In two days I’ll be going to India, my last trip there was 6 years ago, and from what I hear, things have already dramatically changed since then.
What I’m mainly interested to see is how the rising middle class is affecting the country. Is it like the rise of the massive middle class in the U.S. in the 1950′s, or is it different?
While I’m there I’ll try to visit some of the massive call centers I hear so much about, perhaps make a few contacts. Some of the best engineering talent in the world is in India, so some interesting things must be happening there regarding entrepreneurship. This is a democratic country with tons of talent being used to develop tons of large scale projects, so it’s inevitable that Indian entrepreneurs will spring up all over the place. I’d like to meet some of these people.
Some questions I’ll ask myself while there:
-What brand of cars are becoming prevalent? Fiats dominated the road last time I visited.
-Last time I went, disposal waste per household was extremely low. I remember one guy with a small basket picking up the garbage for every household in an entire colony (equivalent to an apartment complex). Hardly anything was wasted. How has that changed with modern packaging techniques, fast food etc?
-How easy/hard is it to get an internet connection and power outlet for my laptop over there? Is it expensive?
-Cell phone usage?
-Adjusted price comparison of a Big Mac in the United States and India. Over there It’s actually called a Maharaja Mac and is made with lamb or chicken instead of Beef. McDonald’s got in some trouble for serving beef.
-Attitudes towards the United States?
I’m also highly interested to see if the level of corruption has gone down, as this is one of the more powerful issues I see holding India back.
The way of doing business there is entrenched in bribes and “Bonuses”, many which are now considered a normal part of doing business. The sad thing is the people who enforce the law are involved too, so people are forced to continue the system of bribes in order to get anything done.
For example: If you open a restaurant and need a liquor license, let’s just say unless you pay someone a very large “gratuity” for their work, your license won’t show up for the next 10 years.
This also happens on a smaller scale. For example: If you want to park your car in a no parking zone, an officer will ticket or tow your car unless you “encourage” the officer not to with a monetary incentive.
I also want to try some sort of money experiment while in India. With the sheer amount of poor people already trying to sell stuff, I don’t know if my bottled water experiment would fly over there, so I’ll have to look for something else!