Starting From Politics :
In fact, nationalism is one of the biggest growth industries in India, one that is guaranteed to stymie, if not wreck, genuine economic progress. In the last decade, the rise of Hindu nationalism has become a growing nightmare for India's Muslims and Christians. At the heart of this ideology is the belief that today's Muslims should be punished for historical wrongs perpetrated by medieval Muslim invaders and conquerors. The worst Hindu-Muslim rioting and looting happened in the western state of Gujarat in 2002, when Hindu mobs killed and maimed thousands of innocent Muslim civilians, including pregnant women and children, avenging another ghastly incident in which Muslim criminals roasted alive 58 Hindu pilgrims in a train. If unchecked, nationalism will also take its toll on the dangerous Kashmir dispute that bedevils relations between the nuclear-capable neighbors India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, engaged in another low-level conflict in 1998, and come to the brink of another in 2002, prevented mainly through diplomatic intervention by the U.S. The situation is exacerbated by politicians who polarize Hindus and Muslims before elections in order to garner Hindu or Muslim votes -- with Hindus constituting 82% of the population, Hindu nationalism clearly has a better chance of winning the electoral stakes. The battle for votes may be won through this diabolical strategy of dividing communities, but the opportunity for India to achieve her true destiny as a stable, prosperous giant in the 21st century will be lost.
Bill Clinton once said: "India remains a battleground for every single conflict the world has to win." Certainly India copes with massive problems -- mounting corruption, joblessness, judicial bottlenecks with few convictions and delays of up to 20 years for delivering justice, AIDS, acute water shortages, poverty, disease, environmental degradation, unbearable overcrowding in metropolitan cities, crises of governance, sectarian violence, and terrorism. India adds one Australia to itself every year -- 18 million people. The rural poor (who form the majority) see children as an economic resource, the only security net for old age, and high child-mortality rates necessitate the need for more than one or two. Apart from India's huge natural growth rate, an estimated one to two million poor Bangladeshis slip into India every year in search of work.
Besides all the problem it is really a miracle that India has not collapsed, but this is a country of remarkable stamina. The trouble is, India does not act until a crisis is full-blown. Indians are terrible at prevention, but terrific in crisis management. (Comparable example is of Bombay flood and Switizerland flood and katrina in US) As it looms closer -- like the imminent judicial collapse -- it is exasperating and frightening to see citizens and authorities insouciantly lurch towards the abyss. But once they reach the precipice, Indians are adept at pulling back quickly and effectively. They don't descend into chaos because they are adaptable and resilient. For if disparity is India's weakness, diversity and courage are her strengths. India has a strong network of grass-roots-level institutions, NGOs, and activists that form a kind of coral reef, erecting little barriers on which political and economic onslaughts falter, such as the recent attempts to build an industrial belt around the Taj Mahal that, once exposed in the media, were shelved. These onslaughts come from an array of "threats" -- from local politicians to multinational corporations. Nobody can ride roughshod over India. Nobody can fool Indians. Foreigners may be smooth-talking, willing to bribe, have fancy degrees, and speak English with a beautiful accent. But they can neither arm-twist nor hoodwink Indians. The shenanigans of Enron were exposed first in India. India stood firm amid the Enron-orchestrated swirl of accusations of being difficult, corrupt, untrustworthy. All of which is true. But it was equally true of Enron. Eventually, it was Enron that went bust.
When they cannot do it their way and according to their schedule, politicians rail against the bureaucrats, trade unionists, judges, journalists, and NGOs. But this defensive "coral reef" is what has saved India from sliding precipitously to economic ruin. The pace of Indian economic reforms was widely attacked as too slow by the IMF and World Bank. And yet Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 and a former chief economist for the World Bank, now admits that India's caution and slow, deliberate steps are precisely what saved the nation from the catastrophic meltdowns and flights of capital that befell Asian and Latin American countries.
India has always been a giant and will continue to be a giant. But she will move at her own pace. She is not an Asian tiger. She is more like a stately Indian elephant. No one can whip or crack her into a run. If you try, the stubborn elephant will dig in her heels and refuse to budge. No power on earth can then force her to move. The desire for change and movement must come from within. India will move, but she will be slow, ponderous, circuitous. Progress will come, but it will come in measured steps, not in leaps and bounds. There is no point arguing whether this is good or bad. It is good and bad. And it is many things in between.
After all, this is India. And we are Indians. :)