India at Crossroads on Path to Superpower Status

Meanwhile, the professor and his team of scientists have submitted a detailed new proposal that is based on a method tested in California and has received accolades from experts at the journal Science. In the proposed process, the water of the Ganges is conducted through four different pools at specific locations to remove pathogenic fecal bacteria.

The devout environmentist refuses to give up. "In Hinduism, losing one's patience is just as much a sin as showing too much indifference toward the suffering of others," says Mishra, as he stands up. He has trouble on his feet and has to rely on the support of friends when he walks. This determined dreamer doesn't know how much time he has left. But now he has his religious duties to attend to. The nightly drum dance has begun, the faithful are bringing their flower offerings to the temple and eating sweets, and the monkeys are squealing in anticipation.

India is not condemned to backwardness, and the Hindu religion -- at least as interpreted by enlightened people like Professor Mishra -- is not necessarily an obstacle to development. Despite its many setbacks and problems, the country that Winston Churchill once treated with such disdain, calling it "no more a united nation than the equator," has proven that it can be more than the sum of its parts, and that it can find unity in its diversity. India is a latecomer to the contest with its major rival, China, over which country has the better development model. It lags behind Beijing in some respects, but the race is still undecided.

The great French writer Romain Rolland once wrote: "If there is one place on the face of the earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India."

-- with Padma Rao

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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