TECH TALK: Building a Better India: The Bad

Let me start with the things that depressed me as I travelled around. I will then talk about some of the delights. The objective of the two sets of contrasting examples is to demonstrate that we can do things right and wrong. The choice is, as I shall explain later, in our hands.

To continue the thread I started yesterday, the most appalling part of travelling anywhere shortly after the monsoons are the road conditions. Take the road near Pune University around E-Square. A flyover is supposedly being built. Work has been frozen for a year. Deteours have been put in place. And the rains have taken car of washing away what little tar was left. Had this been a side road, it would have been one thing. But this is the road which takes one to and from the Mumbai Expressway! There is no escaping the tyranny of the road.

Exit the expressway at Panvel en route to Mumbai. And what follows is the same story. When I was returning to Mumbai on Saturday evening, it took 45 minutes to cover a stretch of 5 kms. Perhaps there had been some accident. Or it was just the cars and trucks navigating gingerly around the craters that made driving treacherous. We dont spend enough to get the road done right. And then we pay every day in countless person-hours lost and even perhaps a few human lives.

Talking of human lives lost, consider the Airport road in Bangalore. As a friend told me, that road is pretty much always jammed. I experienced that at noon. Supposedly we have plenty of time and so we can afford to waste time. But what about the Manipal Hospital that is there on that same road? What if an ambulance wants to get through in an emergency? The bumper-to-bumper traffic leaves no room for even a two-wheeler to edge across, leave alone an ambulance.

Consider the stink of the toilets in public places. My exhibit here is the toilet just after the Ghats off the expressway en route to Mumbai. Why do these toilets have to stink and make it an ordeal to go in there? Isnt anyone responsible?

A city like Pune suffers from power cuts for four or more hours daily. We are not talking here of a village in rural India. We are talking of a city with a population (about 4 million) of the size of New Zealand. Everyone without power for four hours everyday. And Pune is among our showcase cities after the four metros. What do we do? If you can afford it, get a generator. If you cannot, grin and sweat it out.

There are a myriad examples like these. The sad part of it is that all of these problems can and should have been solved. They are in our control. And yet, we choose to suffer in silence. Is this the New India we want to build and live in?

Tomorrow: and the Good

TECH TALK Building a Better India+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.