India is like a train going to a destination where people are going to be better off, but it’s a question of how many stops and speed restrictions there are on the way, said Sir Mark Tully, 76, former BBC correspondent, writer and railway enthusiast.
He added that the country’s chugging towards a track of prosperity is hamstrung by largely one problem — the problem of governance.
This is the unifying theme in his new book, ‘Non Stop India’, which he released at the Literature Live festival in the city on Saturday. “You are in a long distance train going at 130 kmph and then the train starts to go uhh uhh uhhh,” laughed Tully as he impersonated a grunting train. “And then it crawls for a bit and then zips forward again…We want India to be going at a constant line and speed, like they say in railway terms.”
Twenty years since Tully’s ‘No Full Stops in India’ was released and the economic reforms took place, Tully travelled through the country looking to tell stories on the changes. These included exploring the destructive power of English, whether the condition of Dalits has improved and explaining the spirit of “jugaad”.
“I do think that the economic red tape which was tying down the economy has been untied but I don’t think it has been sufficiently disentangled… the disappointing thing is the fundamental problem of governance,” said Tully, who is based in Delhi, was born in Calcutta, studied in England and has been reporting on India for the past 30 years.
“But, who the hell knows all about India? The fun of writing this book and the fun of living in India is that you’re discovering new things all the time.”