An N.R.I. looks at India

Jan 28th, 2011, 05:35 AM
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An N.R.I. looks at India

The day I flew from India to Sri Lanka I noticed this opinion piece in "The Hindu": "I love my India, therefore I criticise" - http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open...service=mobile

It's since acquired quite a few online comments, mostly from Indians who think an N.R.I. (non-resident Indian) shouldn't be criticizing India and/or like India the way it is - praising it as colorful, with life on the streets. I found the article even more interesting after spending time in Sri Lanka, a country practically joined to India, and with much less economic strength, that nevertheless avoids some of the problems the author noted in India, while still being colorful and with life on the streets.

Driving from Colombo airport to nearby Negombo I wondered whether I had suddenly gone deaf - no honking! Then I noticed that the drivers maintain lane discipline and motor-cycle drivers wear helmets. Equally startling, no trash on the streets! (And no-one using the sidewalks as public toilets, either.) But given the online comments I don't expect change in India any time soon.
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Jan 28th, 2011, 06:45 AM
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Good to hear from you, thursday. It's usually the case that non-resident brethren are expected to open their wallets and shut their mouths. Stay healthy and safe!
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Jan 28th, 2011, 07:50 AM
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Thanks Marija. I had horrible net access in Sri Lanka, but am now briefly in Singapore with lovely free wifi that works in my room and let me book flights for London and Lisbon instead of Tunisia.
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Jan 28th, 2011, 08:34 AM
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i found his observations interesting... it seems governments are the same the world around
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Jan 28th, 2011, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading the essay and various comments.
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Jan 28th, 2011, 11:41 AM
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Interesting...

Thanks for the post.
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Jan 28th, 2011, 12:04 PM
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Thanks, Thursdays. I sent it to my NRI friends
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Jan 28th, 2011, 03:37 PM
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"it seems governments are the same the world around" - well, not really. Just ask the Egyptians!

But I'm more interested in the fact that the people accept, even condone, the current situation. Maybe you don't notice so much if you get driven everywhere, but if you take public transport or spend much time walking the streets, the dirt - actually, filth - is inescapable. And where else do you see men routinely urinating in public - not late at night when they're drunk, but on main streets in broad daylight?

I shared a cafe table in Puducherry with a Indian woman who worked in an ashram and traveled widely, and her explanation for the dirt in India? It's a tropical country!!! Visiting Sri Lanka immediately after, I did wonder whether the difference was because Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist rather than Hindu - maybe Hinduism leads to fatalism.
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Jan 28th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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i think egypt is certainly another case in point for sure...
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Jan 29th, 2011, 02:14 AM
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Turns out the government can make a difference. I went over to Singapore's Little India this morning in an unsuccessful search for somewhere to get my hair hennaed, and guess what? NO TRASH!

True, the big, green trash cans on the streets were pretty grubby, and the sidewalks and shops looked dingier than the rest of Singapore, but still, NO trash. (And I bet no public urination, either.) If people of Indian heritage can keep trash off the streets in Singapore and Sri Lanka, how come they can't do it in Mumbai and Mangalore?
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Jan 29th, 2011, 07:33 AM
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I was in Trinidad a couple of years ago, a country with about 42% Indians, most of whom are Hindus. Not the litter problem like I saw in India, but Trinidad has a fairly high per capita income because of substantial income from oil and gas production. I'm sure the reasons are very complex.
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Jan 29th, 2011, 11:50 AM
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The contrast between SIkkim and the rest of India is stunning. No trash, littering is socially unacceptable. But just cross the border out of Sikkim, and there is trash everywhere.
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Jan 29th, 2011, 12:18 PM
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Isn't Singapore where you can get thrown in jail for littering? Or is that an urban legend?
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Jan 29th, 2011, 12:36 PM
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SIngapore does have strict laws about littering. I believe it is a fine for a first offense. But that is a clean, safe city!
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Jan 29th, 2011, 01:00 PM
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Yes, CaliNurse, in Singapore you can get fined for littering and thrown in jail.

Good discussion everyone.

Sometimes I wonder if a country like India could use a dose of autocratic rule for about 5 years or so just to shake up the neighborhood??? Of course, we want democracy to return to this wonderful ancient land right after that. (BTW, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka all have some sort of military/ autocratic/communist governments. Sikkim is a kingdom.)

Then again, India continues to surprise and amaze me every time I go there. Inspite of huge existing problems, India keeps moving forward.
(1) Old, congested, dirty cities....and guess what, they are putting subways right down the middle of the city roads...and going underground.
(2) Hinduism has survived the test of time, and the onslaught of Islam and christian missionaries.(BTW, I am not religious!!). Buddhism started in India, although it is no longer the main religion there. So did Jainism.
(3) Illegal immigration into India is rampant, and the country manages to absorb extra mouths to feed. (Although India is probably least prepared to handle any more population increase.)
(4) Traffic lanes and mixed traffic causes all kinds of chaos...yet in big cities, seat belt use is now mandatory.

(5) Mumbai central and New Delhi central (in a 3 mile radius from center) now have only motorized traffic, and no tuk tuks in central Mumbai. It's slow but is this progress(?).

This gives me hope for India's future.
(Not to say that there isn't plenty to criticize too).
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Jan 29th, 2011, 03:10 PM
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"yet in big cities, seat belt use is now mandatory." - really? You couldn't tell that from what I saw. Plus most of the cars I was i had back seat belts, but nothing to connect them to.

"Traffic lanes and mixed traffic causes all kinds of chaos" - traffic lanes wouldn't cause chaos if drivers obeyed the lane markings, which they absolutely don't. It's a total free-for-all, which actually slows things down. Again, fly to neighboring Sri Lanka, and magically people obey lane discipline and they no longer need to keep honking at each other.

I'm certainly not in favor of autocratic government, I just wonder why Indians are content to live in such a mess.
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Jan 29th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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magical for indian dictator!!!
margaret foe VP
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Jan 29th, 2011, 05:19 PM
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Speaking of Egypt, the traffic chaos in Cairo makes India look like Singapore. Which, by the way, has thousands of cameras tracking everyone's every move. Dunno that I'd trade Big Brother surveillance for chewing-gum free streets.

I doubt Indians are "content" to live in such a mess, Thursday. But how in hell do you govern such multitudes living in such poverty? You don't...
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Jan 29th, 2011, 05:32 PM
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"I doubt Indians are "content" to live in such a mess, Thursday. But how in hell do you govern such multitudes living in such poverty? You don't..."

Well, you could start by providing trash cans on the streets. The only place I saw them was in the tourist area of Puducherry, and there they had been vandalized. A public education campaign would be a start, too. And from the reaction to the article in "The Hindu" people do seem willing to keep the status quo.
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Jan 29th, 2011, 10:08 PM
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Me as dictator???....naw, I will not run for dictator, nor will I accept if nominated. But thanks for thinking of me, rhkkmk.lol.

The world is always looking for benevolent dictators....examples....Napoleon(France), Josef Tito(Yugoslavia), Kemal Ataturk(Turkey). Some others start out as "good" but quickly turn into nasties (ex. Cuba(Castro), Taiwan, South Korea military).

Definition of benevolent dictator....Benevolent dictatorship is a form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises political power for the benefit of the whole population rather than exclusively for his or her own self-interest.(Wikipedia)

thursdaysd....I think it's tough to insist on use of trash cans to someone whose entire day's effort is trying to get a square meal or any meal at all for himself and his family. In a democracy he is given the right to choose...and he chooses food over communal trash cans!!!

Still, India tries to get some malls that are clean and upto latest standards...by charging a small fee to get into the mall...example Dilli Haat.

As for honking, my suggestion is to replace electric car horns with an old fashioned bellows style horn (like a bicycle horn)....much more musical sound and would require extra effort before using. LOL.
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