Sunday, Nov 27, 2022
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75MG Aspirin For Your Heartaches

Earlier it was Indians who wanted stuff from abroad; now Indian goodies seem more in demand abroad.

Visiting India at least twice a year for the past five years—as has been my wont—I think one major change encapsulates what has happened to the country I have known and loved for nearly half a century. Five years ago, the moment word got around among my relatives and friends in India that my wife and I were about to arrive, letters, faxes and telephone calls poured in asking if we could bring them sundry things from the West. These ranged from jeans to tennis balls, from a computer to a microwave oven. Now when we visit, our e-mail and telephone in London run hot as British friends place orders for things they want us to bring back from India—clothing, watches, toys, stainless steel, pharmaceuticals. In those short five years, the situation has been completely reversed.

There are two reasons for this. One is that Indian manufacturing has become so innovative and market-oriented that there is now nothing you cannot buy here. So what sensible Indian would want an imported item when the local one is often better, can be repaired should it go wrong and is certainly cheaper? Many Indian manufactured goods are only a tenth of the price of the same goods in the West. Delayed-release 75mg aspirin tablets, commonly used to help prevent heart trouble, cost me twelve times more in Britain than it would in India, so I buy a year's supply at a time. A pair of spectacles with prescription lenses costs me the equivalent of Rs 5,500 in London compared to Rs 2,000 in Bombay, so I buy a new pair every time I visit.

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