Several months ago, Seth Stevenson wrote in Slate that he was trying really hard to like India. He started off his series by saying that it was okay to hate a place and presented the typical begging, dirty, urine reeking India that takes a materially developed foreigner by complete surprise. He went on to grudgingly add some good words about Tendulkar's, the Casino group and other places that were meant to offer comfort; from the lap of which, the depressing reality can be viewed dispassionately. I recalled this article when I read Vimal's post about Globalization. One of the comments in that post mentioned that rural India will probably remain largely unchanged for the next several years. I couldn't help but agree that India is a land of such vast contradictions. There is so much diversity that it is hard to 'typeslot' this country. Sometimes, I hate the fact that this is how my nation seems to an outsider. At other times, I am proud to see that India is becoming a hot spot for many different things - some for flattering and others for not-at-all flattering reasons.
On one side, we are fighting hard with China to become the number one sweat shop in the world. On another side, we are teaching the West to meditate and de-stress. Which other nation can effectively cause stress to its natives while turning Yoga into a multi million (maybe my math is terribly wrong. Perhaps it is in the billions?) dollar industry? A psychologist I know mentioned that his waiting room is full of IT and ITES professionals these days.
On a third side, the Laloos of the country are refining the ridiculous. On a fourth side, rural India still needs so many basic amenities. On a fifth side, the urban crowd has so much more wealth to flaunt, liquid cash to burn. There are many more sides and far greater contradictions than sides.
Like Tharoor states in the first chapter of his book India: From Midnight to the Millennium, "And yet India is more than the sum of its contradictions. It is a country held together, in the words of its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, "by strong but invisible threads.... About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive." ."
Evidently, Ayn Rand who said, "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." did not have India in mind!
In a land teeming with billions, can there really be a single good approach that will benefit all, hurt none and can still be implemented? I guess not. There will be good ideas that will benefit a number of people and those will be pursued even when armchair experts lament the loss of Indian-ness. A single common good is Utopian. A greater common good is realistic. That is why there are Pizza Huts and there are beggars outside their doors.