Postcard from India

A nice little postcard from a Western traveler to India appeared in the comments the other day. Here it is:
I spent a couple weeks in India 4 years ago and I completely agree with this post. The day I arrived I caught something (Delhi Belly) after drinking a fruit & ice blended drink and I was sick for a month. Guess why? Because there’s shit in the water they make ice out of.
The cities smelled like shit, especially the areas where the fishermen lived. I nicknamed the harbor in Mumbai, which is called the Queen’s Necklace by locals, the Queen’s Toilet. The water was brown because it’s probably full of shit. Many buildings were literally crumbling with holes in the floor, but it was all normal to them.
Whenever I meet an Indian hyping up the country and how it’s going to be the next China, I either point out that it’ll take a long long LONG time to make progress in that country, or I just politely agree because there’s no use arguing with someone who’s delusional and going to take your comments personally.
My opinion as an educated man with many friends in the class of top 1% richest Indians, the country won’t get better until:
1. Seriously fights & punishes corruption and bribery (many friends’ families use government connections to gain advantages over business rivals and especially foreign investors/businesses, the rich also tout their position, net worth, and bureaucratic friends to threaten cops or other officials who would dare punish them for violating laws).
2. Invests in infrastructure – build sewers, clean the water, increases the building safety code and regulations.
3. Increases public education (many people lack analytical skills, the lower class basically has a slave mentality).
4. Put some of the many homeless to work cleaning up the streets – there’s too much garbage everywhere.

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52 thoughts on “Postcard from India”

    1. No Kidding! And in 1949, the two countries were exactly the same. Which to me indicates either that the Chinese model is superior or that Chinese culture is superior.
      Steve, you were mentioning that the water was pretty clean there, and that’s one reason I ran this post. Judging by the guy’s Delhi Belly, I guess that might not be so.

      1. Not 1949, the GDP of India and China was identical in 1978, that is actually the year China started it is economic reform under Deng Xiao Ping.
        As of year 2012, China’s GDP is just about 4 times larger than that of India’s….. but since India is a democracy, I guess they will catch up anytime now. Just go ahead ask any Indian.

        1. If you go by 1949, not just GDP but almost all other developmental figures were the same between the two countries, including life expectancy.
          Even in 1978, Chinese were much better off than Indians.

        2. yeah that’s what happened after the economic reforms. thanks for the graph. Strapped on a rocket path is a great way to put it. They unleashed a great deal of energy and intelligence.

      2. “Judging by the guy’s Delhi Belly, I guess that might not be so.”
        I think Delhi belly is a case of traveler’s diarrhea, which 20-50% of international travellers get annually. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/travelersdiarrhea_g.htm
        “Infectious agents are the primary cause of travelers’ diarrhea. Bacterial enteropathogens cause approximately 80% of cases. Viruses and protozoans account for most of the rest”
        “Travelers often get diarrhea from eating and drinking foods and beverages that have no adverse effects on local residents”
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveler's_diarrhea#cite_note-CDC_TD-1
        Other popular colloquialisms are ‘mummy tummy’ in Egypt and ‘Aztec two step’ or ‘Montezuma’s revenge’ in Mexico.
        I believe UNICEF because I trust UN data (wrong?). This is what it says about the source of that info:
        “Use of improved drinking water sources and adequate sanitation facilities – UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS)”
        I will say this though. I think there is probably plenty of shitty water in India, like the rivers that people bathe in, or places where they wash their clothes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if water born diseases were common.
        “And in 1949, the two countries were exactly the same. Which to me indicates either that the Chinese model is superior or that Chinese culture is superior.”
        While I do see the Chinese communist party as being competent leaders in my lifetime (unlike western leaders), I would go with a mixture of Chinese culture and Chinese IQ. I would have more faith in the Chinese with capitalism than Indians with communism. Wouldn’t you?
        However, while I’m not in the business of advocating communist dictatorships or dictatorships of any kind, I can see how a hypothetical benevolent dictator could benefit India. This is what I would do:
        – declare corruption to be selfish and unpatriotic and against the interests of the community as a whole; declare it to be one of the main things holding the country back, and therefore punish it harshly and make a serious attempt to eradicate it as much as possible. I would try to do this first with harsh fines and public shame, then imprisonment rather than execution (maybe I’m too soft to be a dictator). You could even develop a dedicated, elite police unit that fights corruption because ordinary police might themselves be corrupt.
        – public indoctrination (de-indoctrination?) against caste backed up by serious attempt to enforce the law, but I would allow the religion generally. Those villages you saw on the caste documentary, I’d have travelling educators* going to them and giving classes on the evils and nonsense of their behaviour. There could be local party officials all over the country, like the Chinese have, monitoring this kind of thing and being the point of contact with the locals for the ‘party’.
        – control emigration like the Chinese so that not too many rural people move to the cities and create slums…I would have people applying for licences to move to a city. If there is no room except in a slum, they can’t go.
        – make sure teachers do their jobs and turn up every day.
        – massive government effort to bring the basics of life to everybody- enough good food and toilets as a matter of priority.
        – have lots of people working to keep the streets clean, even if it can only be done by paying homeless people a minimum wage or feeding them. (I would honour them for their contribution to society and try to change attitudes about littering).
        – economically, I would adopt a model similar to the one the Chinese have now. It would basically have a large public sector but allow private enterprise. It would also ensure universal health provision, one way or another.
        – Probably make friends with the Chinese and allow them to invest and contribute to development and infrastructure.
        -oh yeah, obviously one has to try to improve infrastructure.
        *I’d employ these travelling educators more generally for things like how to keep a child nourished and why not to shit in the street.
        If I was a democratically elected leader, I would try to implement as much of this as possible. I don’t see what quite a bit of this couldn’t be done with more competent democratic leadership.

      3. “Which to me indicates either that the Chinese model is superior or that Chinese culture is superior.”
        It’s both and more. Culturally speaking, the Chinese are more industrious, more meritocratic, more egalitarian, more practical, more disciplined, and more secular. The Chinese articulate a vision, set goals, and then go about achieving them relentlessly. The Indians make idle boasts and delusional forecasts and then vegetate: no one seemed to have taught them that the cart shouldn’t come before the horse.
        For China, the erstwhile Maoist system, while monstrously flawed, secured an economic foundation by vastly improving nutrition, numeracy, literacy, healthcare, and advancing women’s rights. Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms would not have succeeded without the aforementioned accomplishments serving as a steppingstone. India, on the other hand, is just fucked up, OK? Just straight up FUBAR. It’s still plagued by the caste system and mired in sexism. After some 60 years of self-rule, India still hasn’t managed the basics: 58% of Indian children suffer from malnutrition; 20% of Indians go hungry everyday; functional literacy rate is around a pathetic 50%; 1/3 of the population have no access to electricity; 1/3 of the country is controlled by various insurgencies, etc. With such atrocious fundamentals, all the Hindutva drivel about India Rising and India Shining will remain just that, drivel.
        Whereas Chinese leaders are selected primarily based on merit and qualifications, Indian politics is largely a family affair (e.g. the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty) in which performance is irrelevant but blood ties all important. Despite the much ballyhooed Indian “democracy”, the Chinese system is far more accountable and responsive. Case in point, when the emergency management system was deemed deficient during the recent flood in Beijing, the mayor was fired; when Bangalore experiences annual floods, the local honchos are re-elected, repeatedly, by promising handouts to largely poor and illiterate vote banks.
        The Chinese know what they want: to get rich and to reclaim their former position as the hegemon. They are open to adopt whatever systems or methods that can propel them there: this is the essence of Deng’s motto that it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long it catches mice. The Indians, by contrast, have never articulated a collective vision and are therefore content with a hodgepodge of caste-based feudalism, socialist license raj, and neoliberal excesses: a little something to appease every constituency and ideological group.
        And just to miff the Hindutvas and PC banshees, let me close by pointing out that Chinese are generally more intelligent and have a much tougher mental constitution, which undoubtedly contribute to their superior performance vis-a-vis the Indians.
        P.S. For those of you interested in enlightening cross-cultural comparisons between India and China, read Mr. Navneet Bakshi’s blog. Mr. Bakshi is an Indian who had lived and worked in China long-term. He endears with his brutal honesty and incisive observations. URL: http://poetrybynavneet.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm

        1. “the erstwhile Maoist system, while monstrously flawed, secured an economic foundation by vastly improving nutrition, numeracy, literacy, healthcare, and advancing women’s rights. Deng Xiaoping’s post-Mao reforms would not have succeeded without the aforementioned accomplishments serving as a steppingstone.”
          Another important foundation laid by Mao was national unity and an authoritarian power structure, which was put to better use by Deng. I think we can agree that Mao’s rule was both monstrously flawed and foundational to modern China and its development.
          While I do think that China would have developed under a capitalist system, its questionable whether unity would have been maintained any other way. There was so much disunity, chaos and violence in the period before. China’s long history shows why unity is such an high value to the Chinese.
          I will check out your website. You write well and insightfully about China. Thanks.

        2. sorry, its jack’s website. Thought you were both the same person for a while there, although I noticed your English is a bit better. You both write well about China.

    2. Do remember that craze where you had economists and analysts predicting that it was BOTH China and Indian’s generation?

      1. Economists (at the IMF or WB I think) are still predicting that India will overtake America by GDP around 2050. India is growing at quite a high rate I think, but has a long way to go. Right now, India is a country of over a billion people with an economy quite a bit smaller than Italy’s :-O

        1. although there is a lot of economic activity in India that isn’t taxed or registered…for example, the big slum Dharavi has an estimated 5000 businesses and 15,000 single room factories.
          I think the high employment is a big factor in the relatively low street crime rate in Dharavi.

        2. I though it was the highly superstitious nature of Indians that mainly kept crime in check?
          Of course, keeping busy does play a role in limiting time for criminal activities.

        3. If by superstitious, you mean their belief in karma, maybe. I do think most of the young men in a community using up most of their energy in productive activities has got to reduce crime.

      2. India’s GDP higher than America’s by 2050? Plausible. However, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. This generation is mainly China’s. Those economists initially set it up as if there was a close race between China and India when in actuality there was never a race.
        I thought they were crazy from the get go.

        1. Yeah. Like I said earlier, China are in a different class. China is looking more and more like a developed country all the time. India is still firmly in the third world- an enormous population of mostly poor people.

        2. Tell that your average Indian. Just because the country has a space program and nuclear weapons, they think it’s something else other than a third-world country. It’s as if all those poor people don’t exist.

        3. lol I’ve been reading that guys blog, and although you might agree with his forceful argument that India is a filthy third world country, you wont agree with much else he says. He is a libertarian free marketeer and a race denier. I left a comment about Lewontin’s fallacy.

        4. I won’t call China a developed country, what I think is that China is a mixed nation, they have over a dozen world class cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, Guangzhao etc.. which is on par with the best of the world such as New York City, Tokyo etc…
          But at the same time, they still have over half of their population live in the rural areas. What they are trying to do is that for the next decade, they are going to start a massive campaign of urbanization, they are going to try go move hundreds of million of people from rural areas into the city.
          That is why you are seeing them building roads and infrastructure like there is no tomorrow.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expressways_of_China#Historical_development_of_expressway_length_in_Mainland_China
          Take a look at this chart, they now have longer high way system then United States already… That is pretty amazing, before I left China they only had about 2,000 km of high way, now they have 85,000 km… however the roads unfortunately are not free, vast majority of them are toll roads. Maybe that is how they can keep it funded and maintained.
          Many people says that China is facing a real estate debt bubble like we had in 2004, because they lend out maybe trillions to build apartments which are standing empty. What they don’t realize is that those are not bad debts, those are constructions costs, sooner or later the banks are going to write them off, and the bank themselves are state owned anyways.
          This is what happens when state capitalism is actually being used for the benefit of the people.
          I am sicked and tired of seeing stupid fellow American bashing on China, I mean they are not even doing it right, so I have made a website that try to debunk many of the myth that people have about China. I am not one of the those Chinese supremacist, I recognize there are MANY problem China faces and it is far from perfect, so I am compiling a site that try to give a balanced view.
          http://debunkchina.com/

          1. A socialist country and all the roads are toll roads!? WTF sort of crap is that? I live in the most anti-socialist country on Earth, and almost 100% of the roads are free. Can’t they figure out any other way to fund the roads other than TOLL ROADS?
            Many people says that China is facing a real estate debt bubble like we had in 2004, because they lend out maybe trillions to build apartments which are standing empty. What they don’t realize is that those are not bad debts, those are constructions costs, sooner or later the banks are going to write them off, and the bank themselves are state owned anyways.
            This is what happens when state capitalism is actually being used for the benefit of the people.

            This is why I continue to call China a socialist country.

        5. For balance, check out this diagram:
          http://euro2012leaderboard.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/indian-incomes/
          (This link is to a blog I set up for a competition I was co-running, so that explains the strange name and the fact it is the only post there.)
          That’s what I’m talking about.
          From this report:
          http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/mgi/research/asia/the_bird_of_gold
          I like Mckinsey because they have the most conservative estimate of the Indian middle class I can find. The World bank and the Indian government both vastly over-estimate the middle class with slightly ridiculous definitions that blatantly includes poor people. If you ask me.

        6. Atheist Indian,
          If you see this, can you tell me if that is a reasonable definition of middle class. See diagram in link. I don’t know Indian currency at all.

        7. well yes, most of the express ways are toll roads, but it is not that bad. Because when you think of freeway, you think of Los Angeles, where you go from one part of the city to another on the 101, 405 etc… In China, the city are not spread out like our suburbs with endless houses. Most people live in tall apartments buildings and they can easily get around on bikes or buses or subway. Oh yeah there is another thing, public transportation in Chinese cities are extremely developed, on a busy day, you would have a bus arriving at each bus stop every 7 minutes or so.
          So people are not stuck where they are if they don’t have cars, so the means they don’t have to use the express way all the time. And yes, there are express ways in the cities that circles it and cut across it, and guess what? They FREE.
          The toll road I am talking about is if you were to driving from one city to another, and there is nothing but farms and wilderness in between, then you have to pay a fee. As a result those high way never have any traffic.
          Also as I said before, public transpiration is very well developed in China, that also means high speed bullet trains that goes 250km/hour, it is now able to connect to anywhere in the country. And vast majority of people when they do travel, they ride trains. So it is not that bad, don’t use US’s standard to judge them.

        8. As for India’s middle class, the reason they are not developing have directly to do with their economic structure. From my humble observation, most of the nation on earth got rich all have gone through a process of industrial revolution, because working in a factory is the greatest form of income redistribution, because in manufacturing, often wages are the most expensive cost, and the workers themselves often do not need any higher form of education, so the barrier of entry is very low, so they can make enough money to better themselves or their children. I see US, Europe, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan have all gone through this process, and now so is China. After industrialization, then a nation can go ahead and develop a service economy, which in general have much higher pay, but the barrier of entry is a lot higher, because you would need a certain level of education to be able to work in the call center, computer programmer, tax accountant, lawyer etc… This is why I think it is a huge mistake for India to skip industrialization to try to leap from agriculture economy straight to service economy. This would only means the very few who can afford education will get ahead, while those who are stuck in agriculture will stuck there forever, that means the society will eventually have a extreme elite rich class, a few middle class, while vast majority of the population would be stuck in forever poor.
          When Europe was in the process of industrialization, they were not really democratic as you would think today, there was wide abuse of labor, abuse of human right, abuse of woman, abuse of children, abuse of minorities, in fact if you want to take their today’s standard judging China, compare to their own past, it would put China’s current Industrial Revolution’s labor and environmental practice to shame. It is only after those nation got rich, they being to be more considerable of human right issues.

        9. thanks Jack.
          Britain needs to get some factories back! Our industrial base has been declining since the 60’s and in 2010 was responsible for only 8.2% of the workforce and 12% of the national output. That is pretty pitiful, isn’t it? We have a big trade deficit (how is that sustainable?) and need to import a lot of our raw materials and a third of our food. Now our economy is in big trouble and there are all sorts of social problems- a moral decline and crime increase has taken place since the 60’s too. On top of that, our politicians are hopeless and don’t really know what to do.

        10. Even if you look at things like education league tables, Britain is no longer great. There are good reasons why Germany is the most powerful country in the EU- its the most industrialized and populous country and the German’s are meticulous, disciplined and good organizers.

        11. Unless I am wrong! Just found this:
          “the biggest surprise in the Goldman Sachs assessment is that Britain, currently the third largest economy in Europe and sixth in the world, is on course to eclipse Germany and France to become Europe’s largest economy within four decades. According to Goldman Sachs, Britain’s working population is on course to outstrip that in Germany and France by 2050.”
          My my.
          “The HSBC Bank’s The World in 2050 report further predicts that the British rate of economic growth will, as a consequence of its demographic changes, outstrip that of the US, France and Japan, moving the UK back into surplus by 2020.”
          And
          “According to the Goldman Sachs report, the only two more prosperous nations in terms of per capita wealth in 2050 will be the United States and Canada”
          http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm/9962/Fuelling-the-Rise-of-the-Anglosphere
          (Robert, is it against the rules to post an article that has a pro- free market perspective? That’s not the reason I posted it. Its just a source for the quotes if people want to read further.)

        12. (Robert, is it against the rules to post an article that has a pro- free market perspective? That’s not the reason I posted it. Its just a source for the quotes if people want to read further.)
          No, it’s ok, but give us a warning. It’s sickening how much Libertarianism there is on the Internet.

  1. And take a look at our media, how we LOVE to bash on China, on it is human right and corruption, but not one bad word on democratic India. Or the fact that China was able to raise over 600 million people out of poverty.
    We would rather have people vote than have people starve.

  2. @ Steve
    “I would have more faith in the Chinese with capitalism than Indians with communism. Wouldn’t you?”
    Socialism and the Hindu cultural base are pretty much oil to water. I wouldn’t trust Hindus with communism, since it is most likely to turn into an authoritarian faux-socialist rule by the Hindu elites, at the expense of the proletariat. I have three years of intimate experience with desi ‘communists’ to understand their psyche.

    1. I can believe that. In reality, I don’t really want them to have a dictatorship (unless I am the dictator mwahahaha)
      Give me absolute control over every living soul, and lie beside me, baby, that’s an order!
      -Leonard Cohen, the future.

  3. Honestly, China should just go in, demolish India like they did in the 1960’s and annex the damn place. Then colonize and exterminate the Indian parasites and just make it an extension of an Asiatic empire.

    1. @ Xera
      fuck yourself muslim mo’fucker..your prophet’s wet dream will never come true,you want to wipe out my country…instead the jews & indians(stagerring 1.2 billion of them)will wipe out saudi arabia,egypt,pakistan,iran & the filthy deranged satanic race of pedo worshipper religion of islam..

  4. “Whenever I meet an Indian hyping up the country and how it’s going to be the next China, I either point out that it’ll take a long long LONG time to make progress in that country, or I just politely agree because there’s no use arguing with someone who’s delusional and going to take your comments personally.”
    The Indians should be free to bask in China’s reflected glory: any therapy to mend the fragile ego of the Hindutvas should be welcomed on humanitarian grounds.

  5. Wait a minute, let me give you white and yellow pussies a reality check here,
    1. Lead paint on children’s toys, guess where it came from.
    2. Contaminated baby food, guess where it came from. (killed a lot of babies)
    3. Bird flu-guess where it came from. Hint: like HIV came from eating dead chimpanzees, eating of rats,raccoons,bear bile soup, lizards etc… barbaric eating habits of the Han versus humanity I guess.
    4. Where does 68% of the worlds counterfeit antibiotics come from, causing massive loss (patient load)of GDP in Africa.
    5.which country accounts for the majority of illegal organ transplants performed.
    6. Which country is feared by western R&D firms for lack of ethics, intellectual piracy, and a complete lack of innovative thinking. Westerners have specific data and security protocols enforced for travel to this new mecca.
    7. Which country beats all in hawking and spitting on the streets ( with SARS , imagine).
    Yes mofos ,the answer to all the above is China, and you barbaric Han chimp bastards strutting around like you are the epitome of civilisation. What you need is another Japanese invasion and another Nanjing. That way your karmic load on points 1-6 will be atoned for

    1. To Rajat. Lets discuss this, ok?

        1. That has been debunked. So far, no lead paint has been found in children toys.

        2. The guy in charge of the factory was given death penalty for that.

        3. Bird flu came from Vietnam, you stupid Hindu. Fact check before spewing bullshit.

        4. Hmm, Western private pharmaceutical companies might want to know your location.

        5. Which country is doing the same stuff you said to “Kashmiri”?

        6. Western countries did the same as well even during 2 World Wars.

        7. Which country also does the same with spitting and hawking as well?

      Yes, my dear reader. Rajat the streetshitter is just a jealous Hindutva, and here this barbaric Indian cow-fucker is trying to prove that India is the best and the glory of all civilization. What you need is another Muslim conquest and more British subjugation. That way your barbaric way of life with every single Hindu karmic load on points 1-10 will finally be atoned for and cleansed away.

  6. @ Steve
    You are right on the money. According to Indian government figures, the base income that takes a person to the ‘middle class’ bracket would be equivalent to the living standards of impoverished people in the first or second world. If we take more realistic terms to define the middle class in India, in terms of the consumer goods they possess and their standards of living (owning a house, car, access to quality healthcare, etc.), barely 1-2% of Indians would make the cut.
     
    India’s definition of poor is a homeless person who can afford a meal of one potato, two breads and a glass of milk a day.
     
    As for India’s low crime statistics, it is utter bunkum. The slums of Dharavi are among the most dangerous places to live in the country, because of what is known as ‘goonda raj’ (mob rule). If you are not among the rich or well connected, you would be lucky to get a case of violent crime registered by the police, which eventually helps keep the stats looking good. A couple of months back, a female journalist working with a ‘national’ daily beat her maid to death because of a minor ‘offence’. The case didn’t even find its way to police stats, leave alone media attention (which is more interested on covering the ‘issues’ faced by the elites than the masses).

    1. AI,
      It occurred to me that might be the case while I was watching a programme just aired in England where some soap stars went to a ghetto in Kenya. It looked safe there too, like the programme in Dharavi, but I don’t think it is.
      However, at least in the Dharavi programme, a young girl said she would walk through the slum alone at night and nothing would happen to her. What do you think of that?
      Can you give me an idea of what can be bought with 200,000 to 1 million rupees? Mckinsey’s definition of middle class is that is the annual household disposable income. What do you think of that?
      thanks

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