I'm not comparing the poor in India with the affluent in the States, but just pointing out there is great poverty in both countries. I've lived in slums in the Middle East and been homeless in the West. Give me a life in an Indian slum over being homeless in a place like the States any day of the week. If you run out of money in the States and you can't get work or welfare, because you don't have an address, you then have two options - become a prostitute/ rent boy or beg. You can be arrested for either. The worst fear in that situation wasn't being hungry or being attacked - it was of being shot by the police. They are trigger happy and use homeless people as target practice. And there is not very good access to public facilities to wash and use the toilet. The authorities even try to stop the homeless from using facilities in railway stations. Are you seriously suggesting that such an experience is somehow better than living in a slum in India? Even in the tenements in the States, there's still filth and rats. It's much more hidden but it's definitely there.
If you do live in the States, my guess, if you are not American born, is that you emigrated there as a graduate or are studying there, and have a good office job. And also that you have never even so much as set foot in a no go zone. We had a look at cheap flats once to rent, in East LA tenements. It remains one of the most awful, depressing experiences I have ever had. I have never seen despair like that in peoples eyes before or since, and certainly not in India or Bangladesh.
In India, the poverty may be worse, but it's not as isolating. The people seem to cope with poverty somewhat better than Westerners do. My overwhelming impression of India remains the people's humanity, not their poverty.
This thread has certainly proved rather interesting as it's developed. Lostworld, your comments and insights are immensely appreciated - you certainly seem to have the first hand experience that lets you speak honestly about this.. I don't believe anything you say has been wrong or misleading. I'm sure everyone else is also speaking the truth as they know it.
I haven't actually been to India, so can't really compare it to poverty in the States or elsewhere. I have been to a few third world countries though and seen similar things. I think a comparison between western poverty and third world poverty is majorly flawed though. The point being that people in western countries living in poverty are surrounded by opulence and wealth. Those living in slums are often surrounded by other poor people.. It makes a difference to your state of mind and your outlook on life, but doesn't make one worse than the other I think. I have seen a family of five living in a leaking hut that would be smaller than most American's second toilet with one bed to share between them all - and the father was handicapped after having seven gunshot wounds in his leg. This was more the norm than the exception in Albania. Where poverty occurs in America, I don't believe it is anywhere near the amount of poverty in third world countries, where 90% of the population can be living in such dire circumstances.
Deb, I certainly see your point in saying that being illiterate doesn't mean you will be unhappy, but learning how to read and write is one of the keys to breaking out of the vicious cycle of poverty. It is not the thing that makes people unhappy, but it does lead to a lot of things that make people unhappy, like not being able to read the instructions on a medicine bottle or being ripped off after signing some dodgy contract.
Having said that, I wouldn't hesitate to visit India because of the poverty.
Interesting discussion - let's keep it open.
Yes indeed it has. Although some comments have made me respond in frustration, generally this has been a good discussion. I for one enjoy a lively debate and this has certainly lived upto my liking.
I totally agree with you Peter, everyone has their perception and even if we disagree that does not mean we are not being truthful. Every experience adds to your views and reading about the experience of others from their perspective is very enlightening. Keep it going guys
Peter, you make a point that probably points to why people in India cope better with poverty than people in the West, i.e. because they are surrounded by people in similar circumstances as opposed to opulence. Lostworld, to me you seem so star struck by the West that you miss the debilitating effect being homeless or even living in impoverished circumstances, can have on people in the West. There is so much mental illness among the poor, and even not so poor come to that, in the West. Not everything, misery wise, is based on whether you eat out of a rubbish tin or a supermarket. I too have found this thread frustrating, by the way.
I think differing opinions are generally frustrating.. But I love getting into such discussions!
In defense of lostworld, I don't really feel the responses seem 'starstruck' at all - it was more in response to a very rosy view of India than anything to do with the US. He didn't start comparing the two. Why you would even want to compare the two is beyond me.. they are like apples and pears The US have a whole set of problems of their own!!
You make a good point about the amount of mental illness in the poor of the west, Deb. In Melbourne where I live (and I notice you do too ) I understand the vast majority of homeless have mental problems (perhaps caused by their life on the streets, or perhaps the cause for their life on the streets). People often fail to consider that not everyone can just 'get a job' and move on. Even with a pretty reasonable social structure in Australia, there is much poverty. For example, within aboriginal communities, the conditions are often worse than much of the third world and the life expectancy is well below the average.
We certainly need to keep an open view of the countries we live in and threads like this help people consider these things.
Again I agree, I was not making a comparison and infact my whole point is that such a comparison is un realistic and borderline absurd. Honestly the only way to make such a comparison would be for one to experience both scenarios which is impossible. As for calling me "starstruck" that is a clear sign you find my views frustrating so you resort to hitting below the belt. I do that too, its cool. In the last 5 years or so I have lived in various parts of Canada and in VT, and majority of my experiences have been positive but I do very much see the problems here, just dont see how you can compare them and worse yet rank one over the other.
Deb, if you can keep an open mind to the views of others then the frustration might be lessened to an extent. Tolerance is critical.
Peter, Aboriginals in North America are treated badly too and live in poor conditions. It is apalling how there is an under current of denial on their situation. It seems to be me that this denial makes them (society)feel less guilty perhabs. On another note, are you a cricket fan? Melbourne is next !!! Kick Ass
Ah yes, our wonderful Melbourne, for me only for six weeks more, thankyou God. You think the slums of India are bad, Lostworld? Come to Melbourne. Here, in our inner city, there is a vision of hell far worse than any slum. Our very own detention camp. There are worse things in life than poor shelter or lack of food (i.e. like what you would find in Indian slums, duplicated in various other countries). Here, we incarcerate children. Did they pay for their boat trips here? Did they know where their parents were taking them? I doubt they signed up for Australia's peculiar version of hell. These people are neither hungry nor lacking for a roof over their heads. Nevertheless, the guards count the time it takes for people to go out of their minds in days - not weeks, not months, but days. The guards work for an American firm - no self respecting Australian firm would take the job on. They torment the refugees - sport for their sick minds. Workers who complain about their evil ways are forced to resign. Every now and again, New Zealand accepts our refugees, just to try to save one or two families from this never ending hell. Australia, when it finally gets around to it, usually sends them back home, likely as not to their deaths.
Do I think you shouldn't come to Australia to see all the wonderful sights, just because we have created our own version of 21st Century Hell? No, of course not. Most travellers probably wouldn't even know the camps were there, let alone that they are staying less than 7 km from one if they're staying in Melbourne's CBD.
The difference between being a tourist in India and one in Australia is that in India, the more tourists there are, the more chance even, relatively speaking, a few of the people currently without work in slums have of finding work. People in slums may have been there their whole lives, but at least in India the door is open. At least they have a chance, however slim, to get out. And the Indian Government are to some extent literally struggling under the weight of their own humanity. It can't be easy being responsible for the fate of 16% of the people of the earth.
In Australia, no matter how many tourists came, our camps will stay open and full no matter what. We don't consider our detention camps to grant life sentences but rather death sentences to their inmates.
You think, Lostworld, that the Indian government does some things you are not proud of? Hah - try being Australian for a day and tell me how it feels in comparison. I would rather work with the slum dwellers in India one hundred times over than with the poor, broken outcasts spawned by these camps.
Deb, honestly my knowledge of what you are talking about is limited so I am not going to comment but I hope someone from Melbourne like Peter would validate the accuracy of this.
I totally agree that Australia is not the friendliest of countries for immigrants, refugees and aborginals yet they have some how managed to carry on a pretense of being a modern tolerant multi cultural nation, I think their isolation geographically helps. You seem to have been very affected by this but if I may speak for the devil, they have the freedom to return if it is such a hell, I am positive the Australian govt would spare no expense to send them back if they so desire. Again I am not quite sure what exactly it is that you are talking about.
I still believe to make a comparison when you have experienced neither is unrealistic. If indeed there exists a situation such as the one you have described, its despicable to say the least. What have you done to stop this? Have you tried help these people ? Maybe your efforts would be better spent if directed towards helping rather then just being frustrated.
Deb the intention here is not to win an argument nor to make a point, atleast that is not my intention. It is to share thoughts so that we can understand the various perceptions and perspectives that exist. To learn something new and yes to hope that through all this despair we will one day have a better world.
Lots of people try to help them. I've taught some of them the language, but often by the time the authorities let you access them, their minds are pretty much gone, especially the guys. Some of them have tried to suicide in detention. A lot of them left their countries to escape torture and the dreaded security police. Sometimes one of their family is a political activist, so their government goes after the whole family. Or one of their children, male or female, has been pack raped by the security forces. They run to save their lives. Sometimes they have no path back - they were expelled, e.g. Palestinians kicked off their land by the Israelis without compensation. They're like the boat people from the Vietnam war era. Lots of Afghanistanis and Iraqis. Iranian dissidents. Stateless people.
They're a group of people caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they go back, they die. If they stay they go insane. Not much of a choice really, is it? Australia's effort is pretty ordinary considering poorer countries like Portugal have 10 times that number of illegal immigrants arriving in a year and don't feel the need to incarcerate any of them.
Do Australians support having the detention camps? Well, if fairness to Australians, a majority of them didn't actually vote this Government in. Under our electoral system it isn't necessary to get over 50% of the votes to gain power.
What qualifies as tolerant? I was in Mumbai, watching this guy make bread on a kind of upside down wok. I asked him to explain to me how he made it. He couldn't buy his mate a couple of shops away came and translated. Interesting guy and yummy bread. The whole country - well, this bit I saw at least, was like that. You just start nattering to people and they chatter away back. If I went into the back of a bakery in Melbourne and said to the owner 'can you show me how you make your bread?' he'd probably freak out and call the cops.
I know an Indian guy who has an IT degree he received here in Australia. He has a problem getting work, just because he is Indian. People want to pay him peanuts, even though he lives here. He's now got a permanent job after three years of being marginally employed contracting. One day someone told him to "go back to Fiji where he belongs." Never mind he's not from there.
In some parts of Sydney, the Lebanese and Vietnamese have been at war with each other for years. They shoot each other on the streets. We had some Africans move into our street, an outer NE suburb of Melbourne and a couple of the neighbours were whinging that they brought down the tone of the street. Tolerant and multicultural? Yeah, sounds like government propaganda to me. Australia can be pretty racist.
I personally didn't find India racist, just going back to travelling there. Maybe it is. Maybe if I lived there I would notice a parallel set of racist acts directed at whites. Even so, in spite of the lack of quality of life for a great many of India's citizens, and acknowledging your comments that there is a downside to India, I still think it is one of the great travel destinations of the world, as good to visit as either Egypt or France. Aside from the great things to see and do, feeling part of a nation, even temporarily, of 1 billion plus people is a great way to experience the sensation of being a global citizen, of how vast and populated our world really is.
"Incredible India" - India Is Shining ......Come to India to see a glimpse of it. It will be a lifetime experience . For anyhelp you can contact so many your brothers like me and sisters here . They will help you in every possible way . Just visit India .Incredible India. Varanasi, Kerala, Rajasthan , Sikkim, Kashmir , Goa , Mumbai , Simla, Agra , Banglore.....Place of Every Taste .