Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reimagining India

The subcontinent was home to some of the most sophisticated early human civilizations. Critics of India's modern infrastructure would do well to recall that inhabitants of Mohenjo-Daro and Rakhigarhi built the world's first-known urban sanitation systems five thousand years ago and may have been the first to use wheeled transport. For centuries after Alexander's departure, India was governed by powerful Hindu dynasties who patronized the arts and took keen interest in religion, philosophy and practical science. Megasthenes, the first western historian to venture beyond the Punjab into the Gangetic plain, described a land so verdant and fertile that "famine has never visited India and there has never been a general scarcity in the supply of nourishing food." Venetian traveler Marco Polo, who claimed to have visited several ports in India during his 1292 voyage from China to Persia, declared Malabar (now Kerala) on India's southwest coast to be the "richest and most splendid province in the world".

....in Akbar's court in Fatehpur Sikri, notes British historian Alex von Tunzelmann, Akbar lived in "unmatched opulence... in rooms done out with marble, sandalwood and mother-of-pearl, cooled by the gentle fanning of peacock feathers." By comparison, Elizebeth was a "weak and feeble woman" who ruled over a "grubby, unsophisticated, cold, dismal little kingdom."

--Reimagining India, by Mckinsey & Company 2013

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