Expat@Large

India – Reality Check

Posted in books, economics, India, politics by expatatlarge on December 16, 2009

If you want to find out about the shaky lower storeys upon which India’s skyscraping supposed economic boom is built —

More about Listening to Grasshoppers.
Listening to Grasshoppers

Even if you don’t, it’s still a sobering (shocking even) look at how that sacred cow (ha ha) of Globalisation, the word ‘Democracy’, can hide a multitude of sins… and crimes.

The discussion in these essays, while specifically about how India’s various warring religions, sects and tribal/racial groups are able to commit atrocities and gloss them over afterwards with ‘an election’, thus soothing international concerns, speaks of lessons not learned that could be applicable pretty much everywhere in the developing world; don’t be corrupt, don’t hate those you falsely see as Others, don’t rape (gang-rape), pillage (historical sites) and burn (people), even if you can easily get away with these crimes against humanity, don’t think elections are the panacea they are promoted to be by the globalisation buffos.

Democracy = two lions and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner.

The lions have to be caged.

For example, despite (or because of) the alleged boom, the disparity of incomes in India has actually increased in recent years, and that is not only because of the obscenity of two of the world’s 10 richest men being Indian, are shooting the top level so high, but also because the poor really are getting poorer and less well fed.

They have less access to grains and cereals available than they had in the Second World War. As those lions of industry Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal dine on fine lamb cutlets in their private jets, “Forty seven per cent of India’s children below three suffer from malnutrition… an average family eats about one hundred kilograms less food in a year than it did in the early 1990s.” (Roy, p31.)

I’ve spoken about the Indian famine in Goa before, when million of tonnes of grain were in trains passing by the starving farmers who had grown it all, bound for the profitable markets of Europe and England. In the current situation, that grain is actually destined to feed livestock, which are more important than humans it seems.

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However, what are you going to replace democracy with? A benign dictatorship?

NNNNOOOOoooooooo…! Scary!

E@L

Back Online – White Tiger

Posted in crash, imac, India, literature by expatatlarge on November 9, 2008

The iMac has been reformatted and lots of stuff reloaded. iPhoto still crashes, but what the fuck. I’ll BitTorrent Aperture at some stage.

Sort of missed today. Was it nice outside? Loading stuff, downloading movies – watched Cloverfield (good idea, Godzilla meets Before Sunset), Tropic Thunder (hilarious!) – and I finished “White Tiger”, Aravand Ariga’a Booker Prize winner.

Hands up if you think this is another magic-realism Merchant-Ivory-Rushdie romance? WRONG!

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Think of this shoe shop…

Then think of one of the guys under the table working to make those shoes.

I’m going to ask you to stretch your imagination – to Aravind Adiga’s lengths. Imagine that one of these shoemakers has written a novel about how he extricates himself from such an impossibly exploitative situation and made it as “an entrepreneur” in Bangalore.

White Tiger is not about a shoemaker of course, I just happen to have these pics, but rather, it ‘written’ by a tea-maker, a clever young boy in “the Darkness” of the slum world of northern India. Balram Halwai (called Munna, “boy”, until a name is needed at school) eventually eavesdrops his way of this, using information he picks up by being practically invisible to the other wealthier classes, to become the driver for a rich family. Here in “the Light” of the rich world, his sense of injustice grows until he commits a horrific crime in order “not to end up in a mound of indistinguishable bodies that will rot in the black mud of Mother Ganga.” It is the only way he can see to get out – a line of poetry echoes in his mind, ironically it is the only poem he knows: ““you were looking for the key for years, but the door was always open.

The conversational tone (I say it is ‘written’ not narrated, because the format is that of an extended letter to Chinese Premier Wen Jiaboa!) is captivating and easy to read but the themes and the reality depicted are extremely hard-hitting (or least would be if you thought India was all shagging the sadhus at the 5-star ashram, lovely colored saris and smoking good pot in Goa).

This is about the India that flashes past the tinted window of your Mercedes limousine, it’s about the India I see in the clinics and hospitals. Desperately poor people chronically trapped by corruption that runs so deep it has become the supportive skeleton of the country. All I have seen improve in 10 years that I have been going there is the quality of the rich people’s cars.

“…no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality…”

But it does have entrepreneurs… and democracy!

And murderers.

And great novelists.

E@L