Monday, May 17, 2010

The Extremes of India

India presents a world of extremes, and while most of my posts relate to what many would consider the positive extreme (i.e., there's a vast minority of really, really nice things here), I haven't done a great job of relating how the extreme poverty experienced by the masses exists side by side to the opulent luxury enjoyed by a few. As a quick example of how the worlds coexist, one day on the way home from the gym I saw an orange Bentley getting passed by an orange bicycle rickshaw in a roundabout. As an even better example, here's a slideshow I came across from The Wall Street Journal that does a great job of showing the division with pictures (probably better than I could do with words, not that I won't try in the future):


  1. Hi,

    like your blog.. pretty cool, and gives us a good unvarnished insight into your experiences.

    The whole phenomena of slums is something large urban areas have helped evolve. Mumbai and Delhi are good examples. However if you go to South India, and Kerala in particular,you rarely see slums. The income divides are less, the literacy levels are higher, and overall cleanliness and civic sense is much higher.

    The North / South divide also shows up in 2 other interesting statistics:
    a.) The Gates foundation found that almost all polio cases( lack of vaccinations) in India were in the North and North West belts( and into Pakistan), with almost zero cases in the South.

    b.) The development of human capital in the southern states( Bangalore, Chennai, Kerala etc..) has outpaced those in the Northern states by a wide margin. While folks in the south also like to migrate to cities( with slum creation potential) for opportunities, they appear to have less to loose by staying back in the smaller cities/ rural areas.
    I'd recommend a vacation in Kerala .. you will love it.

  2. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. When we were here in 2005, we had the opportunity to go to Kerala for 4 nights (2 nights in Thekkady and 2 in/around the backwaters). I noticed the overall cleanliness but didn't make the connection at the time about the slums, but you're absolutely right now that I think about it. I haven't spent much time in the south but would be interested in any other suggestions. There's a chance we may go back to Kerala in August for the wedding of a co-worker, and I've heard Munnar is great as well.