Taking The Long Road Home

A Chronicle of My Journey from Singapore Back To Austin

Sean Paul Kelley

Sean Paul Kelley
Austin, Texas, United States of America
October 06
Agonist Intermedia Inc.
Sean Paul Kelley is a travel writer, former radio host, and before that an asset manager for a Wall Street investment bank that is still (barely) alive. He recently left a fantastic job in Singapore working for Solar Winds, a software company based out of Austin to travel around the world for a year (or two). He founded The Agonist, (agonist.org) in 2002, which is still considered the top international affairs, culture and news destination for progressives. He is also the Global Correspondent for The Young Turks, on satellite radio and Air America. He blogs at The Huffington Post from time to time as well. He's traveled in more than 50 countries including Iran, Turkey, Oman, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, China, Nepal and India. You can read his travel-blogging at The Agonist, which is updated regularly.


MARCH 26, 2009 9:09AM

Reflections On India

Rate: 10 Flag

And People Wonder Why The Lights Go Out In Delhi So Often?If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who's being honest with you and wants nothing from you. These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn't visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India, except as I mentioned before, Kerala. Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn't really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don't seem to care and the lower classes just don't know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.

India is a mess. It's that simple, but it's also quite complicated. I'll start with what I think are India's four major problems--the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation--and then move to some of the ancillary ones.

First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don't know how cultural the filth is, but it's really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump. Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India. Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight. Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one's health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads. The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum--the capital of Kerala--and Calicut. I don't know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India's productivity, if it already hasn't. The pollution will hobble India's growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small 'c' sense.)

The second issue, infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India. Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls. The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand, much less Western Europe or America. And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit. There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older. Everyone in India, or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It's awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses. At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India. 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now. The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit. Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia, Israel and the US I guess.

The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided into two parts that've been two sides of the same coin since government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption. It take triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for one's phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service. Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India. The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example, civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don't have the time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job. Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals and practice in the cities instead.

I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don't think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too conservative a society to want to change in any way. Mumbai, India's financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam, or Indonesia--and being more polluted than Medan, in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats I have ever seen were in Medan!

One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn't produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, imminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing. The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It's a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I'm far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.

Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I've been there. I've done it. And I've seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia, have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does. And the bottom line is, I don't think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative.


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An interesting read. Now I'm torn -- avoid visiting Sumatra, home of the giant rat, or avoid India, home of the fecal mound? Maybe I'll just stay home this year.
No altho all he says is indeed true, yet it is almost heavenly beautiful where it is :) it is strange. Am torn between leaving and staying back too.
The reason is at the grassroots level 1) our women are all wrong, no time to do good futuristic mothering or courage or education or gumption to stand up to corrupt males,
2) education system at school all wrong, we teach nothing that would produce a GOOD citizen, we pay too much premium on being god in studies and think the humanity part wd take care of itself, it doesn't as you can see
3) no one respects teachers, no one listens to us - am a nobody not as a woman and mother potential, or as a brilliant High School teacher, or as a tax paying contributing citizen.
Therefore they leave. We do care and try for the most part, then we leave. You see??? A divorce.
No Inchkachka, altho all he says is indeed true, yet it is almost heavenly beautiful where it is :) it is strange. Go visit the Himachal and the Garhwal, and the Berijam mountain range in the Dindigulal region, come visit our forests and tropical jungles, make friends with Bengalis, you would love that part :) India is like a beautiful woman that is clothed in ugly dirty clothes and repressed by very very ugly men. Through it all you still can see her glory and loveliness and her spirit and it is possible to love her. Come during Vasantutsav to Shantiniketan to watch the festival of colour in March which they call Holi in the rest of India and you wd be amazed - trust me.

Am torn between leaving and staying back too.
The reason is at the grassroots level 1) our women are all wrong, no time to do good futuristic mothering or courage or education or gumption to stand up to corrupt males,
2) education system at school all wrong, we teach nothing that would produce a GOOD citizen, we pay too much premium on being god in studies and think the humanity part wd take care of itself, it doesn't as you can see
3) no one respects teachers, no one listens to us: am a nobody - I do NOT matter, not as a woman and mother potential, or as a brilliant High School teacher, or as a tax paying contributing citizen.

Therefore they leave. We do care and try for the most part, then we leave. You see???
those who think like me are beaten down and driven out as rebels and outcasts. I still did write our citizenship curriculum for our school tho but I know it will be a huge struggle to get people to adopt it. Even after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

We need a good Hitler to come purge the country of the ugly potbellied baniya jews that suck it dry. You know why they dont teach grammar in govt schools? so Private tutions and elite schools can flourish, the rich do send their children where they wd get a first class education anyway! rated but with a really sad heart.

O yes, how many of our Noel Laureates dare to come back and do something you asked, you know if they tried to do anything they would be murdered tomorrow in a seemingly innocent road accident. It is getting worse. I as a woman dont have a choice or a voice. I only have eyes and a mind that is slowly turning numb with struggling every single day.
wd you please delete the first comment that is a dupliate really am sorry I hit the post button accidentally bef I was done.

Everything is wrong in India because our priorities are wrong. Children are thought of as burden. They allow a hundred year old exam system to go on citing example of the few Nobel Laureates saying they did it with this so why cant you, and these Nobel Laureates are too busy revelling in personal glory too happy to have transcended to their personal sphere fo glory and success. People seethe. People care. But there is too much money where power is - simple :)
thanks for doing the post. The Indians who go abroad watch and learn there sometimes want to come back and start somethings but the odds are tremendous, they are hounded out - either repressed totally or forced to leave or they join the crowd, sliding back into bourgeoisie existence. Whats this called - the vicious circle?
Sumatra is magnificent! Lake Toba is the most beautiful, magnificent, amazing, gorgeous, wonderful, exquisite place I have ever visited in my life. Go! Don't wait. The rats aren't that bad. Sumatra is heaven! In every way imaginable!
At least in reference to the first charge, about dumping and pollution, I wonder how what you saw compares to Industrial Revolution cities, which were horrible. Although they didn't have plastics and or diesels to worry about, they did have the belching pollution of the factories, the slaughterhouses, tanneries, and thousands of horses, which not infrequently died in their tracks.

I am also avidly awaiting an explanation from Rolling on the 'ugly potbellied baniya jews.'
Mrs. Michaels, that is something I myself have wondered. But there is a catch: China is in roughly the same situation as India is, actually closer on the path towards Dickensian England, than India is and yet it is less filthy. Many other developing countries in the world are right where India is and they too are not nearly as filthy. So I am inclined to think that historical analogy is not quite accurate, if compelling.
In all my travels, Sumatra remains one of my best memories. Lake Toba is incredible, but so is much of the rest of the island. It's quite different than the rest of Indonesia.
i was in US for a year in TN.If i have a closed mind like u, i can say the south is rascist , white idiots who cant point US in a map.So i can understand ur perception with ur peanut brain size who boasts with an ego i have been there seen there 50 countries,know all end all kind of guy.why dont u got to iraq
i have never seen one of the most illiterate traveller who boasts he has seen the world and cant see life through chaos.why dont you travel assembly lines of car industry when you travel abroad .I have never seen a guy who cant lose its ego who claims he has travelled so far and i think a blind can travel wise than u do
When i read your "reflections" on your visit to India, it is not a sense of anger that shifts unsettlingly in my stomach, it is however, a sense of sadness. With all the literary flair of a fifth grader, you have embarked on a one and a half page account of a country that has over two thousand different dialects and a culture that is often studied for years at a stretch.
Your attempt at a formal and critical tone is brought to its feeble knees with its smattering of monosyllabic adjectives and lowly witticisms, only amplified by your utter ignorance, or shall we refer to it as neglect rather, with regards to what exactly is sought after by those who have traveled there and found it to be a world in its own.
However, i am not here to attempt to list the countless facets of India, for i am not qualified nor am i experienced enough to provide such conjecture. All i can see when i read your "reflections" is someone who has traveled to a country, and not really absorbed anything. You've visited 50 countries; if your take on them is as concise as this, well then, i really have very little to say, did you stay in your hotel the whole time?
Your views are not only factually incorrect, they lack backing (verbal) and are misleading. Everything about your tone suggests to me someone who hasn't the education nor the intellect to be able to summarize a country with over five thousand years of history. Not only do you make yourself look like a high school dropout your article doesn't even have anything to do with the real aim of traveling. Wait, why am i typing all this out, i laughed when your read your last sentence: its not even a sentence grammatically.
People like you give me confidence...alas.
Sad, but true. That would be my first comment on your write up. However, you are defenitly mistaken about the no one cares in India. We do. We most defenitely do. The problem seems to be in the magnitude. It seems overwhelming to one.The beaurocracy and red tapism is too much to handle. The population too much!! Not that these are excuses.For the most part we are trying to survive. No one has the time to spend to tackle these issues, even if one wants to. We need to educate the people, not education in schools etc, but to eductae the people about the need not to pollute, not to be corrupt, not to judge others on the basis of caste, etc. The task seems to be too much. When there is so much population no one has the time to be courteous to the next person. This I have seen even in Canada. At the train station at rush hours, no one seems to be waiting for the next person or seems to avoid pushing. Although it will done in a sublte manner.So I think the huge population seems to be the main problem. All of the above are not excuses, simply facts. When you live in the west, it is easy to say all this.Everything seems so easy, doesn't it? Not so in India. It is a struggle to exist. But I'd like to think that we are trying. And again, don't for a moment think no one cares.We do...its just that we don't know where to start the business of changing.
Hey Sean..
awesome blog - completely on target...
But I am surprised you missed out on another huge issue - religion!
I am moved by this post and thus I went through the pains of registration and actually using my real name :-)

Yes, I am a very proud Indian and extremely biased - even though I have spent last 8 years in US/UK.

At the time of independence, Britishers asked Gandhi when they were leaving - Do you think India will survive for even a day without Brits?

60 years on, we have gone from financially/militarily/socially/politically bankrupt nation to the one with modest numbers to talk about in all verticals against all odds.

US/UK had roughly 3 centuries of continuous progress without any major occupation / someone draining their resources and now, they have reached a point where traffic/infrastructure/corruption/government services are in control and in order. At the same time, they have become bankrupt in cultural values. They care more about peace/local church community/cleanliness in neighborhood than in their houses + maintaining their family relationships.

Give India more time and it will be better - and, I am pretty sure this will happen in my lifetime.

I am not ignoring that 40% of population lives under poverty line and population is out of control or infrastructure needs to be massively improved - but all of them are extremely massive opportunities in themselves.

I look forward to India's bright future !!! and if you want a healthy debate - google my name and you will find me.
It feels like you have traveled the streets of the metros and quickly found the need to vomit an article.
This article is the product of superficial impressions, lack of understanding of the problems in a developing nation, high-handed, and a lack of respect for what India has achieved in 60 years. So what if you have traveled, does not make you wiser (especially, if one judges the writer just from this article). I am not sure why people who will not and dont want to help in process of development find a need to comment on whats happening.

Why not Kerala? Its one of the most corrupted states where progress has been slow for the past 20 years (as compared to Bangalore or Chennai) and is suppressed due to a strong communist influence. And what was the caste comment about? Does you know that close to 60-70 % of Delhi's garbage-collectors and toilet-cleaners are brahmins (the so-called upper castes)? Ethiopia and India??? I dont even have a response to that.

Some of the habits you have pointed out are true, a lot of Indians have not been able to afford education, what is your excuse for a lack of perception? Which country has not suffered from the lack of education? All countries did go through a development phase, and thats whats happening in India. I believe you are from the US? Well, do we need to see what the US did to people of color even thirty years ago, or do we need to see what the super-christians' opinion of other religions are, even in this age and time? And because of that, does the spectacular example that US sets as a country of open-ness and broadmindedness diminish? These (the negative aspects) are just different facets to a country, what makes an impression on you really depends on how yo want to see it. And for the most part, I think its my primal duty to shut up and mind my own business if I am not helping. You want to travel in India, so be a traveler- why poke your nose into things that dont concern you and you mostly dont understand.

If you really want to know India or want someone to educate you about it or even debate about why you are just plain wrong-- write to me. "Loving advice from a friend" ???!! what was that about?
Let me admit: I liked your post! And I am an Indian, living in India!

But none of of this is news to anyone in India. So maybe it was targeted for people who have never been here.

However, as someone who has traveled to almost 20 countries in as many years, I can also say this: You give me a country, and I can write a similar 'reflection' about it, Austin, Texas, United States, included! What you have written is not wrong, but you go looking for filth, you will find it almost anywhere. Even in Antartica! All you need to do is narrow your vision sufficiently! :-)

Secondly, the filth you saw was probably the least worrying. It can be seen and smelt, and hence can be tackled. What about the filth in society? What about Poverty? (Errr... I am sure that word would be known to you!). What about child abuse? Drugs? Guns and organized crime? Criminalization of Politics? That is the filth I worry about. I think your focus on the good and bad is very superficial; else you would not have made the silly mistake of comparing Ethiopia and India. One country lives on world aid, the other supplies the world with Engineers and Doctors.

Let me ask you this: During your entire trip to India, how many places did you feel 'unsafe'? I have had that feeling in some of the most 'developed' countries and cities in the world. To me, that is the filth that one needs to worry about and 'reflect' upon.

But of all things, I fully agree with one sentence of yours: The people who are well off don't care, and people who are not, don't know any better. That, is the sadest part of it, and I belong to the guilty class. Something to mull over for me.

Keep writing!

Did you know that There exists a website for making Train Reservations? It is http://irctc.co.in.There looking up Station codes does not take 30 minutes.
Also there is a Tatkal scheme that for a fee, allows you to book tickets 72 hours before departure. So yes, the situation at the railway terminal may be as you have described but there are ways to circumvent it and do it the right way.
I am an Indian living in the US for the past 10 years. I have been to Europe and Canda; transited through Singapore, Hongkong Bangkok; and now, before somebody says
that I am boasting about where I have been..forget it...almost every tom, dick & harry travels all over the world now so it is no big deal.

I completely agree with you on the article and it is not one bit superficial. Truth often hits you hard in the face and what you have stated is the truth.
People who have reacted angrily to your posts and saying your report is superficial and that you are boasting of having travelled all over the world are simply
living in denial and are acting defensively.

One of the comments..I think by shripad...talks about looking for filth and we could find it even in Austin, Texas; well, I think that is a very negative and pointless
counter argument to cover up the facts; that way we can find fault with everything and everyone. The difference is, in most nations we would need to go
looking for filth&garbage and it would be harder to find. Whereas in India you would need to go looking for -
- clean&long stretches of sidewalk to walk on (in southern India the only place I can think of is the road adjoining Marina beach in Chennai which actually
resembles a stretch of road in some developed country)
- clean water body in cities/towns (not counting the sea) - NONE (since I have left Bangalore 10 years ago though I believe that has changed in Bangalore at least..with "ONE" waterbody being reclaimed and being fixed)

To be fair in my praise&criticism though, you have missed out ONE positive thing about India - the emphasis on education placed by families accross all strata of society (rich, poor, super rich, middle class) - this is a no brainer
and perhaps explains why I am here in the US in the first place and why you see Indians in a wide variety of fields accross the globe. You would have also
noticed Indians heading firms like Master Card(Ajay Banga), Citigroup(Vikram Pandit), Pepsico(Indira Nooyi)......the list goes on. All this inspite of the constraints in a developing nation and despite the
fact that western countries have superior "hard" infrastructure like good school buildings, electricity in schools etc. What I have seen lacking in America
is a lack of emphasis on education at the family level and lack of hard work by the students. I would call this as India's single biggest achievement in the
past 60 years and this was possible only because of resolve&grit plus it(a good education) was a priority for most people.

In my opinion quite a few things about the country and what it has to offer can be judged by a visitor using quite a few simple parameters -

- the airports (once upon a time these were awful relics..but that is changing in India and Delhi's T3 is going to be far better than awful JFK/LAX airport terminals)
- transportation from the airport
- interaction with the various folks (do they cheat/hound you),
- how organized it is(is there something called a shuttle transportation system),
- how organized the roads are and how the drives behave (India is nothing short of an ever worsening unruly jungle)
- infrastructure available for private transport OR public transport whichever to choose. India has failed miserably on both fronts, but, public transportation is changing though
with good metro systems coming up in Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai - the best part being that all of these cities are thinking of having rail links to their airports.
One thing to note about people ranting off about how Europe and America have damaged the environment...India is nothing short of doing that now with exlpding vehicular population.
In fact rather than blaming, India could have improvised on the mistakes of Western countries and come out with a freeway/Interstate system for exclusive use of high occupancy vehicles/buses
thereby transporting people en masse to solve the traffic problems. I have written a detailed article about this in a public forum for anybody who may be instersted in this. Just ask
and I will share it.

- last but not the least availabily of good, safe pedestrian infrastructure. It is sad that in the 2nd most populous country (India) with perhaps the greatest
number of pedestrians on earth (other than China), infrastructure of pedestrians in NON EXISTENT save for a few stretches here and there.
In contrast, this is one striking aspect i noticed when I travelled to US, Canada and UK - goog quality of sidewalks, xebra crossings etc., i even measured the
height of sidewalks in these countries and they were pretty close. In India I have seen the few footpaths/sidewalks that are there to be of varying heights in varying
degrees of disrepair; some of them are foot high (wonder who designed these? supposedly in a land that supplies engineers to the world)

Sean, all the problems that you mentioned in your article and the problem that I highlighted boil down to a very few basic things

- Pople don't care and it is not a priority.
- In India nothing has a system, a system cannot be laid down and it cannot be enforced/followed. By system I am referring to..let's say..for garbage disposal, a congestion relieving system
like the metering system they have in the US for freeway ramps; a real estate system - as a foreigner i am able to buy a house with ease in the US for example since it has a standard system
that is foollowed/enforced and you know what to excpect; but in India it is chaos like anything else and a nightmare. The other system/standard operating procedure I can think of
is bio hazard/waste material disposal in hospitals - this is quite unheard/not followed in most hospitals accross India whereas in the developed nations it is mostly followed with of course
hostpitals few and far between falling out of line which in due course would be shut down which most importantly brings be to the next topic, so read on;but i would like to end the "system"
comment with the statement that the only thing that has a system is "corruption" in India. You can almost get anything done if you know the system in and out of whom to bribe.
- LAW ENFORCEMENT. This is the curcial aspect which differentiates countries into leagues and is the root cause of most problems in India,
be it disappeance of water bodies; be it bad town/urban planning; be it stealing of electicity; be it lack of sidewalks which were built shabily due to lack of enforcement of standards etc.
Immature. He just got into the system in the middle and is complaining. He needs to know something about scalability, economics, education etc to get a broader perspective. Let us see how any country will handle 400 million uneducated people with no money, 500 religions/languages, scant natural resources getting independence 60 years back after going thru 2000 years of constant plundering ? What will be the psyche of the people ? Do you guys know that 20 years back the country was officially bankrupt ? I have seen New York/LA/Houston function, seen concerts in the US, and trade fairs where when the scale gets big, the same problems show up. Now let us increase that scale by a factor of 100 and give them 1/3rd the resources and let us see which country will work well. And please do not compare China with India. If India had a dictatorship, the US would be in war with us for human rights crap.
I am amazed at the sheer shallowness of the writer in this post. I wonder if you were looking for cleanliness, gardens, infrastructure and landscapes why didn’t you go to Switzerland. Are you that naive that landed up in INDIA? How did you not know this before you travelled to India? My American cousin who is 5 years old will possibly write the same thing as you did, about India because they understand only what they see, smell and hear just like you. It amazes me how most of you westerners live in a bubble, and whenever you see anything beyond what you have seen in life your bubble bursts. Even though you claim to have traveled in about 50 counties, I feel, besides probably seeing the architecture, gardens and getting drunk at random bars, you truly have not learned anything. And neither has it helped you to become any better and what you have probably been your whole life. It angers me to see how shallow and closed minded you are.
I stay in United States of America. I have traveled to as many as 10 countries, and never have I been enthralled by their cleanliness and infrastructure. I learn about their culture, their way of living, the beauty in their country. And beauty doesn’t come from clean roads. I have been in USA for 8 months and I have already seen people point guns at each other, I have seen dirt, I have seen low characters, I have seen inhibition, I have rudeness, I have inhospitality, I have seen arrogance, I have seen corruption, I have seen racism, I have seen shallowness, I have seen a bunch of irrelevant rules and a lot more. And, I have been scared to walk in streets of New York, Philadelphia and other places alone in the afternoon. What makes a country are its people’s character, religion, history, depth, knowledge, kindness, hospitality, culture, feelings and people and not how clean a country is?
The post by Padi Srini hit right at the spot, how will your country deal with 1 billion people? You are live in the best comforts of life and yet how many of you graduate high school. You are bunch of disrespectful losers, and all you do is point fingers at other developing economies. 60% of your population is immigrants and where would your country be if it wasn’t for immigrants? What has USA achieved on its own – just arrogance? We are a developing country and we have developed immensely in the last 30 years, what has happened to your country? In USA people have cars and no money to buy gas; I have seen people taking buses for days because they cannot afford trains. You guys are becoming so poor that Wal-Mart is growing by each hour, you live on Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart exists because of us. You guys cannot afford anything made in your own country that is why you were worst hit by recession. India is one of the few counties who is almost self-sufficient, and that is why recession barely hit us. We are a democratic country made up of extremely emotional people we would take a bullet for people we love, we love with our hearts, we hate with our hearts, we commit with are hearts and we learn with our hearts. You are right your post is not only rude, pointless and stupid but it’s solely supports my description of a perfect American!
Comments are pretty harsh, but true. Its like holding up the mirror to an ogre or the child telling the emperor has no clothes!!
But being Indian i'm still optimistic as has shown by apple that people have the ability to change and modify things to make them better. The degradation today is a result of disengagement of the people from the political process, and the politicians themselves disengaged from the identity of India and are preoccupied with grabbing what they can when they have a chance...
Hopefully this post holds up the mirror to the collective conscious of Indians for them to realize and change things for the better, and it would happen later than never!!
"Everything about your tone suggests to me someone who hasn't the education nor the intellect to be able to summarize a country with over five thousand years of history. Not only do you make yourself look like a high school dropout your article doesn't even have anything to do with the real aim of traveling. Wait, why am i typing all this out, i laughed when your read your last sentence: its not even a sentence grammatically.
People like you give me confidence...alas." Kudos RC........... This man indeed is a high school dropout making living out of his command of writing raw English, the only language he knows .might be jealous of well to do Indians living next door in States, and his inability to find a decent job other than of a gas station attendants , most of these people see only filth in India, Like Danny Boyle , ...... but there are lot of people out there who are inspired by India...here a another guy who says India is his favorite destination out of 120 countries he visited ..........http://www.wanderingearl.com/wandering-earl-india-tour-2012/
Well a good article overall, but have my own reservations on the issues you had raised. Also some points way off the mark.

Regarding the filth and pollution, agree with you 100%, its like we believe that we have a God given right to make every part of the place dirty, except our own sweet home.

Again regarding roads, not sure where you had travelled, but most of the national highways are pretty good, thanks to the Golden Quadrilateral scheme. I still remember travelling to my Grandma's place way back in the 70's-80's from my home town, hardly a distance of 150 km, used to take 3 hrs, in a smelly, rickety, bus, spewing fumes. Now thanks to the GQ scheme, you get to make the travel in not more than 1.5 hrs. Again while the national highways are good, the interior roads are awful, and the less said about the city roads the better.

"To get a SIM card for one's phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service"

Err where exactly, I been in around 6 cities in the last 12 yrs, and all I had to do was fill up a form, and the connection would c0me soon. Yes the customer service is still pathetic, but you have a good number of private mobile networks, and getting a mobile connection is least of the problems.

" Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India"

It has been close to 5-6 years since I actually stood in a queue to book my railway tickets, there is something called IRCTC.com, where you can book your tickets online. Yes the Tatkal is a pain, but then its a demand supply equation, Indian Railways is not able to keep up with the increasing demand. And that is another topic altogether. But booking rail tickets is not an ordeal that it was, last 5-6 years I generally do it online.

"I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don't think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem"

Gross generalization, I could also conclude that America is a land of junk food eating, gun loving rednecks, who think nothing of shooting people just for fun. There are a whole lot of people, groups, organizations all trying to do their bit for the country. And that to me is what keeps the nation going. Trust me, if the people here were really so indifferent, we would have gone under long time ago.