Sunday, June 06, 2004

On Friedman and India

It is about getting your fundamentals right: good governance, good education. India's problem is not too much globalization, but too little good governance.
-- Tom Friedman, Making India Shine
The New York Times, Thursday, May 20, 2004

The liberalization of the Indian economy has led to rapid economic growth. This means that a greater array of products and services are available for the daily necessities of life, which have improved the quality of life. India, like other developing countries, including China, is trying to catch up with the West and Japan.

Overall, this is a welcome change, but it's invariably also accompanied by an endless hedonistic search for luxury. This type of consumerism has such mass appeal that it has swept aside all traditional values like self-restraint, balance and fairness with blinding speed.

At times, India seems to even outdo the West. The New York Times rarely has pictures of actresses and models on its front page, whereas the online version of India's leading daily, The Times of India, features them every day!

It is not surprising in such an atmosphere that the voices of reason are few and far between.

Everyone worships at the altar of Lakshmi, the Goddess of money!

Politicians have their eyes on money, for themselves and for their political parties. In their grab for power and money, they need the help of bureaucrats. The general public also needs help from those bureaucrats in everything they do. In poor countries like India and China especially, there can be only one outcome to this -- corruption.

Even a new generation with "good education" such as the one mentioned by Tom Friedman cannot by itself bring about the needed change from this malaise.

Can India, with its ancient heritage and modern scientific and industrial potential, find new approaches to deal with such an eroding, negative force?

Are there any Indians, in particular, who have any new solutions? We would like to know.


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