I was born in 1943. My generation in India saw India become independent of British rule in 1947 and also a republic a few years later. Although I was too young to understand the big events as they took place, I can relate to many things in retrospect.
Thanks to the overwhelming presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, India chose to be a Socialistic Democracy and till the 1990s I saw India as a Socialistic country with all that it implies. Let me just list a few.
Communications. If one had a telephone connection, s/he was next to God in the neighbourhood. One had to book trunk calls and wait endlessly to get connected and usually had to shout to get heard. If one did not have a telephone connection, one went to the nearest post office and booked trunk calls. It was in 1984 that things eased and telephone connections were more easily available as well as many public phone booths came up called STD boots for Subscriber Trunk Dialling booths run by small entrepreneurs. Today, the landline is hardly ever used with cell phones in just about everyone’s hands.
After independence, imports were stopped and India produced two cars, two motorcyles and two scooters. One had to wait in queues for years to purchase one. After 1990 things started to improve and today you can find just about every automobile maker of the world present in India with models adapted for Indian conditions.
Travel meant one used the Indian Airlines or the Indian Railways. Reservation for seats/births were hard to come by and in emergencies, one ran from pillar to post to get a seat. Today there is price competition between half a dozen airlines and the Indian Railways advertises that it has streamlined the reservation system. Long distance bus travel too has improved and there are plenty of alternatives available.
Entertainment meant one screen theaters or government run All India Radio and Doordarshan the government run TV broadcaster. Today, we have multiplexes, malls, 24/7 TV offering a very wide choice of channels, DTH and cable TV as well as FM radio offering 24/7 broadcasting. I can buy any book published anywhere in the world via Amazon or even download electronic versions.
Foreign Exchange when travelling abroad was rationed and I have personally experienced difficulties with inadequate funds when travelling abroad. Today, there are no restrictions for overseas travel and plenty of foreign exchange is available.
Finding difficulty in securing jobs, Indian engineers emigrated out of India but today there is reverse migration with many of them returning or wanting to return to India.
From shortages to plenty, my generation has seen massive changes taking place in the country as a consequence of which, lifestyles have changed and from attitudes of save and spend, we have come to buying / spending on hire purchase, instalment payments etc and value systems have changed as well.
The last 25 years particularly has seen very rapid changes and my generation has found it difficult to keep pace unless it had the benefit of resident geeks like my son and daughter in law who help me with my computer and smartphone. My generation is also seeing the beginning of the impact of climate change and before it becomes too uncomfortable, will fade away leaving the younger generations to handle the mess created by it.
This week’s topic for the weekly LBC post was suggested by Shackman whose take can be seen at his blog. It is also possible that young Pravin may write too as this is a topic that is likely to resonate with him.