I ask myself that question each time I visit India. Another former empire nation, India is likely the country with the most potential of any Tier 2 emerging market—if only it could get its act together.

My first visit to the country was in 1997. After stopping in Hong Kong for the handover, I boarded a flight for New Delhi. As I recall, it was one of the scariest flights I have ever been on (besides the Singapore Airlines flight I was on leaving Taipei when I witnessed one of the four engines exploding from the upper deck). The combination of unstable air from the monsoon and the mountain ranges made for a turbulent flight with a spectacular lightning show.

Landing at the airport in Delhi was an interesting experience. Besides the fact that I am the first member of my family in three generations to set foot in the country of my origin, India assaults you the minute you land. Normally, when a plane lands, the vents are opened to let in fresh air from the outside. When landing in India, I would recommend that the pilot not open the vents. The pollution is so bad that all I could do was clutch my throat and reach for a bottle of water in my backpack. Yes, it’s that bad. On my last trip, just a couple of years ago, that part had not changed. I have been to India several times in the past 15 years and the pollution is getting worse each time. That’s not a good sign. I would have to rank it ahead of China in this respect, not a position that the country ...

Get Where In the World Should I Invest: An Insider's Guide to Making Money Around the Globe now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.