" Excess of Reality" - this was how Octavio Paz , the Mexican writer and Nobel prize winner, described his feeling when he set foot in Mumbai for the first time in 1951. He was absolutely overwhelmed by the crowds, colors, noise and smell of the bustling city of Bombay. Later he became Mexican ambassador to India and wrote poems and essays inspired by Lodhi garden in Delhi and Meenakshi temple in Madurai among others.
Now it is the turn of the Indian children to be overwhelmed by the excess of reality and be inspired by a Mexican. Xavier López Ancona, a Mexican entrepreneur has set up in Mumbai an innovative edutainment ( educational entertainment) centre "Kidzania", an indoor theme park, which lets the kids play 80 different real life roles. They can be a pilot, surgeon, fashion designer, fireman, vet, cook and perform such jobs in the Kidzania which has over 60 establishments such as Bank, University, Fire Department, Radio Station and Newspaper. They are either paid for their work as a Stylist, Construction Engineer, Surgeon, or pay to get a service from a University, Culinary School, Department Store, Driving School, Bollywood Acting Academy, Pottery Studio, Kalakshetra Art and Boxed Lunch Delivery service of the famous Dabbavala of Mumbai. The Kidzania city is built to scale for children, complete with paved roads and cars, city buildings, recognisable establishments and a functioning economy. Kidzania combines education with fun and help the children discover their own talents, identify their aptitude, explore career options and develop a real world consciousness.
For Xavier López Ancona, the Mumbai Kidzania is the fourteenth centre. He established the first one in Mexico City in 1999 and has opened in nine countries namely Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Portugal, South Korea, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. His next Kidzania centre in India will be in Delhi by 2015 and later in Bengaluru. Mr Ancona is not only an innovative entrepreneur but also a smart businessman. This is evident from his strategy of partnership with Shah Rukh Khan who holds 26% stake in the venture. King Khan himself inaugurated the Mumbai centre on 29 August.
While Kidzania edutains the Indian kids, another Mexican company Cinepolis is entertaining the adults of India through its multiplexes in cities such as Amritsar, Thane, Bengaluru, Patna, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Surat, Ludhiana, Mangalore, Jaipur and Mumbai. They have an ambitious plan to operate 500 screens in India with an investment of Rs 1,500 crores. Cinepolis is the biggest cinema chain in Mexico with 205 theaters in 65 cities, the largest chain in Latin America and the fourth largest in the world with over 230 theaters and 3,000 screens.
Besides the two Mexican companies, a Mexican actress too has joined in entertaining the Indian audience. Barbara Mori, the Mexican actress has acted in the Bollywood film "Kites" ( released in 2010) with Hrithik Roshan.
Mexico could be an inspiration for Indian Netas too.. The " Pact for Mexico"( Pacto por Mexico), an agreement signed in December 2012 by the four major political parties of the country committing support to vital policies and reforms of national importance is a model for Indian political leaders. The Pact has brought together the ruling centre-left Instituitional Revolutionary Party(PRI) and the three principal opposition parties; the leftist PRD party, the Conservative PAN ( which was ousted from power in 2012 after two terms) and the Green Party which joined the Pact in January 2013. The political parties came together for the Pact after the realization that the polarization of politics had weakened the country alarmingly. The 95- point agenda of the pact ranges from tax overhaul to barring junk food in schools. The Pact has already helped in passing legislative bills to reform the educational system; a legal reform to strip public officials of immunity from criminal prosecution; a telecommunications bill that limits the quasi-monopolistic powers of the country's biggest telephone company, controlled by Carlos Slim, the world's richest man. A tax reform bill has just been presented in the Congress. Electoral and energy reforms are the next to follow.
The Mexico Pact was an initiative by Enrique Penha Nieto the dynamic, young visionary who took over as President of Mexico on 1 December 2012. His party started the negotiations with the other parties as soon as he was elected in July 2012 and signed the Pact on the second day after his inauguration. Despite the ideological differences and clash of political interests, the leaders of the four parties meet regularly over Tequila and Tacos to reach consensus on policies of crucial national importance. The Economist magazine commended, "Mexico appears to have found the medicine for political gridlock" and commented,"plenty of Americans must have cast a jealous eye south of the border this year". Wall Street Journal wrote, " At a time when politicians in Washington struggle to agree on anything, their Mexican counterparts sit down almost daily to talk about thorny issues". Understandably, tensions and conflicts between the parties and the protests by vested interests affected by reforms continue to pose challenges for the implementation of the Pact. But the Mexicans, in general, are encouraged by the new consensual approach of the parties and are optimistic that Mexico has a new future.
The Indian political parties need to learn from the constructive consensus of "Pact for Mexico"and stop the destructive divide which has hindered reforms and development of India. The next Prime Minister in 2014 should start with a "Pact for India".