A Million Reasons Against A Better Life In India, And One Big Reason For It

tom friedman tbi

New Delhi

The world hit seven billion people last week, and I think I met half of them on the road from New Delhi to Agra here in India. They were on foot, on bicycle, on motor scooters. They were in pickups, dented cars and crammed into motorised rickshaws. They were dodging monkeys and camels and cows.

Somehow, though, without benefit of police or stoplights, this flow of humanity that is modern India impossibly went about its business.

But just when your mind tells you that this crush of people will surely overwhelm all efforts to lift the mass of India out of poverty, you start to notice a pattern: Every few miles there’s a mobile phone tower and a fresh-looking building poking out of the controlled chaos. And the sign out front invariably says “school” — engineering school, biotechnology school, English-language school, business school, computer school or private elementary school. India is still the only country I know where you can find a billboard advertising “physics degrees.”

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