper planning in the development that has been carried out in manila.

Before I left for Manila, I had a perception that I would be entering a very congested city with as much filth as Mumbai. It was the opposite. The roads seem to be properly planned, taking into consideration all the directions. The drivers there follow the rules strictly. A very interesting culture followed by taxi drivers is to paint their contact details in bold letters on the back, to rate their driving skills via SMS. And due to all this planning and implementation in place, it took me to reach from point A to point B in less than half the time as compared to Mumbai. Even while walking on the streets, I was amused to find that drivers give preference to the pedestrians on the road. Many times it happened so that I was waiting for the car to cross me so that I could cross the road. But the car driver slows down, stops bit further from me and we are in a deadlock of a non verbal “you first please”. And this deadlock would break with me moving first. And this is not for me alone, a foreigner in their land, but for all their countrymen too. Why can’t our city drivers be like this?

I saw lots of construction activity being going on, with an equal number of demolitions. But, never did the debris, particles or powder, go out of the boundary of the the demolished building. And the development activity doesn’t seem to hamper the normal daily activities of the people in the area. And I remembered the Metro rail project undertaken in Mumbai, or all the sky walks throughout our city. And I wonder, Where is our planning?

Last year, during sailing, I had Philippine crew working with me. So I was aware of the rate of their currency. It was around 55 Peso per US dollar, where as ours was rs. 48 per US dollar. At this moment theirs is 46 peso per dollar, where as India is still languishing at their previous years rate. So the peso has increased in strength by leaps. So I ask, what is holding us back?

Aren’t we supposed to the one of the faster developing nations of the world. So why is it that, all that was supposed to happen in our cities, seems to happen everywhere else except in India? Of course, infrastructure is not the only gauge of progress, and poverty eradication, education, food, clothing and shelter is of highest importance.

But all the steps taken by the concerned authorities, do not seem to reflect for the common people.

When I landed back at the Mumbai airport, I was greeted with not only long delays in landing and parking of the plane, but also and hour in line for the immigration clearance. And that was the most tiresome part of my travel.

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  10 Responses to “What’s Holding Us Back?”

  1. I too often wonder the same thing. I mean, look at Bangkok too. I had a very bad idea of the country, & the fact that it gets almost ALL it’s revenue through tourism (sex tourism, to be specific.)
    But the infrastructure is so… enviable!
    I guess all we can do is sigh & just be happy with the country we’re in! Atleast that’s what I do!

  2. Yes, I have been through bangkok twice. I really envy their roads and their suvarnabhumi airport with its very long concourses.
    In India, even a permit for a new airport is cancelled many times, before it crosses the bureaucratic hurdles, and then, the money is siphoned out by our leaders. And this is not the case only with airport projects. Its the case with all infrastructure projects, and for that matter, all projects undertaken by the government.

  3. the point u made abt our indian cities – esp — mumbai being so congested and abt all the filth and also even abt the lack of planning,, all of it the major portion of the blame for it boils down to the fact abt our population,, and population density .. if u compare the popltn density in our urban centres it is one of the highest in the wrld ,, save for some exceptions(tokyo for one),, the metros are now woefully short of infrastructure and the cities are bursting at the seams trying to cope wit the ever increasing influx,,from the rural areas to urban centres ( the future may be in looking at building good quality plannd cities –n like say lavasa is one project — chandigarh is a quite well planned city — navi mumbai is comparatively well planned and laid out.
    the lack of planning can also be attributd to lack of foresight and discipline

    its reportd that in anthr 20 years or so ,, even the chinese population will stabilise and then go into decline (and india will be ovrtaking china as the most populous nation), coz they are strictly following the one child policy

    but india has a long way to go until the population stabilises,, the target shud be to get the birth rate below 2 or 2.1 so that then for every 2 people , 2 children are born and this way the population can stabilise in a span of one generation
    but nevertheless looking at the glass and seeing it as half full there are a lot lot many things that we have to be grateful abt and i wud gladly and proudly say that i am proud to be born in this country .
    i know coz this is my experience from travelling arnd the world and except for south america ,, and some major parts of africa ,, i have visitd quite a few places all ovr the globe during my 13 yrs of sailing

  4. Hi Nilesh, just wanted to bring something to your attention. You’re following my blog through Google Friend Connect, & the link there is still the one of your wordpress hosted blog. So please change it! 🙂

  5. Kudos to you man!! Not only do you share your experiences well but also somehow manage to take a learning out of each!

  6. This is a top notch post. I’ve been Googling for information about the subject and this page came up.

  7. Ya Philippines is also a developing country.
    Many of the people work abroad there.
    Like us they also speak English hence many people works in call centres and many you will find in Merchant Navy too.

  8. Hi Nilesh,

    I just came across your post thru Indivine. You are correct in every way about where are we lacking. What is holding back – So I guess WE are holding back and its time for us to wake up. I see many people coming from abroad(including me) and praising, singing songs of so and so country’s infrastructure planning (please don’t take it as offense, m generally speaking) but how many follow a single thing they liked in other country. I too liked the rule of “Pedestrian First”, and I was mesmerized when I first saw in California but did I follow here, No ! and did you ?? So what is holding us back – WE are holding back. In States, there is simple policy – Do it yourself. Therefore everything is maintained. But here, we have maids, helpers to do everything and anything for us and still you can see the difference. So its time for us to move our butt else we will soon become still developing country.

    Richa

    • Wha you have said is quite true. Often we have debate on what’s going wrong with India, and a colleague of mine keeps on reminding me that everything is fine in India, except for us. Government is not something detached from common people, and we should take initiative to improve it. Agreed. But I could cite many examples where we ourselves are helpless and have to take wrong course to do things, and end up adding to he miseries of the system. I wouldn’t say that any of the situations are isolated, or I am whining just because it happened to me or someone close to me. Because, similar situations occur with every common man.

      Lets take a hypothetical example, which is actually never hypothetical. I had applied for a passport, and that too tatkal, since I have to leave this country for job in about two months. My papers are sent to my local police station for enquiry. I am called there, and the person incharge by some way conveys that I have to wet his palms first. Now, I being of gandhian ideologies, do not comply, assuming that he passport verification will have to be sent by them in the end. But its not sent. That I come to know some days later from the passport authority website, which itself is quite delayed in displaying information. So I finally go back to the police station and find out that they were holding all the verification files(thats what I am informed) to dispatch all together. But mine can be sent earlier, if certain conditions are met. Not I know what the “certain condition” was so either I relent, or take up the matter with senior authority. But I do not know how deep the connections of this particular police station are. So I give up…And I get the passport just on time for my visa application.

      I would always like to secure a municipal corporation engineer, thus I would be the one who takes initiative to clean up all the wrong doings of that department. But then I remember how many smart engineers are murdered till date because they did not yield to the underworld pressure.

      Lots of illegal construction activity in India!! Suppose I occupy a flat in one building which has all the proper clearances. Suddenly, the government wakes up and declares that the building in which I stay is built on forest land and is illegal and must be demolished. So do I take initiative and vacate the place, so that it can be demolished, or do I protest against the order? Which action is good for the country(remember, me as a citizen of India, do form a part of the country) Forget about catching the builder or the passing authority. They always go scott free. But I lose.

      Its very easy to just say the right things, but implementing is difficult. If we start tracing all the rotten fruits to the root of the tree, we would find that politicians are a the base of his inverted pyramid. So not when I go for voting, I try to vote someone whom I trust to be truthful to this country. Problem is, I don’t find any deserving candidate. Don’t say that I should stand for elections. Many honest people have tried it, and I have voted them. But they just don’t win in this country.

      The progress of this country is going skin deep. Superficial!! We have bandra-worli sealink. We have the golden quadrilateral project. We have Lots of industries coming up. We have lots of promised development. But it had not added value to the life of the people from the interior. A report in news papers today proclaimed that 1/3rd of the country’s income is shared by just 1,20,000 people. This in the state with a population of more than 1 billion!!

      Things will happen, if the person appointed to make it happen, tries to make it happpen. You and me can just bring say orders, not build anything, because in the end we run out of steam, protesting and also maintaining our families. Let me site here an example another colleague cited.

      When in school, we had class monitors. He/she was appointed for he sole purpose of bringing order in to he class. But students speak, chitchat and do all sorts of things, not allowed in school. So its his responsibility to find out the culprits and report to teachers. Now, he cannot say that I didn’t check out who it was because I feel its their duty to behave themselves. No!! He has been given a specific duty, which he has to carry out to bring about order. Students will always try to make mischief, its their fault true. But to stop reccurance it has to be reported.
      When you cite california, remember that the police force strives hard to implement order. Thats why its well ahead of us. Its their job that hey have to do. People even say that in singapore, where spitting is banned, a normal tobacco chewer from india, doesn’t dare spit. Its partly his mistake that he spits in India, because he has no sense of self responsibility. But in singapore, its not the sense of self responsibility. Its the fear of being proscecuted!!

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