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March 08, 2005

Indian Impression

The LP India does warn people that you will either love this place or fall madly in love with this country. I really did not understand what they meant, but at end of one month I think I get it. I would never hate India but neither will I ever love this place. One could summerize India as-- country of missed opportunities and a building Powderkeg.

The contrasts When you visit palaces and forts in India you are amazed by their beauty. I have not seen such beautiful art work any other place so far in my 10 month trip. The people that built these places were amazingly intelligent in terms of planning and executing things. At the same time when you step outside these places you are saddened by the fact that India is probably the dirtiest country in the world. People simply do not have pride in their cities, buses or even the national monuments. They spit and piss almost any place they like. The public toilets in India are disaster, a country like Bolivia had better public toilets than India, that should tell you the story. I simply fail to understand why the govt can not simply outsource building and maintains things like public toilets. When you are traveling long distances there are very few "rest stops" with clean bathroom facilities and India thinks its some kind of economic superpower.

The Gap The other thing that stands out is the gap between the poor and rich. When I arrived in India I started talking to the cab driver and asked him how long he had been living in New Delhi and is life getting better? The guy was 45 years old, he had moved to Delhi 30 years ago and had been working as driver for 20 years. He said I have been working every day 6am to 8pm for last 20 years and I am still not able to buy one 10x10 ft room in Delhi. He asked me a question "I know am not very intelligent but I work hard should I not be able to at least have my OWN roof at end of 20 years of work?" He said, every govt comes and promises we will do something for the poor and nothing changes. He said he makes about 2500rp a month. About 80RP per day. While in India visited place called Barista which is similar to Starbucks where you can spend $150 for cup of latte and muffin and at least in Mumbai this place was packed. That means there are large number of people who would spend twice the amount a taxi driver makes on a cup of coffee. . India always had gap between haves and have nots but the gap seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. I wonder when these working class folks in India are going to say -- fuck this I am not going to take this any more. One sign of it is now there are cases in India of kidnapping kids of rich folks for the ransom, much similar to what happens in Argentina.

The MediaIf you ever read Times of India you would think country is a paradise with no social problems. If you actually pull out the city section you will think you are reading the Marina times or Nob Hill Gazette, this section has pictures of rich & beautiful in town who get together for party and invite the photographer. One thing that is rather disgusting in India media TV or films is how all the heroines are white (or fare as they like to say in India). Most Indians have brown skin colour but most female anchors and heroines that you will see are pale white. What the fuck. You can easily see this contrast when you watch Indian heroine dancing, most of her friends dancing behind are dark/brown skinned but she is white. In Indian movies you will sometimes hear dialog like 'Wo to Kali Hai' (She is dark) and people will laugh as if it does not matter. If you watch enough TV in India you will see ads for lotions that are supposed to make your skin fair. There is even a info-martial for this cream that goes into details where girl says I was dark skinned and I couldn't get job or nobody would marry me, I used this cream for 6 months and look at me now! There is absolutely no outrage about this crap in India! And real kicker is at least two times total strangers asked me if America is racists when they found out I lived in US. America is at least 1000 years ahead of India when it comes to leaving skin colour etc behind....

The infrastructureIndia might be booming right now withe every European and American company wanting to outsource low skills jobs to India. But the way things are going this job is going to make very little difference for really poor people in India -- the trickle down economics just does not work in India. I read story where in one of the state in India there was one teacher for three schools, in three different villages, he was supposed to teach about 300 students, covering 7 grades. India seems to be 100 years behind most countries when it comes to physical infrastructure of roads, trains, good airports. There is absolutely no national plan for developing standards for the road. With easy credit in India anybody can buy car but there is no effort towards driver education. It would be interesting to actually take driving test in India. Certainly public works dept in India can save ton of money by not painting the lanes on the road, why do it, if no one is going to follow it? If there is anybody in India that thinks driving is a pleasure he needs to get his/her head examined.

The food Must say in my 10 month trip so far food has been the best in India with so much variety, now having been in M.E. for a month I appreciate the variety of food in India so much.

Posted by Subodh on March 8, 2005 06:30 AM
Category: India


During the British regime it was said "Mooki Bichari Koonihee Haka" or "Poor hepless flock any body can herd them" has that situation changed ? Under successive democratic governments it has gotten worse, another case failed socialism. But at least we didn't communism which would have bred a generation of aye sayers and obedient workers but liquidated the cultural heritage in the process. Democracy will never be the best and most efficient way to govern as much as white house wants everyone to believe. India seems to be in a hurry to copy the west without keeping the human factor in mind or human factor is always an after thought. Your frustration about India as an Indian is amply vivid in your language.


Posted by: DN on March 9, 2005 09:10 AM

I agree with you. The current status of India is pathetic. Did you watch 'Swadesh" by any chance? When we complain and grumble, do we realize if we are not the part of the solution, then we are the part of the problem. What will happen if all the Mumabikar/or Punekar NRIs get together, collect funds to build public Restareas, and employ people to maintain them.This is the idea of "Swarth: Selfish motive with Paramarth: charity".

Posted by: Nirupama on March 22, 2005 07:36 AM
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