Dear Non-Resident Indian,
The next time you are in Mumbai, take a drive down Senapati Bapat Marg (Tulsi Pipe Road). Two decades ago, it housed many of Mumbais mills. It was an area of poverty and squalour. Some of that still exists. But in the past decade, this area has begun a transformation which would have been unthinkable. A few chimneys still remind onlookers of its heritage.
Today, Phoenix Mills is better known as the home of Big Bazaar (a Wal-mart clone). The crowds on weekend evenings need to be seen to be believed. It is not just the Indian middle-class shopping there; the affordability theme in Big Bazaars prices has cut across income levels. In the vicinity, there is a Planet M (a music store), Barista (a Starbucks clone), McDonalds (with an Indianised menu), a bowling alley, two restaurants serving everything from North Indian to Mexican to Lebanese to Chinese cuisine. Coming up soon: a multiplex. In the same mills compound are plenty of offices and two tall residential towers.
A little walk down, there is Morarjee Mills, which is transmogrifying into Peninsula Corporate Part. The glass buildings have a shock-and-awe effect on visitors. The complex now houses the Mumbai headquarters for Orange, Airtel (Bhartis cellular band), J Walter Thompson (Indias leading ad agency), an insurance venture from the Kotak Mahindra group, along with ICICIs BPO business (ICICI One Source). Two more buildings are coming up, with parking for a thousand cars to be available in the basements. Go a little further down and there is Kamala Mills, now Kamala City. It is a huge sprawling complex, which has more big names.
The scene is being repeated across India Whitefield in Bangalore, Gurgaon in Delhi, and an equivalent in every other city. The New India is emerging even as the old India co-exists side-by-side. A Barista selling coffee for Rs 50 shares walls with an Udipi restaurant selling filter coffee for a tenth of the price. In fact, on the other extreme, Bangalore pubs would even lead some to re-evaluate the meaning of Western culture! One can argue about the impact and the merits, but urban India is globalising rapidly, and irreversibly.
Restaurants are sprouting up everywhere offerings all varieties of cuisine, as incomes rise. International-quality schools are coming up. Dozens of car models are available to choose from. Indian ads are getting acclaim worldwide. Television channels are aplenty and real cheap too (a hundred channels for less than Rs 300). Indian fashion is going global even as international brands are coming into India.
The New India is rising. The elephant is finally stirring. And the emergent effect is such that no government, no politicians can stymie this revolution. More than five decades after Independence, Indian entrepreneurs are showing the face of what India can do. It is for us the New Generation to help build the New India with our ideas and innovations, our energy and determination, so that the Next Generation can grow up in a Developed India.
Tomorrow: The Family