Ode to India

By: Sramana Mitra

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi could not have imagined connecting with his ardent disciple George Harrison on a cellular phone. He would have relied on telepathy or some other transcendental power to listen to "Jai Gurudeva ..." with Harrisson's guitar strumming along.

Times have changed.

A $2 Billion Indian mobile handset market is set to grow by over 60% in two years. Pretty dramatic. Nokia has 59% market share of the 60 Million user base. Cellular networks cover only 30% of the country, set to increase to 75% by 2006. Presumably 100% by the end of the decade?

Contrast this with just 10 years back. I had to wait 8 months to get a set of business phone lines installed for my new company. How delicious it must feel to all those who have known and suffered under the old system!

Development's strides are bold and broad. Satya Paul saris today cost as much as Armani jackets. A rapidly growing middle class breezes through the milestones that their fathers had to toil all their lives to reach. A phone. A watch. A TV. A car. A house.

Vivekananda had said, "Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached." 200 Million people are still living in abject poverty. That is 80% the size of the US population. How long will it take, before development's magic wand touches this segment, and lifts them out of despair?

Long. The journey ahead is still very long.

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