I recently visited both of these countries, and while there are a lot of cultural similarities, I would certainly like to go back to Nepal...but I will never go to India again!
In Nepal, despite being a poorer country, the people were great...helpful and honest. The country was very beautiful, the food good. The visa charge was inexpensive.
India...there were a few positives... some magnificent monuments, and I met some locals who were lovely people...hospitable and helpful in every way.
The negatives far outweigh the positives.
My time in India was pretty much spoiled by the attitudes of it's residents
There is filth everywhere...people discard rubbish where they use it, and the visual aspect of this doesn't seem to bother them.
The bureaucracy is a real pain...every small transaction seems to generate a pile of journal entries and record keeping that is simply a waste of time for everyone.
Every bill at a hotel or restaurant needs to be checked, as dishonest staff will attempt to cheat you...and when caught out, they are blatantly unashamed by it! Some (not all) hotels are experts at overcharging...be very careful.
Always inspect the hotel room first if you can...some hotels will attempt to charge huge rates for terrible rooms...especially if they know they have you at a disadvantage.
You will be given the runaround in all sorts of situations...logic and common sense just don't apply with these people...with the result that huge amounts of your time is wasted for no useful outcome. You can't argue with them..they will never see your point of view...they don't try.
I suspect that they want you to bribe them in these situations, but I refuse to 'reward' dishonesty and inefficiency!
Lots of people expect to be tipped for poor service (sometimes for no service at all). If they haven't deserved a tip, tell them to 'bugger off'.
Security is everywhere...and while I understand the need for it, they often take it to such extremes in India...fussy as hell about some things, while ignoring others that they should be onto. Many security staff seemed rude and abrupt... a 'power trip' for them, I guess.
Airlines can run 90 minutes behind schedule and not think there should be any problem for passengers as a result.
The visa for India is expensive, and charges for entry into sites were far higher for foreigners than for locals. In Australia, by comparison, everyone pays the same rate...we don't attempt to 'rip-off' the visitors.
In short...what could be a great country to visit is totally spoiled by a lot of it's citizens who seem interested only in extracting maximum dollars for minimum effort.
I found your perception of India interesting, yet I'm curious why you posted - do you want to stop people from going there? I spent a month in India in January/February 2011 and found it to be an astonishing, fascinating and challenging place. Although I experienced the same rip-off attempts at restaurants, rubbish etc as you did, I think it is easy coming from a country like Australia as we do, to judge people for these actions without considering their perspective. The moral high ground is a luxury afforded to people who live in safe, easy environments where a government will always ensure they are provided for. Although I don't attempt to excuse every pickpocket and rip off artist in idea, but I think it's important to consider the motives behind these actions that you're talking about.
India is different to Australia. I don't think this is an excuse to write off the whole country and it's people. Even if every person you dealt with was dishonest or difficult, this also isn't a reason to generalise these traits to everyone. Also, the fact that you are charged to visit monuments at a higher rate than locals means they can enjoy their country's sites for a price that is reasonable to them. Sure, I paid 500 rupees or whatever it was to see the Taj instead of the 50 rupees the locals pay, but this is ten bucks in Australia, which I can earn here in a crappy retail job in half an hour. I guess what I'm advocating here is a bit of perspective.
Mmmm...you ask me to consider the motives behind the actions I encountered in India. So cheating the tourist is excusable if you happen to live in India? I don't think so...dishonesty is dishonesty...however you look at it!
I stand by my comments...I don't excuse the cheating in India, as it never happened to me in Nepal...which is an equally poor country, in fact, more so!
The Visa charge in Nepal was about USD10 from memory, and was easily obtained on entry at the airport.
The Indian Visa was about AUD 96, and involved a complicated application process before traveling (India seems to think everything has to be as complicated as possible!).
One other point I omitted to make before...in India I often encountered officials giving me the 'run-around'....in other words, actions that should be straight forward are made deliberately complicated and confusing ...so that you are left quite frustrated! I have the sneaking suspicion that this is done so that you will 'fold' and pay a bribe to get the service you want! Something that I believe they call "easing the way".
Well...I refused to offer bribes!
It's interesting to note that there was a newspaper campaign on while I was there aimed at stamping out corruption....but judging on the way it is entrenched through the system from top to bottom, they will be saddled with it forever. And you don't see paying bribes as dishonesty?
As for much higher charges for foreigners to enter tourist sites... in Australia the charge is the same for everyone...no discrimination....and we have a range of citizens from super rich to poor....just like India does. I've heard about the wealthy Indian people, dripping in gold jewelry entering at the cheap local rates...so there is no reason for locals to be favored, in my opinion.
I'm sorry...but I did encounter a rip-off mentality in India, and so will never go back... no matter how 'incredible' they choose to think the country is!
That should be...'pay bribes'.