Friday, 28 September 2012

What is ailing India?

I have been involved in a project proposal for the corporation of Chennai city to refurbish the street-food carts in view of cleaning up the image of the city but as well as providing hygienic and affordable food for the labourers. The proposal hinged on having the administration sponsor part of the development of the carts in order to bring in a range of facilities, as well as a centralised kitchen system in order reduce the cost of meals.
Our model integrated concept of sustainable development in order to build a self-dependent eco-system that would allow the movement to grow based on the revenues generated by the community of cart owners. Unfortunately our proposal was rejected without even due consideration for its details, simply on the basis that our quote per cart was too high. Unfortunately, our Nehru-socialism heritage has bread a generation of bureaucrats and politicians that seek the lowest cost of development. We are a nation that have the cheapest roads, the cheapest trains, the cheapest public toilets, and this cheapest-is-best mentality is what is keeping us from stepping into the 21st century.
Comparing to China which started its economic growth around the same time as India, it has today achieved a 10 to 15 year advance due to a development policy that has accelerated its growth. In the past ten years it has built a network of super trains, super highways, super airports, super ports and gradually super cities.

What have we got to show for in the last ten years? We have two cities with operational metros, 1 city with a super sealink highway that is still only half built, and a few private airports that are world class.... but we still ride trains from the 20th century with 3rd class toilets and drive our cars on pot-holed roads, unfinished highways and derelict infrastructure. A cheap mindset only leads us to cheap quality.