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The Two Faces Of India

The Two Faces Of India

September 03, 2011

The recent Anna Hazare events unveiled the two faces of India; which is not ying and yang more polar opposites.



The events surrounding Anna Hazare in India has thrown up I think the two faces of India, which for me goes something like this: A big beautiful shopping mall in Delhi, which houses a Marks and Spencers store, a British high street brand. So, what happens to the cottage industries and the amazing products that the artisans produce? Then there is the palatial Louis Vuitton store; the expensive, couture high-fashion brand, and the street children running outside the store, barefoot, nowhere to live and not a lot to eat.  The volume of cars speeding in India’s hill stations, which zoom around in town’s originally built for walking. Do you see the picture I am painting? It’s a picture of polar opposites.

India to me has always been many things, having many sides. People treat you according to where you are in society, your position and standing. If you are poor then sadly you are invisible. What has always struck me is that India is such a beautiful country, the Mecca of spirituality...even the Beatles came to India for enlightenment! It’s a nation where there are more religious festivals to celebrate than days of the year...yet the vast number of people that I have met in India seem to be devoid of their spiritual essence. Instead they are looking for their next bribe to help fund their mansions.

In India the middle class questions are ‘How’ and ‘When’ or ’How much do you earn? How much did it cost? What do you do? When are you getting married? The poor person’s questions are: ‘How will I eat?’ ‘When will I eat?’...you may think I am being harsh, though I do promise you everything I write here is from my personal experience and what I have witnessed over the last years 20 years.

These two faces of India now seem to be at direct opposites as the gap between the rich and poor is widening due to the growing economy, the rise of a bigger, stronger middle class, investment by outside countries and technology. There seems to be no attempt to bridge this gap...it just grows like a chasm between the classes. Unfortunately, I also think that India’s caste and class system will not let society bridge this gap. It suits the wealthy to have an under class to do the jobs that they were themselves not born to do.

There are a lot of good people, social workers working tirelessly and without thanks at grassroots, with poor communities and the vulnerable. There are people trying to make the changes...to make the two faces become one. Though they need support of the central and state governments; what they don’t need is the politics and political point scoring. I think right now in India everyone is losing unless India does pull together as one people. So, if my piece has moved you in some way, inspired you, then don’t walk past the invisible street children, stop and make a difference to them. Be the other face of India, which India can be... Make India Incredible for the right reasons.

Photo credit: icc-cricket-news.blogspot.com

13 Comments

  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    15.09.11 09:22 PM
    @Shirish Patwa - Yes I do re 'have and have nots' - it is a global problem and apparently, is one of the reasons why we had riots in the UK and why there is discontent in the world right now, particularly in the Middle-East. It is suppression by a ruling class.

    I do believe with the internet and technology we do have the possibilities to unite the world and make good things happen. We are treading a digital revolution right now and living in exciting times of change.
  • shirish patwa
    By
    shirish patwa
    14.09.11 10:12 AM
    The ying &yang faces of India is well taken of. But don,t you think that this battle of Have &Have-not is prevailing inevery country? The British Aristocrates & British Labour Class represent the same struggle.The so called cultured whites & under privileged Blacks throw the same imbalances. The intensity may differ but the problem is same every where.The Present & Future generation of the World has to take up the task of bridging the gap. The revolution in communication & transport has made the World as a big family.Since you can not suppress the disparity anymore the struggle will aggravate in the daye to come,Anna's show of strength within India or people's uprise in Arab countries.The ugly Rich all over the World has to learn a lesson or be prepared to be another Gadaffi.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    13.09.11 02:12 PM
    @shirish patwa - This is my personal take. The 'two faces' is a take on the good and the bad; the ying and yang. It is nothing to do with ethnicity or language. Neither am I saying that India is not interesting...to the contrary. These two faces that I see are what makes it interesting and diverse. I am explaining the polar opposites that coincide together.
  • shirish patwa
    By
    shirish patwa
    13.09.11 01:35 PM
    I am really happy that you people staying far away brood over the two faces of India.When I read about 'other face' I would like to know who is the first face you are referring.For me India has innumerable faces. If you read Europian history you will find that tiny nations were formed based on either language or ethinic diversity.India with vast population so many languages geographically as well as economically so diverse and still it is one country.It may not be a perfect one but it still is a wonder!Monolithic face is certainly boring. That is why India is an interesting country.Probably it is the only country where illiteracy is pervading through the length and breadth but still churnig out highest number of professionals in the world. Its family system is unique. The tolerance level is (undesirably) high.There are many facets and each one is more interesting than the other.
  • Joseph James
    By
    Joseph James
    12.09.11 08:16 PM
    You talk of the two faces of India! India has a thousand faces. Depends on how you look at it. Even if we go by the economic criterion you have chosen, there are certainly more than two faces. And did Anna's protest unveil these two faces you talk of? Kiran Bedi (an IPS officer), Arvind Kezriwal (an IItian), the Bhushans (top class lawyers) and their ilk do not represent the other face. They belong to the 'same face'. It's the naxalite uprisings in Bihar, Bengal and Andhra that remind us of the 'other face' and what it can do to disfigure the 'Marks and Spencers' face. Even the people who thronged around Anna in the Ram Lila Maidan didn't belong to this other face you talk. There were daily rallies in my place in support of Anna. They were mostly businessmen and local netas who do not belong to the other face. The other face doesn't really understand all this balderdash about Jan Lok Pal. As you have rightly pointed out, they have more pressing matters to think of. You certainly have made a point. But I would strongly disagree when you say Anna's movement is an uprising by the marginalised sections. As for the merging of two faces - will the twain ever meet?
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    06.09.11 01:11 PM
    @laba.biz - Thanks and yes, though I have no experience of Chinese societies. May be that's one for you?...
  • laba.biz
    By
    laba.biz
    06.09.11 12:06 PM
    Great post and great blog!
    It wuuld be very interesting also a comparison between indian and chinese societies? Do you agree?
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    05.09.11 05:14 PM
    @CooperPatel - Thanks! My personal observations over the years.
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    05.09.11 05:13 PM
    @matheikal - Yes, you are right, though didn't India learn that from the British with their divide and rule policy?
  • Sangeeta Haindl
    By
    Sangeeta Haindl
    05.09.11 05:11 PM
    @zephyr - I think the fact that I have alluded to Louis Vuitton store refers to the fact that I acknowledge the sumptuous rich of India.
  • matheikal
    By
    matheikal
    04.09.11 08:32 PM
    India always loved to polarise people, didn't it? Think of our ancient heritage of the caste system which was a blatant example of polarisation. Now we do the same in a slightly different way - acquisition of wealth by means more foul than fair.
  • CooperPatel
    By
    CooperPatel
    04.09.11 04:24 PM
    Good insight into India.
  • zephyr
    By
    zephyr
    04.09.11 09:56 AM
    In this post, you have omitted the third class -- the filthy rich political and industrialist class. They are the ones that are widening the chasm between the middle and poorer section. They are the ones that can make the difference in every way and aren't. Look at Ambani's mansion and the crores with the politicians. The middle class still has a heart, the others don't.

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