India, Then and Now, a Tourist Paradise and an Intellectual Pool

A colleague-cum-friend (Australian) of mine is travelling for holidays in India for next 3 months, so he came back happily to share about his approval and how long the Q to Indian Embassy in London, UK was, etc! I had a Brit friend next to me who had a pun unintended query “Why do you need VISA to go to India”  😉
I smilingly asked which countries you can travel without having a VISA, he said of course any in Europe, I said, ohh you see India is not in Europe and there is no free entry to Brit or any other nationalities to India as was possible during Imperial times 😉

Though I am not sure what he meant with that pun, but this brought back one famous discussion we used to have, when I was doing my bachelors during 1990’s and my senior used to say “There will be a day when foreigners will stand in Q to get VISA for India” the way we do now to go abroad to work there. I was not very positive then thinking it may take at least 25 years to reach to that stage. But hey, I was wrong, it only took 15 years (from 19991 onwards) to really see things happening in favour of India. There has been number of reports discussing of reverse brain drain and Indian returning back to grab the huge opportunity, so I won’t go into that discussion now.

Today India facilitated a five-year tourism visa with a provision for multiple entries for tourists. How prepared is India for Tourism? I think more infrastructures is needed to make India world’s hot spot in tourism, many part of India is still unexplored, planning commission (both state and national govt.) should utilise the tourism Industry to convert the rural India to natural tourism. This is a beginning and there are many spots in India still remain hidden and unexplored. The mindset of Tourism department/ agencies must go global in accepting and really making effort to make tourist happy. I hear states like Kerala, Rajasthan are prime destination for Tourist!! What are other state doing??

I remember, as a child I would have hardly seen any foreigners in many state run small airport like Bhubaneswar or Vizag. People used to flock around if they see a foreigner. However, now many foreigners live in India & working with multi-national having global operations. Life has changed in totality in 10 years!!

So what about the Intellectual pool/capacity of India? Some strongly agree and some say it is cheap labour. I have heard both category and have argued with both categories. Here are my takes… as a child I was told the only way I can survive in this world is by speaking beautiful English and solving mathematics in lightening speed. Even today, this is true; competition starts from very early ages in India. Also as part of living style we believe “knowledge and prosperity” are the essence of life. IITians have pioneered these essence and they are the people who really took their knowledge to global landscape. Most Indians can talk more about history and geography than most Brits I have met. This is not a comparison but my analysis is to draw focus that gaining knowledge and learning more to survive are part of daily life for any professionals in India. Therefore there is a tradition towards acquiring knowledge. However the higher education mainly engineering in second rung colleges or state colleges has been the most disappointing fact. The course curriculum has always been old dated, with no scope to do practical and in the process more graduates are coming with plenty of theory knowledge than applications. I see an opportunity for organizations to align with educational institutions and guide them to produce skilled graduates. Therefore there is a concern that India is not able to supply the amount of skilled people an organization needs for an exclusive R&D operation in India. But given chances and proper grooming, I bet they will produce best of the best.

To those categories who say India is only cheap so let’s go there, my take: – Labour is cheap but with that you get to be in a country which gives you huge market opportunities when the PPP of average Indian goes higher. So don’t go for cheap labour only but go for a strategic future. And also work smart to retain key intellectual resource because they are there too apart from cheap labour.