TIME on India

TIME Magazine has a series of stories on India. The Asian edition’s cover is entitled “India’s New Dawn.” An excerpt:

IBM’s commitment was a reminder that Indiaonce shunned for its hapless protectionism, suffocating bureaucracy and all-round commercial torporcan no longer be ignored. The country’s growth rate is now approaching that of Asia’s other economic juggernaut, China. And, as our special report in this issue shows, India is being remade, as it is increasingly integrated with the global economy. IBM is far from alone in its desire to tap the country’s youthful, technologically literate workforce. Multinational companies including Nokia and Hyundai Motor have moved in, at the same time as India’s domestic success storiesamong them outsourcing giant Infosys and the Tata group industrial conglomerateare shaking things up around the world. Cities such as Bombay are buzzing with rude health, while small-town India is changing so fast, former residents can scarcely recall the rice fields now buried beneath shopping malls. We’ve witnessed Asia’s economic tigers and dragons. Enter the elephant.

Yet India’s stock-market slide may be trying to tell us something: Elephant traps ahead. Prosperity and progress haven’t touched the 550,000 villages where two-thirds of India’s population live. In many ways, the country is growing in spite of itself. Millions of women are not getting the education they need. Transportation networks and electrical grids, which are crucial to industrial development and job creation, are so dilapidated it will take many years to modernize them. Businesses are less fettered than they were when liberalization began 15 years ago, but some parts of the economy remain subject to the old restrictions.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.