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Saturday, June 04, 2005

China Awes Nandan

(Via Newindpress) Nandan Nilekani laments about poor planning and slow execution that he sees in India and contrasts this with what he saw at Beijing. After watching 8-lane highways and digital maps of a 3000-year-old city, after bumping into an architect who says he will build seven Chinese cities in four years, Infosys CEO drives home to Bangalore past ghostly girders of incomplete flyovers - and hits Delete on yet another invitation to speak on infrastructure. It is difficult not to be awed when one lands in Beijing. One drives into the city on broad tree-lined roads with magnificent buildings on either side. Most of the roads have bicycle lanes, which are still well used. In spite of the huge crowds, there is no sense of disorderliness. There is a great sense of history, of a 3000-year-old city proud of its past and preparing for its assignment with the future. There are signs everywhere that Beijing is preparing for the 2008 Olympics. A new wing of the airport is expected to be ready before that. The budget talked about for the city's upgradation is over US $20 billion. The world's top architects have been drafted. It is as if the entire 14 million population of Beijing is working in unison, to ready itself for a debut on the global stage. President Hu says,“By 2020, we will quadruple China's GDP in 2000 to approximately US $4 trillion with a per capita level of some US $3000"... "We must focus on economic development as our central task"..."By the end of 2004, China had attracted a total of US$ 562.1 billion in FDI"..."Approved the establishment in China of more than 500,000 foreign-funded enterprises"... "Over 400 firms out of the FORTUNE 500 have invested in China..." "China will keep opening up its market, find new ways of using foreign capital"... "Work still harder to help foreign investors" ... the printed version shows no trace of ideological cant or outdated shibboleths, just a ruthless determination to leverage the world's money and markets to lift millions out of poverty.

Architect - Bill McDonough, says he is in china to build cities-seven of them-each capable of a population of 2 million. All based on a sustainable environmental model to be built in four years. Back in India, home, I pass the lonely girders of a half-built flyover, overdue by years. The landscape has the eerie air of an abandoned ghost town. So I close my eyes and console myself that we have built a mature, functioning democracy. Surely, building an eight-lane avenue with bicycle lanes shouldn't be more difficult? I hold more strong views everytime I compare chinese infrastructure with what is available/coming up in India. India- wake up - too late and too long a distance to cover - India needs to iprove with revolutionalry zeal and new benchmarks in planning, scale & edge in creating infratructure keep getting set. In my recent trip to China - a cabbie told me that a project that he showed as coing up will be finished in time - he said after all it is run by the government. Arun shourie once remarked that the Indian bureacracy is tuned to holding kumbhmelas where several million congregate at one place - its fine but what we need is world beating vision and executuion capabilities - built,demonstrated and deployed NOW.A dozen mega projects, larger outlays for city development and many times more FDI is the need of the hour - India should not miss the bus this time.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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