Monday, September 12, 2005 

Hyderabad Blues

During my work at one of the top IT companies, I was forced to stay away from my beloved Mumbai, in 3 of India’s major cities. Hyderabad was one of them. And though my association with Hyderabad was the shortest, it was one of the stays I enjoyed the most.

Hyderabad is a calm city, founded by Qutb Shah Quli, and is full of history. Everywhere you go you find buildings of historical importance. Hyderabad offered me so much to see, that even 4 weekends were not enough to cover it all.

The view of Hussain Sagar lake from Birla mandir, or the statue of veiled Rebecca in Salarjung Museum (Trivia: The artifacts at Salarjung Museum were all owned by one person, i.e. Salarjung), or a quiet picnic at Quli Tombs, or the Lights and Sounds show at Golkonda, all of them are must-see/ must-do for any history lover. Add to these the Food Street by Hussain Sagar or Shopping at Charminar, you just can’t get bored in Hyderabad.

(And I couldn’t see Ramoji Film City, the largest in the world, or Golkonda in daylight, or anything in Secunderabad for that matter)

Hyderabad is also one of India’s cheapest cities to live and travel in. Everything was much cheaper in comparison to all the cities I lived in. You could go to the best multiplex on a Sunday and watch a movie for Rs. 60/- (around $ 1.25 US) or see an Imax movie for Rs. 175/- (around $4 US), which is the cheapest Imax experience anywhere in the world. Food is very cheap (especially the world famous Hyderabadi Biryanis), as is travel. You get buses to almost anywhere in the city, and at a good frequency, (nothing compared to BEST, though) or you can take an auto rickshaw. There is something about Hyderabadi Auto drivers. When you tell them the destination, and they tell you their price to the destination, don’t ask them to take you by meter. The fare they quote invariably turns out to be less than the meter fare! Shopping is pretty cheap too; just try those Hyderabadi sherwanis, available at unbelievable prices! The reason for Hyderabad’s affordability is that perhaps it hasn’t been as affected by commercialization as compared to other cities in India.

Hyderabad is also a very spacious city. Unlike Mumbai or Bangalore, you find wide roads everywhere. Even the by lanes are wide, you won’t even find houses or buildings packed close to each other. The flip side of the wide roads is, the break neck speed at which people drive, which makes crossing the road seem like an adventure!

Hyderabad holds a quaint charm, it has still not been ravaged by commercialization and westernization, the twin diseases plaguing the metros of India. I hope Hyderabad will be able to retain it, with the forces of westernization constantly spreading its corrupting influences throughout India.

Sunday, September 04, 2005 

Exporting People

Ever since childhood I was concerned about the fact that Indian currency was weak, and used to pester my father with questions related to the subject. At that time this was the crux of his explanation:
  1. India's exports are less than its imports,
  2. Exports determine the income of foreign currency, which in turn adds to the strength of your currency,
  3. You export only what you have in excess.

At that time, the only thing I could find India having in excess was people. And I also remembered my father telling me that American's could not afford maids or servants as labour there was very expensive. Somewhere, I also happened to read that Russian population was facing negative growth.

I always wondered if we could export our excess people to generate more foreign currency. (At that time, service exports were unheard of. ) Well, globalisation has made this dream come true. Corporates all over the world realised, that with liberalisation and communications revolution in India , it was much cheaper to get work done there.

Indian were and still are going abroad for education and work, but it is mostly our expats from UAE send in regular remittances, which bring in invaluable foreign exchange. But Globalisation rather than taking people away from India has brought work from other countries (which need not be done in those countries) to our country. This must be a rare case where an import (i.e. work) has generated foreign exchange for a country.

Well, for all its detractors, globalisation does hold the potential to bring the world a level playing field, providing opportunities for all. Use it well and it can help you grow.