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Rationalist
16 February 2011, 09:40 PM
It has been quite a while since I have visited India and therefore, would like to know from those who have visited India:

1). Whether the poverty is as bad as is portrayed in our lovable Western media and (faulty and Western relative) statistics.
2). Whether people do still give a damn about the caste system and whether caste-caste violence is still rampant in the cities and rural areas, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media.
3). Whether Hinduism is declining, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is actually rising (meaning Bhakti forms are dying out and true Hinduism, the philosophical side of it, is gaining ground)
4). Whether the Indian middle class is filled with people who just party all night and get drunk all the time, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or contains people who work hard and care about their future
5). Whether India is becoming increasingly Western and breaking away from its cultural and spiritual roots, as in portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is becomingly Western superficially and is spiritually advancing.
6). Whether corruption is a big problem in India, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is fast declining and much lower than its previous levels.

I really need to know for the sake of my sanity. I am so sick of being besieged with snide remarks on how "uncivilized" and "poor" India is.

mohanty
17 February 2011, 01:02 AM
I can tell you one thing though. Western media's perception of India suffers from the same complex as the Christian perception of Hinduism. It can't be expected to be objective because their lens is too thick and too coloured. Everything is judged according to their parameters and their logic.

Things in India may be grim in places -- much still needs to be done about corruption and poverty -- but things are not getting worse. They are getting better. It is nobody's case that India is still a begging third world country. We have come a long way and we keep inching ahead instead of being faced with more outside obstacles than the west is.

Hinduism is an adaptive system and it survives by adapting to the situation. The Bhakti movement arose when the sanctity of temples was not a given anymore -- they were being demolished. When that threat passed, the temples returned, but the moral clouding was still very prevalent, so the philosophical side had tom wait and the Itihasas took over. Now, as the atmosphere becomes a bit more conducive to open discourse again, the philosophy of Hindus is coming to the fore again. So it's a constant change paradigm, not a decline and rise one.

Indian middle class eh? The party-stereotype makes me laugh. These journalists never leave the confines of their air conditioned studios and tour the posh areas. They see youngsters steeped in western ways and conclude that India is becoming "modern" (as if getting druink and puking all over is a respectable rite of passage).

I would like you to read an editorial piece by a journalist (Indian only by birth but western in everything else). It pours scorn on everything Indian and expresses worry about how the youth are becoming traditional.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/sagarikaghose/Still-old-at-heart/Article1-660102.aspx

Then read a response to it by an Indian father of two sons:
http://www.vmohanty.com/2011/a-s-raghunath-replies-to-sagarika-ghose/

These are just two opinions, but it should make clear that the picture of Indian you spoke about is by no means uniform.

Eastern Mind
17 February 2011, 08:55 AM
It has been quite a while since I have visited India and therefore, would like to know from those who have visited India:

1). Whether the poverty is as bad as is portrayed in our lovable Western media and (faulty and Western relative) statistics.
2). Whether people do still give a damn about the caste system and whether caste-caste violence is still rampant in the cities and rural areas, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media.
3). Whether Hinduism is declining, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is actually rising (meaning Bhakti forms are dying out and true Hinduism, the philosophical side of it, is gaining ground)
4). Whether the Indian middle class is filled with people who just party all night and get drunk all the time, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or contains people who work hard and care about their future
5). Whether India is becoming increasingly Western and breaking away from its cultural and spiritual roots, as in portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is becomingly Western superficially and is spiritually advancing.
6). Whether corruption is a big problem in India, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is fast declining and much lower than its previous levels.

I really need to know for the sake of my sanity. I am so sick of being besieged with snide remarks on how "uncivilized" and "poor" India is.

Vannakkam Rationalist: Here is a western Hindu pilgrim's take. It is very limited in perspective. My companion pilgrim was in the Mother land in 1982, so was able to observe change better than I. The time was short, and the geography was limited. We spent a little over 2 weeks in TN and 2 nights in Delhi. This is probably not qualified to observe at all, but ... here goes.

1) I saw very little poverty. There were some professional beggars about the temples and I saw some fires in the forest on the way to the hotel in Delhi, meaning there were homeless people, but we have about 1000 homeless here in my city of half a million. I did see a ton of smiling going on, which tells me something about 'wealth'.

2) From my limited perspective, I saw no caste at all.

3) My driver in Delhi easily engaged in sharing the greatness of Hinduism from his POV. Two temples I went to were incredibly crowded (Tiruchendur and Palani) Others were just nice, easy to access, and spiritually empowering for me.

4) I saw no booze at all: zilch. There was a bar at the hotel in Madurai, but I never saw anyone go into it.

5) My cohort told me that there was substantial change in infrastructure especially, and more pollution, but that can easily be changed. (For example, I explained out plastic recycling program, and it was a new thought to most)

6) I have no idea. Other than my hotel in Delhi not fulfilling the email promises, (Everybody has to make a living) nobody (priests, rickshaw drivers) asked for additional dakshina or bribes anywhere. As far as the politicians go, I have no idea.

I love India, but I'm not your normal westerner. I would suggest if you want a better perspective other than the media's, take an hour or so and browse the website Indiamike as it is full of westerners who love India. People who make negative comments about it get shooed away faster there than they do here.

I'd also like to point out that western media misunderstanding India is just one specific situation that applies to us here on HDF. I honestly think that nobody can fully understand another culture unless they are born into it or have lived in it at least 10 years. Even then I'm not sure. This also includes the reverse - immigrants trying to get a handle on the non-culture of the west. Perhaps that goes without saying. This is true even within countries. For example, a lot of western Canadian rural folk like to bash Toronto, but then when asked if they've ever been there, they say "No." Because in India there is more diversity than here in customs, language etc., I feel it is even more true there.

Aum Namasivaya

mohanty
17 February 2011, 09:41 AM
My companion pilgrim was in the Mother land in 1982, so was able to observe change better than I. The time was short, and the geography was limited. We spent a little over 2 weeks in TN and 2 nights in Delhi. This is probably not qualified to observe at all, but ... here goes.


Whoa! I was born in 1983. :eek:

Eastern Mind
17 February 2011, 09:48 AM
Whoa! I was born in 1983. :eek:

Vannakkam: Chronological age in a single lifetime has nothing to do with wisdom, or with ignorance, for that matter. But hey if you'd like to tag me with the 'uncle' honorific, go ahead. :)

Aum Namasivaya

mohanty
17 February 2011, 10:11 AM
Vannakkam: Chronological age in a single lifetime has nothing to do with wisdom, or with ignorance, for that matter. But hey if you'd like to tag me with the 'uncle' honorific, go ahead. :)

Aum Namasivaya

Uncle Eastern Mind. Uncle Mind is simpler. :)

Eastern Mind
17 February 2011, 10:55 AM
Uncle Eastern Mind. Uncle Mind is simpler. :)

Vannakkam: Wow, you have lost some Indianness. The 'uncle' goes after. So it would be EMuncle. But hey, its all in jest. You can call me Eastern Mindless if you want.

Aum Namasivaya

mohanty
17 February 2011, 11:06 AM
Vannakkam: Wow, you have lost some Indianness. The 'uncle' goes after. So it would be EMuncle. But hey, its all in jest. You can call me Eastern Mindless if you want.

Aum Namasivaya

EMuncle it is. :)

Shanti
20 February 2011, 10:57 PM
I can't answer all of the questions and since was born and have been raised in America my answers are limited to my little knowledge of the situations in their entirety.

From what I have observed from my familial visits and from my own travels there, things are changing at a rapid rate as far as infrastructure and more western lifestyles are concerned.

It used to be that bringing gifts to India was easy because there was not much availability there, however now it's near impossible to take gifts with you because pretty much everything is available. There are big box chain stores (Walmart even I think), chain grocery stores that stock everything, most fast food chains you would find here, giant malls that even have stores like Louis Vuitton. Granted this is in bigger cities. There are large numbers of middle to upper middle class (and higher) living in these cities though and I would say that western lifestyles have been greatly incorporated due to all this availability.

As far as drinking and partying go, there is a lot of this going on with the youth that *I* saw but I don't know if it's more or the same as any times before the past 10 years. I'm a bit biased because I spent a lot of time in Bangalore a.k.a Pub City. But this also happened in a few other cities I visited.

Do I think these youth have forgotten their heritage and have broken away from there spiritual roots? No. From some of there cultural roots? Perhaps some.

Now I only can speak of the snippets of society that I saw so I cannot speak for all of India's youth.

I don't know much about the amount of caste violence that goes on, but I do think that caste is still a very real issue, but not in all parts of life. It is still a HUGE issue when it comes to marriage.

From the area that my husband's family is from, I do think that poverty has declined some. For example, my MIL was saying that it was very difficult these days to get reliable household help as their wages are much higher now and there are other jobs available in the cities. This could be different in other areas though.

~S

PARAM
21 February 2011, 09:05 AM
All Caste violence are sponsored by politicians to divide Hindus, they use it for vote bank, all castes are target of anti Hindu attackers

Muslim Yadav, Muslim Jat, Muslim Gujjar, Muslim Maratha, Muslim Rajput etc, this is all nonsense, as Muslims killed their forefathers, did bad with their foremothers. But all this is accepted to raise Caste barrier. Their rules are simple spread hatred against other Hindus, and try to make peace with other Muslims to make their (unverified) caste - Muslim alliance.

This alliance is supported by politicians to secure their vote bank, anything that happen to unite Hindu is communal for them, because it can destroy caste ridden vote bank.

Christians are also doing the same trick with caste factor, spread hatred against other Hindus even orphan caste less Hindus.

They even support AIT and claim that they where the Natives of Sind, and Hindus were Aryans who destroyed their civilization. Even go say that, they were originally Muslims / Christians (No matter in pre Islamic and Pre Christ time). About their own forefathers, they will never mention anything, they will show open disrespect, and they will only speak about caste.

Hindus are not to be blamed for this.

amith vikram
22 February 2011, 12:38 AM
It has been quite a while since I have visited India and therefore, would like to know from those who have visited India:

1). Whether the poverty is as bad as is portrayed in our lovable Western media and (faulty and Western relative) statistics.
2). Whether people do still give a damn about the caste system and whether caste-caste violence is still rampant in the cities and rural areas, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media.
3). Whether Hinduism is declining, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is actually rising (meaning Bhakti forms are dying out and true Hinduism, the philosophical side of it, is gaining ground)
4). Whether the Indian middle class is filled with people who just party all night and get drunk all the time, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or contains people who work hard and care about their future
5). Whether India is becoming increasingly Western and breaking away from its cultural and spiritual roots, as in portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is becomingly Western superficially and is spiritually advancing.
6). Whether corruption is a big problem in India, as is portrayed in our lovable Western media, or is fast declining and much lower than its previous levels.

I really need to know for the sake of my sanity. I am so sick of being besieged with snide remarks on how "uncivilized" and "poor" India is.

I have been living in india all my life and each and every point is true. I am not a fan of the west, but they always portray the harsh facts rather than indian media or mindset should i say, who ignore that part and want to believe india is always great without going to the streets and without giving a damn about the social and economic inequality.