India is Shining
This post is a direct response to Patrix’s post on his blog here. He writes about “are we headed the right way?” vis a vis his recent return to India after three years for a holiday. Before you continue reading, I would recommend that you read his post. I completely disagree with every thing he has to say on that post and I will explain why. This post is not against Patrix as a person, but his perception. I hope he will not take it personally. Patrix does put a disclaimer saying that his post is a rant, but then there are no rules about not commenting on rants !!
This post is not only a reflection of what I read on Patrix’s blog, but an attitude I see in most desis returning to India. And it rankles me a lot.
It is very easy to be critical of India, and to question whether India is really shining or are we there yet. But doing so is in such a subjective realm that any accurate analysis has to take all of the conditions one encounters before making a judgement.
Power cuts have been a regular in India since a long time. Of course Bombay was the only exception, thanks to TATA’s. But from what I hear, in recent times, the duration has lessened and is not as bad as it was before. Therefore to say
smack in the middle of regularly scheduled daily power outrage in the early hours of the morning. No wonder Indians don’t seem to sleep late. I entered my home in the dark, fiddling around with the keys but thankfully, the inverter installed in key locations made it a little less frustrating.
is not a very accurate portrayl. The electric power outages are there, and fewer. What has changed is the comfort level of oneself. Used to having full power at all times in US, lulls one to a certain sense of taking things for granted. That the permanent energy comes at a humonguous cost to the environment is something conveniently forgotten. India does need to improve on the continuous supply of electricity, but that does not mean, we are not there yet !!
I find the next point equally surprising.
I just hate it when you aren’t the only person in your own home and your privacy is intruded upon so especially when you need it the most.
Again, does 3 years being away bring about such a large change that privacy becomes something so important? We as Indians have a very relaxed attitude about privacy. It is a very American concept, and hence to demand and expect that in India, is something that does not gel well.
But nowadays, I have stopped arguing with dad even when he makes no sense at all.
At the end of the day, this is your dad’s house, hence not much to choose from !! But on the other hand, I am sure the only reason the house is getting prepped up is because the favorite son is returning back for the first time. It is a cause of celebration and sprucing up the house is one of the many actions.
Internet connection, sadly is something we take as our birthright here in the US, much like the air we breathe, or the gas we put in our cars at dirt cheap prices (in the US at least). In India, it is not so pervasive, and in many a ways, I can feel patrix’s frustration on this.
As regards population increase I think that is again a relative perceptual change. Except for maybe NYC, nowhere in America do you see the crowds that one encounters in India. The crowds have been there and always will. This is nothing new. What is different, is that living in Atlanta, or College Station has dulled Patrix’s reaction to larger number of masses.
Infrastructure, is one thing that I have to agree with Patrix on. There needs to be a war path to better infrastructure. Not only roads, and rail and air, but on the info superhighway too. That is probably the only point on which I feel we ain’t there yet.
Pollution is something that India has to counter, but then I have always heard highly exaggerated versions of how bad the pollution is. The first time I returned from the US, every single person asked me if I felt as if I was choking etc, when I went on my bike. Expecting me to say yes, they were really taken aback, when I said no. Again pollution is subjective. Someone from middle America comes to NYC and finds the pollution a lot. But then no one says NYC is a polluted city. Therefore, unless I see technical data that speaks about this, I feel that its a fashionable thing to blame pollution.
Bad public behaviour like honking incessantly or directing traffic with no authority, is something that I disagree with. However being tolerant is one of the qualities that define us Indians. We as a nation are very tolerant. Pakistan comes and fucks us up the ass every few years and we still extend a hand of friendship. So is the way in day to day life. You know that the guy behind you is honking away, and its best to let him pass and be with it. He will go away, and so will the noise.
Living in the US, makes you very intolerant. I can say that with authority. Everytime I return to India, I feel irritated by something. But then I try to think of what my reaction would have been to the same incident, before I left for the US. And in there lies the answer. Living in a society here that is litigious, incendiary, and very very intolerant, spoils one.
In the NYC subway, if you try to get into a crowded train coach just as the door closes, you will get dirty stares and outright indignation. In India, ten hands will grab you in first and then scold you at your stupidity to board a running train. That shows a temperament of a culture. You know where my preferences lie.
Traffic by large is the greatest problem, but it’s not something that can be sorted out by just being disciplined. Infrastructure upgrades are necessary as the booster to start that process.
You can jump out at me and say that it is easy for me to say what I am, while sitting here in NYC. But then everytime I go to India, I am all the more sure that what I write is not just for the heck of it, but something that I truly believe in. Ask anyone who knows me.
So in ending this post, I urge Patrix to rethink some of his rants, and to look at them through the relative eyes of someone who has got used to living in a very easy and privilaged society. A lot of India is the same or better than when you and I left it. What has changed is our vision. literally and figuritively.
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