Sonntag, 13. März 2011

A modern country

Sometimes, if one only admits the thougt, a visit to India can seem like a journey in time. Life in and around the temples, on the markets, in the villages - India shows attitudes towards life that Europe has long forgotten. Unlimited devotion to higher powers, reliance on manpower instead on machines, village councils. To us, all this is a foreign world, that of foreign cultures or that of our ancestors. But as present as these attitudes are in todays India, as unknown are they to large parts of the population. Modernity has come like an unstoppable wave embracing every part of society. Indian entrepreneurs have grown into global tycoons, companies have compounds so big that visitors are driven around in golf-carts, ads are painted on the walls of houses everywhere, palaces are illuminatd with countless chains of light bulbs, Rikshaws compete for space with the latest Mercedes, and village farmers get information about current cattle prices on their cell phones.

India, like so many other countries surprised by the wave of globalisation, is a country of contrasts. A day could start with a brunch at the most modern café and end with a visit to a centuries old temple. Inbetween one has stopped at a local market to buy some fruits, but not without having noticed the big plasma TV the vendor is using to watch cricket. Nevertheless, India is different. Poverty and wealth have found a way of seemingly unquestioned co-existense. Those who have, think about those who don´t. Countless organizations with social purposes fill gaps that government can´t reach. Slums, at least visibly, don´t exist. If they do, they are alive with economic activity. India has taken on the challenges of modernization, embracing international attitudes and protecting its local ones.

It is stunning to see the pace with which this country develops. And stunning to see how at the same time old rituals and customs are not forgotten. India is a modern country, but it has redefined modernity instead of merly adopting the ready-made solutions that globalisations has on offer. It will be exciting to see what India will offer to the world once its unparalleled pace of change has led it to the top of development.

Man painting a beer-commercial on a wall in Varkala
Illuminated Mysore palace in the evening