Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Impressions from India

India Gate
India Gate, Mumbai

Having just returned from a trip to India, visiting Mumbai and Kolkata, the good news to report is that India seems to be on the rise, with more and more people climbing out of abject poverty. There’s been a huge increase in the size of the middle class. Sure there are still very young mothers in the streets dodging traffic while holding very young children in their arms as they beg for food, but there seem to be fewer than 5 years ago when I was last there. The colors are still fabulous, from the infinite shades and patterns of the sarees down to the multiple sparkling, multihued bracelets on the vagabonds’ wrists as they ask for alms.

The animals are gone too. The holy cows, the monkeys, the goats, camels and horses that used to roam the streets are rare now. Only the dogs are still around, the others having been carted off to reserves outside of town.

The optimism is palpable. Mumbai seems less poor. The cars that clog the streets include more affluent Japanese and European brands than before. Indians, not just tourists, make up the clientele of the large, luxurious hotels. India’s booming economy is on the way to achieving its milestone of 9% GDP. The current economic growth rates are projected at around 7.5%-8% for the financial year 2011-2012. And India’s economy is the ninth largest in the world by nominal GDP.

Let’s celebrate India’s achievements. Before long the country’s economic growth is predicted by Goldman Sachs to make it the third largest economy in the world by 2035,  just after the US and China.