I'M WRITING this from New Delhi, a city bustling with life. The streets are choked with three-wheelers and motorbikes competing with the ever-reliable Ambassador and Japanese models such as the Hondas and Toyotas. New Delhi is undergoing a transformation - in five or 10 years time, visitors will see yet another new city.
It is exciting and lively, full of history and tradition, existing side by side with an economy striving to feeds the country's millions. Today, a new economic landscape is fast emerging, one that is vibrant and thriving.
Perhaps, the best evidence of the transformation is the marked reduction of pollution. The three-wheelers, the autos as they are referred here, are the common man's cheapest and perhaps fastest form of city transportation. Running on two-stroke engines, they were easily the single biggest contribution to city smog.
But today, the two-wheelers are running on CNG! The Supreme Court ruled about two years ago that every autos must convert to CNG. And convert they did! Overnight, the pollution in the city was reduced. With several million autos now running on CNG, you can imagine how much impact this would have on the environment.
It was on my first night in New Delhi that I met a young Indian man, Manik, a deal-maker-entrepreneur who took some time to have coffee with me and my associate before he flies to London taking the 2am flight.
Manik perhaps typifies today's India's enterprising spirit. This young man, in his late 20s or early 30s, makes a quick flight to London and then catches another flight to cross the Atlantic to the United States. His core business is IT, and he has clients in many places.
He came to Malaysia about two years ago, but that experience wasn't a happy one. He entered into several agreements with Malaysian partners, left for home confident that the seed he sowed would grow into a big tree of abundant profits and a bright future.
Alas, it wasn't to be. His Malaysian partners went through a series of bad luck - one went bankrupt, one couldn't be traced, one owed him money but doesn't look like going to pay him back. Manik shrugged his shoulders and refused to allow that setback to slow him down.
Hence, Europe and the USA. He says the world is his profit centre; he wants and is already positioning himself as a world entrepreneur, operating in a seamless world pursuing opportunities and meeting new challenges. He insists he's on several learning curves simultaneously.
I met a few other ladies and gentlemen, each eager to venture into the big world and chart a new future elsewhere. Uprooting themselves and their families doesn't seem to bother them; adjusting to a foreign culture is considered a challenge that comes with new opportunities; and going global is a mantra they fully subscribe to.
I was compelled to compare them with Malaysians back home. Have we gone soft? Are we ill-equipped to go beyond our shores and look for fame and fortune? Are we too far deep in our comfort zone to rise to new challenges? Are we afraid? Or contented?
I looked at Manik. Puthu and Avy and can imagine their future. They are risk takers, but they are suitably armed as knowledge workers and entrepreneurs who dare to fail to succeed. Some years from now, the whole of India will be connected with super highways and it would be to everyone's peril if they do not cultivate this new, emerging economic power house.
My simple questions are - are we losing out to India? Are we ignoring India's potential as an important and strategic business partner? Have we lost it...?