As I checked into a 4-star hotel during my recent Europe trip, I noticed there was no drinking water in the room. I enquired at the reception and was told that the empty refrigerator was meant for me to keep my items. If I needed drinking water, I could use the tap water from the washroom 🤔 as the restaurant or the bar wasn’t yet open and hence I shouldn’t expect any supplies from room service at that hour.
In another hotel, I and my room-mate weren’t able to charge our mobiles as the adaptors were incompatible with the sockets. On requesting either an extension chord or compatible adaptors, the operator told us that extension chords couldn’t be provided for security reasons and the hotel had only one spare adaptor which could be provided against a security deposit 😟
On arrival at the Zurich airport from Prague, I tried logging into the airport wifi. It asked for my cell number for the OTP SMS. The SMS never arrived. Same with all my colleagues. Any intervention for troubleshooting would have been time consuming. So, we moved on.
As I arrived at the Paris airport from Zurich, I waited for about 30 minutes before luggage appeared at the conveyor belt. As I tried to log into the airport wifi to utilise my time, I couldn’t. Then I thought of charging my mobile but see what, not a single charging point was in working condition!
All the drivers and the guides, though quite courteous and punctual, were inflexible too. I noticed certain instances when they could have acted beyond the call of duty but didn’t. Remember Ratan Tata’s lament when Tata Motors took over JLR?
I can go on and on. My question is, how would have we reacted when faced with such irritants in India? Quite unsparing in our criticism, I know.
Netherlands has 2/3rd of it’s land below sea level. It is so short of land that expansion through reclamation is the order of the day. Also, water has to be continuously pumped out into the sea with high capacity pumping machines from whatever limited land the country has. Though adequate safeguards have been made, the country constantly fears flooding.
The above instances are just pointers. After my recent visit, I have other reasons to believe as well that Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindostan Hamara (India is the best).
European countries are so small that it made me wonder why they weren’t a single country in the first place; or a stable EU at least. How can such small nations be secure, self reliant and thriving in the long run? This made me salute our leaders (like Sardar Patel) who ensured amalgamation of all provinces into a single nation. They realised that anything short of single nationhood would be a disaster, as had been in history.
Demographics in Europe seems to be unfavourable in the long run. The working age population is declining. Immigrants are therefore being allowed (exceptions apart) but the ISIS problem has complicated even that.
The European economy isn’t growing fast enough. People aren’t able to grow their businesses. A simple example. I noticed shopkeepers across Europe irritated and short tempered. They expected that if a customer entered the shop, he/she MUST buy. Else, strange reactions ensued. And no, this wasn’t about bargaining. I noticed the trend in fixed price shops as well.
This is not to say that all is bad in Europe. The way the Swiss have developed their snow peaks (like Mt Titlis) is remarkable! But I understand that scenic beauty of India’s Kashmir and Rohtang Pass (Himachal Pradesh) is mind blowing; if only we developed these locations as tourist destinations matching the level the Swiss have done in Mt Titlis.
India is a resource-rich country with demographics in her favour. She is the fastest growing economy in the world. She has a stable government and sound democratic systems. Her armed forces are professional and adequately equipped to defend her borders. She has a large domestic, consumption-driven market economy. In short, India has the potential to be way ahead of what we consider as the developed world.
It is time each of our institutions asks itself what it would take to be the best in the world (benchmarking) and then strive towards that. What prevents India from having schools and universities that produce Nobel laureates? Why can’t Indian corporates innovate as so many West-headquartered organisations do? Why can’t our corporates turn into Indian multinationals? Why can’t we, as citizens, ensure that the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan succeeds? Why can’t each of India’s states plans tourist arrivals per annum equivalent to that of Netherlands?
I get a feeling that India is much closer than ever in history to realising her potential. Many might not realise this but India has it in her to be the golden bird again, and just in a matter of a few decades! How many decades it will take depends on how much fire we as citizens have in seeing us up there in the hierarchy of nations.