The Weak and The Poor

Delhi SquatterOn the Arabian Sea-side of Mumbai sits a white jewel of a shrine in the midst of the sapphire waters. The causeway out to the shrine is about three-fourths of a kilometer long. I visited it one day in 2005. What I saw will haunt me forever. Even now, seven years in remove, it brings tears to my eyes and a choking rage at the way some people treat their fellow humans. In the words of Virgil, “if I had a hundred mouths and a hundred tongues and a throat of iron, I could not rehearse their crimes or name their punishments.”

One of the reasons I dislike India so much is the myth making, the lie that it is a nation living up to its Gandhian inspiration, when in reality it hides behind it, a nation of a few powerful feeding off the many who are weak.

Is this a harsh judgment? Then read this.

2 Responses to “The Weak and The Poor”

  1. Gopi Nathan


    I have read some of your articles on India. Nothing new . Not because I disagree with you but because I have known it for a long time.

    Your exception to Kerala is understandable in the light of Kerala’s general social progress and spread of basic knowledge and newspapers etc. (McKibben’s famous article etc).

    Gandhian? No way. There is not a single person who follows Gandhi in India. Even traditional old Gandhians are not Gandhians at all. Gandhi never told a lie, never wasted money, orthodox he was but never wasted on religious ceremonies and extravaganza. The followers do all these.

    Independent India has gone backward in many ways! Some of my old relatives used to say this in the 60s- Now I know the full impact of this. If we take the 50 years prior to 1947 and after 1947, one can see that India made more progress and moved forward prior to 1947 in spite of the two WW during the same period.

    India is secular? Means state has no religon? No. Indian secualrism means that the State has all religions. All religions are given unlimited freedom to do whatever they want! In fact this is one of the reasons of Indian backwardness. Any damn thing – absolute supersition or ritual – is justifiable if it is part of one of the religions!

    The word REFORMATION never existed in India – except in Kerala and Calcutta. I say Calcutta and not Bengal!

    I come from a village with no electricity until 1971. I did not and still do not consider this a drawback. Because we had schools, post office with telephone/telegraph, and a library which had local and Indian weeklies and Time & Life Magazines then in the 1960s. That library and newspapers made all the difference – between this village and the big industrial suburbans in Northern India.

    I got a shock when I reached Madras for the first time in 1974. By the side of Mount Road a worshipping stone right on the pavement .. very filthy surroundings… stray dogs nearby …. How can anyone worship here?

    The technology we have is not put into practice at all. The IITs produce graduates for working abroad (now IT). NO one in IIT see any paradox in the water shortage or power shortage our cities are experiencing. No one thinks there is an urgent need to use Solar Energy for power as well as for saving on petrol. Instead IIT labs are happy in producing IT personnel and scientists who are busy with finding the nth order spectrum of some element at Cryogenic temperature etc. Not even 5% of Indian Research is directed towards (even indirectly) solving our problems.

    The other day I read an Indian book on Indian and World Scientists written for school children. The name of S Chandrasekhar (Nobel Phy winner) was missing!!! Do I have to say anything more on our esteemed educated writers?

    One of my Danish friends visited India in the 1980s. His comment was “The country is not as poor as I thought, but cities and public places are far dirtier than I have ever imagined!” No one could have put it better.

    - best regards
    Gopi Nathan

  2. Amrita Bhattacharyya

    Hi Sean,

    I agree with your assessment of India and her ills. I was born and raised in India in a University campus and after my education left for the USA. After living and working there for almost 20 years I came back to Mumbai to work.

    I am unable to understand why we are the way we are. Like you I see a practiced apathy towards everything – exploitation, filth, pollution, inefficiency, children’s and women’s rights, animal cruelty,..

    I am not sure if this denial is cultural or a self- protection mechanism. But like you I am appalled and go from disgust to despair. My attempts of having a discussion with my friends and peers has been met with little patience or understanding. Instead I am told how good it is here and that I must not adopt a western worldview and so on. I am now thinking of moving back. Yet I am wracked with guilt for abandoning my people and my country. But I can not see redemption on the horizon ..

    Thank you for writing so honestly. Best wishes and safe travels, Amrita

Leave a Reply