Thursday, March 15, 2007

Land of Contradictions

BusinessWeek's recent cover story lists horror stories resulting from India's poor infrastructure even as the country continues to be the leading destination for offshored IT and IT-enabled services (accounting for a 58% market-share as per NASSCOM's recent 2007 strategic review). As can be expected, this story has generated a fair amount of discussion on Indian blogs such as this one.

Another story, splashed across the headlines of most business newspapers in India today, is the possibility of a joint-venture between Reliance Industries (one of India's largest companies) and Dow Chemicals of the US, which has the potential of making Reliance the second-largest chemical company in the world. This, coupled with the recent Tata-Corus and Vodafone-Bharti deals, is generating considerable excitement as Indian industry finally begins to show up on a global stage outside of IT.

All this is happening as I read Edward Luce's In Spite of the Gods, an interesting perspective on contemporary India. Like I am prone to doing, I am also in the middle of another book, this one on China: James Kynge's China Shakes the World. Both Luce and Kynge reported for Financial Times, and both of them have lived long periods in the countries they write about.

As even more people try to understand and decipher India, here are two interesting quotes on India by Mark Twain:

Its stupendous population consists of farm laborers. India is one vast farm - one almost interminable stretch of fields of mud fences between. Think of the above facts: and consider what an incredible aggregate of poverty they place before you.

-Following the Equator, 1897 and quoted by Luce in the chapter titled India's schizophrenic economy

So as far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.

- Quoted in today's Economic Times where they headline the possible Reliance JV with Dow


Sank said...

Hi Shantanu-
I've always been fascinated with India, have you read the Luce book? Is it worth getting? Seems that the reviews were a little controversial.

Shantanu said...

Hi Sank, I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I find it a good read so far. Another perspective.