Thursday, January 31, 2008

REFLECTIONS OF INDIA - FROM ANCIENT TO FUTURE
January 31, 2007 - somewhere in northern Madya Pradesh

ANCIENT & FUTURE. On the one hand, India seems incredibly ancient. One gets the sense that life in the villages has not changed much in thousands of years. On the other hand, India seems to leap-frogging into the 21st century with breathtaking speed and agility. There is ample evidence of a storied history that lives in the present. There are also signs everywhere of an emergence as a post-modern nation.

ON THE MOVE. While traditional ways prevail in villages and small towns, even there, in the faces and lives of children and youth, a very different future can be seen taking shape. Children on the move to schools, to higher levels of technical training and into the cities were a constant reality throughout our 2,000-mile bicycle tour from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu to the government center in New Delhi one year ago.

ON A THRESHOLD. It remains to be seen what shape India's future will take. It is very much a work in progress. The present and future of India is being formed by many different--sometimes competing, sometimes conflicting--forces. This dynamic makes it one of the most fascinating cultures and nations to observe and engage over a lifetime. When I go back to bicycle there again in a few years (I hope!), I anticipate much to have changed. For better? For worse? It depends on who you talk to.

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