India Insight

Gridlocked in the rush to grow

Newspapers have delighted in reporting a 100km traffic jam outside Beijing could last until mid-September. Road construction is the immediate cause for the gridlock, which stretches as far as Inner Mongolia, Chinese officials have said.

Vehicles move slowly during morning rush hour in Hyderabad October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Krishnendu HalderFor Indian commuters battling a near-daily gridlock in all the big cities, this is an ominous sign of things to come.

India is adding vehicles at an unprecedented pace, with July clocking the highest car sales on record.

China has already overtaken the United States as the biggest auto market, and Indians are splashing out on cars across segments, from the humble Nano to the uber luxury Jaguar sedan.

But India, despite its stated goal of spending some $500 billion in the five years to March 2012 and double that sum over the next five-year period, has failed to build roads to keep up.

Filling the gap one brick, one hospital bed at a time

Two stories this week stand out as examples of how entrepreneurs in India are doing what the government and the private sector have largely failed to do.

A woman carrying a child walks past a construction site on the outskirts of Hyderabad February 26, 2010. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/FilesOne is on housing, the other on healthcare, hot-button topics in India, which is struggling to house and heal its 1.1 billion population even as it gallops toward double-digit growth.

Various state governments and real estate firms have made lofty promises of “affordable housing”, but few have delivered.

Should NRIs get voting rights?

USA-INDIA/Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seems to have set the ball rolling for granting voting rights to Non Resident Indians.

“I recognise the legitimate desire of Indians living abroad to exercise their franchise and to have a say in who governs India,” Singh said at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet in New Delhi.

According to reports, the law ministry is working on amending the Representation of the People Act to include those living overseas as citizens.

Attacks on Indians in Australia: racist or recessionist?

A spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney has seen the Indian media accuse Australia of being a racist nation.

Newspaper articles warning of a culture of “curry bashings” in Australia have sparked off debate and people around the world have spoken out against the attacks in online forums.

Some insist the majority of attacks may have been purely criminal.

As an Indian studying in the U.S. for the past three years, I am yet to come across any instance of Indians being targeted on the basis of their race.

Barack Obama — it seems he’s India’s choice too

It’s not hard to see why Indians would be interested in an election thousands of miles away. Many see Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential poll as a sign that America has finally transcended the question of race and changed the course of history.

Obama may have won by a landslide in the U.S. but going by the number of Indians rooting for him at New Delhi’s American Center on Wednesday, it seemed a useless exercise to gauge his support base in India.

I was hard-pressed to find a John McCain supporter among the many students and guests thronging the lawns of the Center as election results trickled in.