I just spent a week in India doing local briefings and meeting clients in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. This is my third time in India between 2006 and today, and once again India has revealed itself as a country of incredible contrasts.
New developments driven by the impending Commonwealth games are side by side with terrible slums, great hotels with excellent service levels are surrounded by thousands of small and rusty cars and myriads of people who do not seem to care much about their and other people’s lives, first class restaurants with delicious foods are at a few yards from malnourished people who sit on the sidewalk, eating a bite of rice.
I always feel awkward about discussing issues like e-government, web sites, cloud computing, IT strategies and outsourcing leadership when bringing Indian cities like Mumbai or Delhi to western standards in terms of livability, safety, reliability of basic infrastructures would take immense resources.
In Bangalore I spent the night in what I believe is the most amazing, hi-tech, eco-friendly hotel ever, but in Mumbai I had one of my least pleasant travel experiences by trying to have a walk outside the hotel and being overwhelmed by heat, smell, beggars, noise, cars that would not care running over me.
I wonder what IT can do to give hundreds of millions of people a decent public house, clean running water, enough food, decent roads, a safe workplace (almost all government building I visited in my various trips would be in breach of dozens of health and safety regulations and would be easier to demolish than fix).
Yet, I have a deep admiration for all those, in government and industry, who work to create wealth, to fix one little problem at a time, in spite of the mind-blowing size of issues and the decades that will be needed for most of India to attain standards of life that the western world enjoyed several years ago.