India Abroad

Every time an article about India appears in a foreign newspaper, particularly a negative article, there is a hue and cry about how those papers are biased, or blow up the issue or how we as Indians do not pay attention to these things.

The latest in the series of articles was the one about Gurgaon in the New York Times.

The article is not completely negative… they do mention good things about the city, and not so good things about the government in the city.

So why are the readers upset? It was something we always knew… and not just about Gurgaon. If we had such a perfect government, we didn’t need the Anna Hazares and Baba Ramdevs. We wouldn’t have ‘secret’ attempts by the government to stop protests. We wouldn’t have the CWG disaster, the 2G scam, the Radia scam and all such things.

The story about Gurgaon is quite an interesting one… but nothing new. It has been spoken about since the beginning of the BPO era in India.

Transport – public transport is sorely missing in Bangalore. The government has made efforts recently, with more buses and such (and the metro sort of looks like it could be completed in this century). But late night transport still remains elusive. Nobody in their right mind would ever consider taking a bus past 11 PM, particularly if you are a woman.

Companies do provide transport to their employees because it saves time and that time could be used to solve a query from the US. Considering a lot of them work weird hours, it makes more sense for the companies to provide the transport, regardless of the state of public transport.

The other reason is security. Despite private transport, there are have been various untoward incidents.

The one thing that we do not remember is that cab drivers are humans too. They are on the road for 12 hours or more each day, some of them pulling multiple shifts are various firms consecutively. The stress takes a toll… accidents happen. Many of the drivers come from smaller towns and face a huge culture shock in the city. Women are working alongside men, wearing clothes like men and spending like men. Sometimes this is beyond their comprehension, worsened by the portrayal of some women on television…

Which is why the companies spend more on security. And of course, expensive laptops given to each employee, fat pay cheques = trendy gadgets etc. Tempting for anyone, I suppose.

That is a problem faced by any government. How we deal with it is what makes the difference. Everything moves at a sluggish pace in India due to the red tape… it does take quite an effort to move a billion people towards something, particularly when we try to take everyone’s opinion into consideration.

Are we any worse off than any other government? May be not. But given the fact that we are one of the contenders for the next superpower, do we need to clean up and speed up our act?

Hell Yes!

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