Tuesday, April 5, 2011

INCREDIBLE INDIA http://www.dnaindia.com/india/analysis_reality-does-not-match-incredible-india-ads_1520050

INCREDIBLE INDIA http://www.dnaindia.com/india/analysis_reality-does-not-match-incredible-india-ads_1520050: "


Nowadays, in every hotel, every railways station, every government office, you can find posters selling « Incredible India ».

I have been a defender of India for many many years, but the Incredible India campaign does not always match the reality on the ground.

Take visas, for instance. Because India’s intelligence agencies did not do their work properly and Headley was able to move around freely around the country, preparing the 26/11 terror attacks, visa rules have been tightened to such an extent that it has become ridiculous. Recently I asked for a visa for my assistant, a French lady, who likes India, and wants to work in India. She would help in the making of La Revue de l’Inde, the only magazine solely devoted to India in the French speaking world, and which props-up India as the natural, liberal and democratic alternative to China… The Indian embassy in Paris offered her a 3 months visa! Visa rules in India are nehruvian and outdated. The Chinese have understood that one needs to open one’s doors if one wants investments. Incredible India!

Take railways. 20 years ago one had to wait for a long time to get a confirmed berth on the Ranikhet Express which connects to two of the most popular hill stations in northern India: Nainital & Ranikhet. Any change? When we booked our tickets, we were waitlisted 12 & 13. A month later, we were still 12 & 13! Lalu Prasad & Mamta Banerjee might start new trains to please their constituencies, but they do not increase the existing capacities and as a result Indian railways have hardly progressed in 20 years, whereas again, the Chinese have clean, comfortable and fast trains. I say fast, because when we finally got confirmed berths on the Ranikhet express, the train was seven hours late and took 14 hours to cover the 378 kms that separate Delhi from Kathgodam, which makes for an average speed of 19 kms an hour. Incredible India !

Good journalism should always balance criticism with positive outputs so that one’s readers should not feel that the world is bleak and hopeless. Let me say then, that India has shown again that when in extreme distress, it can raise its head and correct its headings. The judiciary and the press are fighting the incredible corruption cancer that has taken over Indian politics and some accountability is being primed at the moment.

In Jaipur again, I stumbled in a stadium with over 100.0000 people, many of them youngsters, singing, dancing, breathing, and meditating with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the occasion of Shivaratri. That was amazing: Incredible India.


Editor in Chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l’Inde and author of “A New History of India” (Har Anand, New Delhi)