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.