Made by the British

IMG_0181This is said with a unique mix of admiration and distaste. I have just come back from 3 weeks in southern India and nearly all the great buildings and infrastructure was introduced with “it was made by the British.”

Buildings, factories, trains, bridges, roads as well as agricultural methods. Many of these things are undergoing restoration, but many more are decaying from neglect. It’s as if the best ideas, the great build was done by the British and when they left, time stood still.

I am looking for the unique Indian voice, the greatness that I know India can be within the cities and towns but what I see is decaying grandeur and shoddy workmanship. They say it is a result of the corruption and I believe them as nothing is what it appears to be.

This is a relatively young country having achieved independence in 1947 but other developing countries like Vietnam (and to some extent the new China) are racing ahead building enviable cities, infrastructure and economies. India with its vast diversity, layers of political structures needs strong leadership and yet the distrust of the system is everywhere.

Not all is lost. Education is highly valued, the workforce is huge, English, international language of business, is spoken nearly everywhere and the people are gracious and welcoming. India is a huge country, accessible (by air, road, sea and telco) and contains lots of natural resources.

But without a unifying will to be great, it will remain a land that thinks small and whose chaos drives strong partners away out of frustration. I have no answers, only hope that the new generation, many of them abroad, will bring the best ideas back to their mother country and make India the great country it should be.

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