From Ros: I’m writing this on the patio outside our hotel in Hyderabad. From here I can see the pool, a very nicely kept lawn and a number of new build blocks of flats. It’s the first time since I arrived in India that I’ve felt I could be in any number of places.
Of course, there’s far more of the city that is very clearly Indian, but right where I am surrounded by businessmen and women speaking in accents from around the world, this seems a very generic experience.
Large office blocks with mirrored windows, adverts for international management firms, enormous homes worthy of LA.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with any of this. We’ve got at least 50 people coming along to CyberTowers tonight – I’m very curious to ask everyone if this kind of investment (much of it from abroad) is driving the kind of transformation they want to see in India.
Anu and I had very little to say on last night’s show because the audience took up the discussion so passionately.
But if we do have a chance to ask something, what would it be Anu?
From Anu: Judging from last night, I’m not sure we’ll need to ask any questions, they’re coming in so thick and fast. Just now, when we stopped by Cyber Towers, three more people came by asking if they could join us tonight, so the excitement’s building already!
I was last in Hyderabad, or ‘Cyberabad’ as the high-tech part of the city is called, in 2004. There was nothing but empty land around Cyber Towers. The few swanky glass buildings were surrounded by a sea of blue plastic tents and tin shacks housing the bone-thin labourers who hauled dry cement, bricks and glass into the construction sites.
I guess you could argue even that’s progress, given the lack of opportunities for the poor. And many people here I’ve spoken to say exactly that.
I guess I’d like to know what call centre workers here would say to those of us in the west who complain about them?
I’d also like to know from women in the crowd how this new corporate culture has changed their lives. In all my extended Indian family, none of the women ever held a job (except my mother for a short time in New York). I love my job, but sometimes feel torn about how to manage everything.
In one generation, Indian women have gone from a culture centred around home and family, to a jet-fuelled, round-the-clock timetable. Is that liberating? Do they ever wish they could turn the clock back?