Wednesday, August 15, 2007

60 years of political mess, 5 years of economic growth

Being in India on Independence Day after 10 full years (last time I was here at the same time was 1997), I was shocked to see the pride and enthusiasm in everyone around here. Initially, I thought this was all because of the 60 year mile-stone, but then 1997 marked the 50th year of independence, which, arguably is a bigger mile-stone than this one.

Then what possibly is the reason behind this rejuvenation across the board? This seeming patriotism feels just too good to be true. Something seems amiss...

And then it dawned on me, as soon as I opened the 60-page Times Of India, that this day felt eerily similar to a July 4th weekend in the US. Yes - its not patriotism, not nationalism and not a new-found pride. Its not the government and has nothing to do with our culture or history. It's the corporations. And its the media. The reason we are all excited is because (1) Today is "SALE" Day and (2) Because there are 24 different news channel, 4 different news papers, 16 different FM channels, 25 different super-markets and millions of bill board signs that flaunt the Tiranga and talk about Independence Day

How amazing is it, that just 5 years of sustained and solid economic growth makes people so excited. Reliance Mega Mart offered 60% off everything, Big Bazaar had 20-40% off and the news paper had almost 30 pages of ads (and 5 pages of news, of course!). With such amazing offers and a free holiday - celebrating Independence day has never been so exciting.

I believe now. Pride, culture, history, patriotism, national heroes - nothing matters more than commerce, profits, sales and discounts. Reliance, Adani, Infosys, Tata, Wipro and others - you are our true national heroes. We salute you.

Oh - By the way: The road just outside the Reliance Mega-mart is jammed for 2 kms and I see cars parked along the road all the way. Amazing shop, amazing merchandize. Disgusting infrastructure...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Are we social introverts?

Ever wonder why the most popular consumer gadgets in recent times are the cell-phone and the Ipod? One of them (the cellphone, i.e.) only works for social interactions. And the other one (Ipod) makes you completely unsocial. And the two together - complete us - mostly.

Is there really a need for anything else?