By now, I’ve spent most of my adult life in Mumbai. And I can’t dream of living anywhere else in the country. I guess it’s got to do with the professional joys of working in Mumbai. But it is hard not to notice the sharp decline in the quality of public life across the state for more than two decades now.
Maharashtra is no longer the fountainhead of new ideas and next generation practices, as it used to be in the past. Its vibrant cultural leadership has been hijacked by the petty, sectarian agendas of parties like the Shiv Sena and MNS. For the past one year and a half that Forbes India has been around, most of my colleagues have discovered more cutting edge ideas in infrastructure, education, healthcare, agriculture and social sector reforms during their travels to states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan than the scam-ridden Maharashtra.
That is why the entry of Prithviraj Chavan offers plenty to cheer about. For the first time in several decades, the state has a chief minister who has the reputation of delivering a clean, progressive administration, and has the full support of the Congress High Command. Will Chavan be able to rise above the exigencies of short-term politics and drive Maharashtra’s much-needed renewal? Kumar Ketkar, the much feted editor of the Marathi daily Loksatta attempts to answer these questions on page 38. He has closely tracked Chavan’s career and has a deep understanding of politics in the state. Ketkar spoke to Forbes India about the specific challenges facing Chavan in re-establishing Maharashtra’s pre-eminence. It is a must read.
This time, in our cover story, we chose to capture the inside story of the UID project, quite simply, the biggest garage startup in the country. Volunteers who’ve earned their spurs in global firms from around the world have signed up to work in tandem with some of the smartest bureaucrats in the country. Think of it as a giant public-private partnership (PPP). For several weeks, Associate Editor Mitu Jayashankar and Special Correspondent N.S. Ramnath were given exclusive access to this startup team, both in Delhi and Bangalore. Melding the two cultures isn’t easy, but I know lots of friends who’d love to chuck their day jobs and sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime assignment. I must confess I don’t fall into that category. I love my job as a journalist. And as I said earlier, I love working in Mumbai.
Tell us what you think of these stories as well as the other surprises you’ll discover as you read the rest of the edition.
(This story appears in the 03 December, 2010 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)