This latest article in The Economic Times (of India) has prompted a few thoughts….For the past two decades or so, China has been the Darling of the West.
“Look Ma, they’re getting richer”
…. followed by
“Look Ma, they’ve taken our manufacturing jobs”
whereas India has been chugging along at its own little pace, quietly gaining ground, going from 3rd-world, to 2.9-world (1991), to 2.6-world(2000) to 2.5-world. For most educated Indians (and non-Indians too, I guess), India’s rate of change is awfully slow (and the Communist-dominated Intelligentsia/Elites will even tell you things have deteriorated over the past 50 years too….and then take a sip in full public view from their legally-imported/part manufactured-in-India Bacardi-with-Coke… one of those “recently occurring small changes”).
First let’s put that change in perspective. 5000 years (ok maybe 2000 if you go by the available paperwork and other evidence) of cultural conflict, accumulation, annihilation are not going to be wiped out in a mere 50 years of Western-inspired-by-the-Enlightenment Democracy. Now at the same time, in those 50 years, our country has been governed by
a woman, (even if it was thru Family connections – George Bush Jr. Hello?)
Has had a muslim, a low-caste Hindu and a Sikh for president. We’re currently ruled by a sikh, and it could have been a Catholic, white widow….These things are a Big Deal. What has been governing China for all of it history? Totalitarian, old, Chinese Men. The names change (Manchurian, Confucian, Communist) but the governing style does not).
But the Chinese have one advantage over Indians – and that is the Filth Factor. Whether it is New Delhi or New Laloo Nagar, Indians have a tendency to wallow in filth. I don’t have any explanations behind this. We take baths as frequently as we can (and more so than those blasted Europeans at any rate!). And we do try to keep things clean somewhat (in house and garden). But the definitive smell pervading our railway stations (and really sadly, our International Airports) happens to Urine, mixed with rotting vegetables. Add that to the fact that any empty plot of land is renamed “Garbage Dump Indefinitely” and you have foreign investors running to Shanghai in droves! You see, we may be a democracy, may not remove women’s ovaries after their first kid, we may kick butt when we create software, but somehow we forgot to erase the slag heaps, and allow the bio-degrable waste to degrade a bit too freely, in too many public places.
This flaw is, unfortunately, a very VISIBLE flaw. When you walk on the streets of Delhi, you don’t see the world-class software developers, or the fact that Indians value their right to Vote, and their right to free speech. What you do see are banana peels, heaps of slag piled around Big, Shiny multiplexes and (if you’re not in Delhi) clouds of soot being emitted from the larger, diesel powered 4-wheelers. So India may be shining (and this Voice believes that it truly is) but it doesn’t help if that shine is blocked out by the smell of fresh pee. Now that’s what China sorted out first. They cleaned up the pee and poo first, and allowed people to hoo and ha at the wonder that is Shanghai/Beijing/Shenzen/Zuhai e.t.c. They might shoot you for messing up the stitching of a pair of jeans – but at least they don’t pee on the road. And this unfortunate, shallow fact makes a big difference, because of the VISIBILITY. If we want to project to the World that we are Great country(and also to ourselves through World…which as disgusting as it is, is what we do) we’re going to have to clean ourselves up. Literally. The Taj seems small not so Wonder-of-the_World-ish because of the louts and other filth surronding it. You don’t get that sense of greatness from it. “This is a wonder of the world…” not been researched, or even considered as valid? Corruption (China), Poor Infrastructure (South East Asia), Lack of Natural Resources(various), Over-Population(China, Japan), Human Rights Abuses (everywhere, barring Japan, I suppose), Prejudice, Inequality of Women. These factors exist in other places, but none of those (or maybe 1 or 2) places smell of pee.
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