Posted on December 1, 2005


Well well. Made it through three weeks without managing to do overly much.

I’ve seen enough Moghul monuments for now. Looking forward to going to a part of the country that contains old buildings that they didn’t destroy. They were vandals dammit.

Why couldn’t they leave the buildings they found where they were? I’m sure someone can enlighten me.

Maybe it has something to do with grinding the identity and individual will of your conquered people into the dirt, and then replacing it with your own vision of the world. You can’t conquer and then leave things just as they are I suppose. They had a new state to build, a Moghul state, not a Hindu one. So why conquer in the first place? Why not just leave well alone? To my knowledge northern India for much of its history was not expansionistic. That is, they had a defense force, but not conquering armies. Conquering was not part of their agenda. However, live and let live wasn’t everyone’s policy it turned out.

So now when Hindu revivalists tear down a mosque, and put something Hindu in its place, they’re just getting their own back, so to speak. It was done to them earlier. And so it all goes on until someone decides there are better things to do. So apparently that’s where economic development comes in. Its what everyone talks about around here.

Trouble is the benefits and downsides aren’t shared equally by all, and certainly not by all groups. Lower castes and tribes benefit little and suffer much, while other groups get patchy coverage. Its the same two percent who get most of it.

If I can be high and mighty, and state the obvious, India’s rich have a lot to answer for. But much of their crap behaviour was simply passed down to them by caste and parents who taught them that an unfeeling right to power was good, and this is called ‘traditional’. The remainder they acquired from the British and Americans, and it is called ‘modern’. To many Indians, America is so obviously such a good place, (any idiot can tell just by looking), that all possible steps should be taken to be as much like them as possible. Few people with influence over it are paying attention to the many things that are actually wrong with America. Or the fact that they can and already do ‘beat’ America at a lot of things. And that list of things will continue to grow.

So India will be powerful and wealthy. Again. America’s wealth will decline a little or a lot against global measurements, and the two countries won’t be as far apart as they seem to be now.
Already parts of Delhi are (shudder) looking American by my standards. Flat screen computers in air-conditioned internet and shops that remind you of video phone retailers on Swanston Street. So lavish commercial excess and personal luxury are well advanced right here where I am. Its just that everyone else misses out completely.

Because right next door to the sparkling new modern shops, where no-one sweats or is dirty, are people sitting in dirt, making chai over a coal fire.

Mind you, in Washington D.C, some of America’s poorest live right near the White House. One country is not as invincible as it appears, and the other is not as poor and ‘backward’ as it appears.

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