Footprints Of A Nation

ushmita Choudhury in Anniversary Issue of ‘India Today’ recently listed 30 events that changed our lives. I thought of selecting some as a technocrat. Each of the events has made a big impact. Those who had experienced the days before the events can only appreciate the change. I still remember 1966 and the food shortage in Kolkata. My wife was pregnant with my eldest son. I sent someone to procure rice that is our main meal. The man returned empty-handed. I do also remember the purchase of the first black and white TV on the birthday of my second son, and the amount of maintenance it required. And then when we returned from UK and the Europe’s trip, Yamuna who was with me insisted to bring the first colour TV in 1982, as the colour transmission had started by the year because of ASIAD. Here are the other events:

1967, Green Revolution
Food shortage in the 1960s had led Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to appeal to the nation to skip a meal every week. In 1966-67, India had to import 20 mt of foodgrain. The Green Revolution saw the output grow by 70 per cent.

1982, Colour TV
On November 19, 1982, viewers saw life in colour for the first time, and the events at the Asian Games. One lakh CTV sets were imported.

1983, Sachet Revolution
It began with shampoo in sachets. Now everything from toothpaste to hair oil is available in sachets.

1968, Jaipur Foot
The artificial limb developed in Jaipur is known for transforming lives of the handicapped. The prosthesis was upgraded in 1985.

1977, Mark II Pump
To a drought-scarred India, Mark II was more than a cheap durable water pump. From 600 units a month in 1977, one lakh units were being manufactured by 1984. It’s among the best hand pumps in the world today.

1983, Maruti 800
The car, ridiculed at conception, not only became a middle-class necessity but also put more women behind wheels.

1986, Equity Cult
When companies like Reliance Industries-which raised an army of 12 million shareholders in eight years-came out with public issues, ordinary Indians took the expressway to lakhpati-dom.

1995, Cyber Café
When India’s first cyber café opened in Bangalore, little did people realise how quickly and fundamentally, dotcom would change India. Today 60 per cent of India’s Net users access the web through cyber cafés.

2000, BPO industry
It represented a new paradigm for international trade in services. Call centres were a Mecca for fresh graduates looking for decent pay packets.

1991, Cable and Satellite TV
Thanks to the surfing frenzy of cable TV, the average Indian watches two hours of TV every day and there are 300 channels fighting for mindshare. The latest to beam is direct-to-home TV.

1997, Multiplex
The number stands at 250 today, while 1,000 more are expected to start withing the next five years.

2000, Reality TV
Be it KBC, Nach Baliye or The Great Laughter Challenge, everyone wanted his/her 15 minutes of TV fame.

1999, Easy Credit:
Life-on-EMI became the mantra as banks fought with each other to offer more attractive loans, making life easier for people.

2006, Cheap Mobile Phones
July 2006 alone saw 5.28 million new mobile subscribers. Be it in the dunes of Rajasthan or the delta of Bengal, this is the most potent weapon available to the country to bridge the digital divide.

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