Not at many places in India, unfortunately. Driving around Mumbai, one is appalled to see the utter neglect of almost everything that can be neglected. Schools, roads, garbage dumps and most importantly, rules. In many ways, Republican India is a much better place for the oppressed majority of the sub-continent than the empires/sultanats/samrajyas that preceded it. A Chamar in the Bihari backwaters can (with great efforts) educate himself and rise to the top. But that only fixes part of the problem.
Individually one can excel here, with some luck and a lot of patience. But the broader Indian society is a frightening entity. A lot of the problems are blamed on the politicians of this country. But they just suffer from the malaise that afflicts many in this country; not taking their jobs seriously. There is an air of entitlement or disinterest with almost of any kind of work. Indians often brag about their ‘family values’, but it seems to me that Indians value only their family. Work can always take a back seat.
In this sea of unprofessionalism, there are many islands of integrity and dedication to work. They are present in every aspect of India today, not just in the ‘private sector’, like some might want to believe. Be it the police, the media, NGOs and the Parliament, there are men and women who dedicate their lives fighting the injustice and apathy around them. They work day and night to build a better India for the future. Looking at the last 60 years, I get the feeling that they will succeed, but at the current rate it may take many generations.
India needs some great leaders, fast. The important question is that, does the current political system hamper their emergence ? Arguments can be made on both sides of this question. Mayawati, a great leader for some (including me) is taken by many (with justification) to be a symptom of everything that ails politics in India. But the truth is, in a twisted irony of fate, India’s fate is dependant to a large extent on the actions of a Dalit woman. Perhaps the real problem was that it took so long for things to start coming into their natural order. Indians might start taking their country seriously once they have something deep at stake in its destiny.