This post is a response to the article by Sumedh Mungee http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/why-i-left-india-again/ and Chetan Bhagat’s “reaction” http://www.chetanbhagat.com/blog/2011/10/24/happy-diwali-and-why-i-am-still-here/
Firstly, Sumedh writes very well. Maybe the NYT editors had a part in it but the article keeps you glued till the last word.
Unlike Chetan’s post, where I had to force myself to read after the first few paras. Surprised how he manages to sell so many books 🙂
Now what I like about Sumedh’s article is that he is not afraid to call a spade a spade. He writes about his heart felt discomfort with the place where he has to live in and raise his children. Nothing wrong with that. Why does Chetan live in south Mumbai and not in the “sub-urbs” or for that matter outside Mumbai?
Besides, I feel Chetan has just taken his own life example and tried to show-off his “goody goody” nature. Nearly 80% of his article is about what he has done to improve the lot of his helpers. Do we care?
Moreover, what Sumedh is talking about is the cultural backwardness prevalent in India. Has Chetan not heard of the recent honour killings or the gang rapes? Has he done something about it?
My question is simple. For how long will we run away from the issues that stop us from being a joke in the international community? When will we stop and say “hey we were wrong let’s change ourselves”
Coming to the point of action, I would like to list down few things that I feel make India a poorer country. I was born here and have no experience of living in a foreign land. I might be biased but I still want these things to change in India.
1. The power structure : If your father is a state politician does that give you a right to stop the traffic whenever you want to? Or beat the person up who does not listen to you? Who does the common man appeal to for not being humiliated by these “big” people?
2. Law and order system : Let us say the common man goes to the police for help. Does the police help? Why is the police in India still so unresponsive? Why is the police not trained? Is the common man confident of getting justice in India? Does he get justice in time? Why? Then what is the difference between living in a jungle and in a developed country?
3. Healthcare : In the past few years we have been able to set up world class medical facilities. But are these really helping the majority in India? The majority of the patients treated here are foreigners who find the medical expenses cheaper here and hence are willing to come to India to get operated.
How does this help the lakhs of other people? Are we doing anything, except giving free polio drops, that is helping the majority?
4. Education : Despite having so called brilliant students we have failed to create world class educational institutions. Why are our top colleges still lacking behind the American and European colleges? Why does an American student not aspire to come to India to study? As an Indian am I really happy to send my kids to an Indian school or I still dream of an Oxford education? And is my Indian education enough to get me a world class job?
5. Jobs : Although there has been a huge growth in the number of jobs and the areas in which one could work, India is still behind many countries in terms of job satisfaction. Do we Indians demand the moon? Or we are happier doing the same stuff when we are in the US? Do the highest paid in India feel better than their foreign counterparts?
6. Society : Yes, Indians are alien in a foreign land. Even in Asian countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and UAE. But are they not aliens in their own country? Ask a person from south of India if he was not scared to go to Punjab alone? How many people think of Bihar as a place to not worth going to? Or the north east? Even in bigger cities like Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkata we have places where the discrimination is evident.
Even now every year thousands of people immigrate, some legally some illegally. Are all these people missing out on the India Shining story? Or they just realistic, having realized that the change required will not come in their lifetime. Maybe they are cowards as Chetan says but what if their priority is a better future for their kids and a healthier environment for themselves and their family? Can they wait for the change to happen? And for how long?
Maybe I will see the day when I will really like to live in India. And thanks Sumedh for reminding that we have a long way to go.