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BW Businessworld

The State Of The Nation

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Independence day celebrations offer a good opportunity to take stock of where we as a nation have reached, the goals we have achieved, the opportunities we have missed, and finally the tasks that lie ahead.

As is usual with such exercises, the conclusions you reach at the end of the stock taking will have much to do with your own outlook to life. It will depend on whether you are tuned to seeing the glass as being half empty, or half full.

For example, if we take stock of the state of the business and economy in this sixth decade of independent India's life, the optimist will have lots to cheer about. Despite the call drops and the shortage of spectrum, we have done wonders with our telecom system. Our cellphone costs are among the cheapest in the world. The basic cellphone is today sported by maids, drivers, electricians and even rickshaw pullers. And the whole mobile revolution has given rise to a new breed of entrepreneurs.

You could find many things to celebrate in dozens of other sectors. We have access to consumer durables and electronics that compare with the best in the world — and at affordable prices. People who can afford cars are able to buy modern cars that can be found on the streets of Europe and the US as well. Our IT services and ITES sectors, despite the recent slowdown, are hugely successful and are growing to be global powerhouses.

The pessimist, on the other hand, can counter every one of these examples with horror stories in dozens of other sectors. Our power situation is a mess, our roads are potholed, our flights are routinely delayed, the new airport in Delhi leaks if the showers are really heavy, we have failed to provide proper education to most of our population even so many years after Independence — the list can go on.

In this special issue on the state of the nation, we have used the businessman's filter to take stock. We look at what are the basic freedoms that businessmen can take for granted in developed countries — and how we fare on them.

You will find that while there are lots of things that need fixing — and fixing immediately, the news is not all that bad.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 24-08-2009)

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