Searching for a brighter future for India

June 17, 2008

Sometimes journalists are accused of only writing about bad news, so I wanted to share with you a wonderful day I had last Friday travelling to Hyderabad.

For a change, even the journey was smooth. I went on a brand-new plane with one of India’s new airlines — not only was the service good, but it actually left exactly on time, and arrived early. A bit of a rarity in my recent experience of India’s congested airports and airspace.

And when I arrived, what an airport. The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, which was opened in March, is truly state-of-the-art, incredibly clean, very spacious and stylish. A public-private partnership, it would grace any country in the world, and clearly had been built with room for Hyderabad to expand. Again, a pleasant change from Delhi’s chaos, where the airport is several steps behind demand.The private sector won’t solve all of India’s problems, but here were a couple of examples of liberalisation at its best, of reforms which have unleashed the country’s vast economic potential.

Me with the Googlers in HyderabadMy destination was the new Google office and India headquarters, where I was giving a talk on my life as a foreign correspondent, and especially the last six years in South Asia. I also gave a similar talk to a smaller crowd at Indian School of Business, recently ranked at number 20 in the Financial Times list of the top business schools around the world.

The people I met at both places were enthusiastic, intelligent and dynamic. They asked plenty of thoughtful, probing questions about the media, and were generally fun to hang out with. The energy at Google was pretty contagious.

It’s the sort of day which made me genuinely optimistic about India’s potential. If there is a downside, though, it is that very little of this energy and dynamism seems to be going towards solving India’s continuing problems, of poverty and heathcare and education.

The young seem pretty cynical about politics, and probably have good reason to be. Not that many of them could break into politics even if they wanted to, without the right family or vote bank behind them.

Still, let’s just hope that India continues to harness the energy and dynamism of its young people. I guess quite a few of the Googlers will go on to do MBAs, and with a bit of luck a few will stay and use their expertise in India, rather than go abroad.


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First, Hyderabad is truly breaking its shackles and turning into a city to reckon with. If the city planners continue thinkign ahead, it will not be plagued with the problems that dog Bangalore, and other metros. ISB is a definite beacon, and so is Google. Oh how I miss Google. I recognize most faces in this pic, and it makes me nostalgic. India Shining is not just a gimmicky phrase. It will almost be a reality if the powers that be, focus on the right areas like povery alleviation, education, female empowerment, and ofcourse infrastructure. World, here we come.

Posted by Bennet Abraham | Report as abusive

While you are at it, Dear head honchos, also think about comprehensive health coverage, especially for impoverished, maybe social security cover someday for the aged and disabled, rural connectivity – electricity, internet, roads, and abolishment of child labour in the true sense. Ah, but such are dreams!

Posted by Bennet Abraham | Report as abusive

I am an American visiting Hyderabad for the purpose of investigating how foreign resources can provide genuine solutions for educating the poor. Real opportunities exist but the have to be sustainable to get any meaningful financial support. However, the existing laws have made it very difficult for foreigners to do anything in India. It seems the doors are closed on most or maybe even all viable options. The laws seem to be over complicated and detrimental to progress. Nelson Mandela is quoted saying “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” but the door must be open for us to help. This is a great country and Hyderabad is an amazing city, world class in fact. I am hopeful for the future but also hope the government will quickly assist the progress that can genuinely happen to educate the poor.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Dear Simon,
Would like to thank you for the praise and we will ensure that the infrastructure created will also be maintained to highest standards in terms of quality of service and ambience.

Chief Commercial Officer-RGIA

Posted by A.Viswanath | Report as abusive

Some cities which need better planning are bombay/banglore/calcutta/chennai
these are some of the most imp places in india but infrastructure sucks big tym. Only thing the politicians are worried ab is hw much money they can make.

Posted by Kunal | Report as abusive

Very interesting indeed,most of the visiting scribes say
in unison,that Health,Education&Welfare should be india’s
top prority now.

Posted by subash patel | Report as abusive

good views appreciate that ofcource H E W,should be INDIA’S
top priority now.

Posted by subash patel | Report as abusive

Yay! :) Yes, we are moving forward and am I glad or what. And Google holds fond fond memories. Like Ben said, I recognize a lot of those people in that pic and it feels so good!

I’d take up politics ANYDAY. Really. Just that my family’d probably disown me. Sigh.

Hey I forgot, thanks Simon for not showing elephants or snakes or Dharavi slums in your article.

Posted by Nandini Vishwanath | Report as abusive

Hyderabad is growing at a very fast pace. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Chandrababu Naidu and statemanship of present CM Rajshekhar Reddy, the city is growing in different areas steadily since the begining of the millenium. Although we do have mountain of problems in areas like transportation, civic infra structure and pollution but i am confident that if the leadership continues to show the desire for development then that day is not far when problems like above will be become a thing of the past.

Hyderabad is one of the city witnessing the Indian economy boom in different sectors of the economy. Kudos to the leadership, civil society, and to the young energetic and vibrant youth.

Let’s grab this moment of happening and improve the life’s of one and all.


Shafi Ansari

Posted by Shafi Ansari | Report as abusive

Dear Simon,
I Would like to thank you for the praise and we will ensure that in future also we will provide and maintain full customer satisfaction up to the level of sky.

Mahi Pal Sharma

Posted by Mahi Pal sharma | Report as abusive

Dear Simon,
I Would like to thank you for the praise and we will ensure that in future also we will provide and maintain full customer satisfaction up to the level of sky.

Mahi Pal Sharma

Posted by Mahi Pal sharma | Report as abusive

India needs to move forwards and sorts the problems.
If it is for progress then like Mr. Modi of Gujerate and China style tacticks to be used e.g. move the people in the better places with better livelihood and develop the place. But whatchout the crooks,the corrupt officers who are against progress.

Posted by A Dharamsi | Report as abusive