I just completed a 3 week trip to India in December 2008/January 2009, visiting cities in two states- Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Born and raised in the United States to Indian parents, I haven’t lived in India but have visited parts of India generally every 5-6 years. Trips to India where I was at an impressionable age were in 1984, 1990, 1993, 2002, and 2008. Significant change has occurred since my last visit 6 years ago and this note documents some of my observations and reflections about changes or general characteristics of modern day India in the cities I visited. To me, it was a fascinating trip—intellectually stimulating to think about how India will continue to adapt to the economic growth that has unfolded in the country over the last several years (often in urban areas) while simultaneously dealing with the needs of more rural areas and those that make their living off of the soil (2/3 of India), all within the context of the largest democracy in the world with a population consisting of many different religions, languages, and customs. And to add to the complexity, India now has to deal with a slowing economy after getting accustomed to the growth over the last several years.
This past trip I visited the following cities in Andhra Pradesh: Hyderabad (population 7 million), Guntur (population of ~ 800 thousand), Vijayvada (population of near 2 million). In Kerala, I visited Kochi (population of 600 thousand), Alleppey (population 200 thousand), and the state capital Trivandrum (population 800 thousand).
My previous trip to India in 2002, I visited Hyderabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Surat, and Navsari. In the nineties, I had visited New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mysore, and Ooty.
Some of these observations may seem naïve or obvious to those who live in India, or have lived in or visited India often in recent years, but again my lens is based primarily on the last visit of 6 years ago and the memories of the prior visits in the nineties and eighties. Observations are based on only my first hand accounts and not any extensive research that I’ve done so will be skewed based on the locations I visited.
My observations will be listed in the following categories in blog postings over the coming weeks, and is clearly focused on the middle/upper middle urban lifestyle. I did not have the opportunity to spend real significant time actually staying in villages and rural areas.
- IT Industry
Two pictures from this trip symbolize the dichotomy of India.
The first photo shows the neighborhood my inlaws live in Hyderabad (taken from their balcony of their 8th floor flat) — almost all of these hi-rise developments have been built over the last 5 years and are much more western that previous housing structures.
The second photo is an image I saw in Vijawada from the balcony of wife’s uncle and aunt’s flat in the city center. Clearly, with all of the growth in India, there are still infrastructure challenges.
Here are links to each of the individual India trip observation postings