Thursday, May 17, 2007

Introduction of River Valley to Silicon Valley

India is an enigma wrapped in several layers. It opens as much as one tries to get into its depth.
India is known to the world since the time of the Greek Historian Herodotus who believed that gold-digging ants existed in India. India since then has always been a blend of fact and fantasy for the outside world. Megasthenes, the Greek envoy to the court of the great Indian emperor Chandragupta Maurya (320-297 BC) wrote a firsthand account of India in which he painted an idyllic picture of life in India. In the medieval times Arab travellers Al Beruni and Ibn Batuta wrote the greatest accounts of India. Despite these accounts by great travellers and scholars the myth and legend of India continued in absence of concrete information about this vast and diverse land.
The mysterious veil that covered India was lifted with the opening of the sea route to India from Europe and the arrival of the traders. These traders encountered a civilization with such a great diversity that they found it difficult to grasp the essence of India. The legend of India’s enormous wealth that had brought them here was real but they found a society ridden with great complexities of multiple castes, religions and languages and formed their own assumptions and prejudices over a course of time about India.

Since the time of the ancient Greeks to modern day, a variety of assumptions and prejudices about India have persisted in the mind of the outsiders. This is strange that the same assumptions and prejudices have lasted over two millennia.

‘River Valley to Silicon Valley’ is an endeavour to go into the depth of the enigma that is India through a story spanning over three generations of an Indian family. India over this time span has transformed itself from a slow growing backward British colony into a successful and modern secular democracy. Today India is a dynamic economy with one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world. It has emerged as a global economic power as the world’s third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. The economic transformation of India has been miraculous in the last few decades. The percentage share of agriculture in the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country has slid below twenty percent while the percentage share of services amounts to more than fifty percent of its GDP.

India is now the focus of the global media attention. Its contributions especially in the Information Technology (IT) sector accompanied with its fast economic growth rate have brought India to the centre stage of global media attention. India’s fast rise in the IT sector has been noted by the world to such an extent that there is a threat of extreme stereotyping an Indian as a computer whiz kid or a software engineer. India’s world renowned success in the IT sector has infused positive energies in Indians and now this success story is being repeated in other areas including some more noteworthy ones like pharmaceutical, steel, space, and automobile industries.

Outsiders often think these changes to be superficial as millions of Indians still live below the poverty line; almost half of its children grow up malnourished and tensions persist in many forms and shapes in the society throughout the length and breadth of the country with a constant fear of rise of insurgency, outbreak of a riot etc. But India has undergone through some real and irreversible changes on the path of becoming a modern secular democracy with a fast growing dynamic economy.

‘River Valley to Silicon Valley’ is an account of such gradual and persistent changes that India has undergone in the past few decades. The greatness and beauty of India is in its diversity where grandpa in the River valley and grandson in the Silicon Valley coexist side by side. One at ease with grazing cows and growing vegetables in the green fields by the river and with his ‘river-valley civilization life style’ in the ‘agricultural age’ as he has been there since centuries, since the very beginning of mankind’s arrival while the other at ease with a new era of ‘information age’ where space and time hardly matter, jobs are available across the globe and business is conducted 24X7 online.

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