[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Following a Beggar in Sarojini Nagar Market (S N), One of Delhi's Busiest Bargain Bazaars
India is now more than just a the flavor of the season. Superstar columnist Thomas Friedman got the title of his latest bestseller The World is Flat from an Indian CEO - Nandan Nilekani of Infosys. Brangelina chose to shoot their latest film – A Mighty Heart - in Mumbai, the heart of the Indian filmdom.
Most of the AIDS drugs for the world’s poor are manufactured by Cipla, a pharmaceutical firm of India. The world no. 1 steel baron, Lakshmi Mittal, holds an Indian passport. The historic Boston hotel, Ritz-Carlton, is all set to be acquired by an Indian hospitality chain – the Taj Hotels.
Microsoft’s biggest development center facility outside the U.S. is built in an Indian city - Hyderabad. In 2006, Pepsico appointed its first female CEO - an Indian woman named Indra Nooyi. The jewels worn by top stars in the 2005 Hollywood flick Troy were designed by an Indian jewelry store in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Meanwhile, jobs in US continue to be Bengalurooed by the bustling call centers of India.
Still doubting India’s resurgence? Read on.
India has More Billionaires than China
The stock market boom and a red hot real estate market have raised the combined net worth of India’s 40 richest people by 60% in 2006, and helped produce nine more billionaires.
According to the latest Forbes rich list, India has as many as 36 billionaires, which is more than double the 15 China has. The collective net worth of India's 40 richest persons stands at an astounding 170 billion dollars. This is way ahead of the sum total of their Chinese counterpart – 38 billion dollar. The minimum net worth of India's richest is also considerably higher at 790 million dollars, as against 514 million dollars in China.
China is still ahead in superpower appeal but India’s is closing the gap.
Following a Beggar in S N - Busy Shoppers Walking Past the Wretched of the Earth
Figures Speak for Themselves
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has rated India as the second fastest growing major economy in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 8.9% at the end of the first quarter of 2006–2007. Indian economy happens to be the fourth largest as measured by purchasing power parity, with a gross domestic product of US $3.611 trillion.
Its potency was proved on November 15, 2006, when the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) benchmark Sensex breached a new high of 13,500 for the first time before closing at 13,469.37. Similarly, the National Stock Exchange's (NSE) S&P CNX Nifty jumped further by 10.40 points or 0.27 per cent to close at a new peak of 3,876.30 from the previous close of 3,865.90.
Following a Beggar in S N - Encountering Extreme Poverty is a Part of Daily Life
India’s Emerging Potential
Following a Beggar in S N - Don't Judge Harshly, It is Tough to Constantly Carry a Conscience
As the fourth-largest economy in the world, India is undoubtedly one of the most preferred destinations for foreign direct investments. Its economy has positioned itself as one of the front-runners of the rapidly growing Asia Pacific Region. The country has a large pool of skilled managerial and technical expertise. The size of the middle-class population at 300 million exceeds the population of both the US and the EU, and represents a powerful consumer market. The country is capturing the imagination.
A Young, Rich India
According to a gushing Forbes columnist, just about everyone in the sunny India looks young. In fact, more than a third of India’s population is under the age of 15, making it among the most youthful nations on the planet and certainly younger on average than China.
Amidst all this hoopla, wages are rising steadily, malls and multiplexes are mushrooming, airline travel is becoming affordable, and salaried youngsters are buying everything from iPods to Palmtops. India Today, the nation’s largest selling weekly, was excited enough to recently feature a cover story titled ‘Wired Generation’.
A Nation Drunk in Success
Following a Beggar in S N - The Party Spoiler
Indian newspapers no longer carry tiresome and repetitive reports on droughts, dying and poverty. Instead the pages are splashed with stories about cricket matches, Bollywood breakups and penthouse classifieds.
With the economy in boom, Indians are also turning hip. Sex dates are common among the Orkut members. Arranged marriages are evolving to love-cum-arranged marriages. Joint families go to malls for Sunday outings. Gradually, certain parts of the country are looking more and more like a slice of the first world. People no longer need to fly to west. America is being built, silicon chip by silicon chip, in India itself!
The Awakening of a Soul
As a countdown to India’s independence from the British, this is what Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister, said in 1947: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge...At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”