Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gandhigiri.. or not!

(Expression made popular by the recent Bollywood movie "Lage Raho Munna Bhai", meaning "a man acting according to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi")

In the very country where Mahatma Gandi fought against racial discrimination, people still get judged by the color of their skin: In every monument or touristic attraction you will find two different prices on display: one for "Indians" and one for "Foreigners". With the foreigner's fee being of course at least 25 times higher.

Now how does the cashier make out between an "Indian" and a "Foreigner"? In a country where noone is required to go around with an ID proof.. The cashier will never ask dark skin people for their ID, whereas white skin automatically means full price. If someone comes from Bangladesh, Nepal or Pakistan, he'll look Indian enough to get local price, while, say, a chinese looking man from Sikkim could be bothered and required to show a ID proof..

So this is the way the law is implemented.. and I call this straight up racial discrimination!

Now of course, when you argue about it, the official reason is not racial discrimination.. the official reason is that foreigners (understand "not indian looking") have "more money"..
So it is a money problem.. Fine! make the discrimination on money: "10 rupees for the poor and 500 for the rich"... But then the government officials and IAS officiers, who are heavily paid by taxpayer money to come up with these stupid rules should also be charged full price!..

And actually, the few Indians who can afford to travel to France are essentially amongst these, so I would suggest the entrance to the Louvre should be 25 times higher for Indians than it is for the rest of us.


Uma said...

Stopping people by Skin color? This remains me lot about every immigration checks I undergo, when I enter Europe or America. What makes people stop me every single time, when I cross the country boards? France, which already had a revolution and where the literacy rate is much higher than in India, what makes them stop me in spite of showing my 'ENS' id card? But I guess the bottom line feeling about this discrimination is, here when I am stopped, I feel like an terrorist , but I guess when you are stopped there you should feel like a wealthy rich man, which you are... in the Indian Standard. Me with my 'tiny' student fellowship in France, get more income than my father who held a rank equivalent to deputy collector when he retired or even more than my professors and the CEO of my ex-company and don't worry Louvre already gets not 25 times but 50 times more, money than I pay to enter Taj Mahal and pay 25times more to see a movie... Anyways, when I travel with my 'western' friends in India, I make sure that they get Indian rates and was successful in that too..... But over all we are poor country try to develop economically, we depend on a lot on the income from tourism... For all the good food, and the warm smile we give you, please excuse our racial discrimination.

joune said...

Sorry Uma, but i won't..

Food is not given, it is sold, and i don't mind paying for it.. as for smiles it could be the object of a whole new dicussion.

Racial discrimination still exists everywhere in the world.. stupids and assholes everywhere, and France is not behind in that field i agree, but it's the official character of this one that makes me jump to the roof.

India is poor, true. But why is it? It never lacked resources, smart people and quality education.. India is poor first of all because of mentality block, based on religious beliefs, and second because -after moghols and british- it is now being colonised by the indian administration itself which lives solely on corruption, blocks local enterprise and disregards the people.

I know that begging is part of the Indian culture; "we're poor so you should give us money for free -while we make sure that we remain poor"..
but i cannot agree with this.

Uma said...

I mean food, with hospitality, I am sure you will not deny it. Where on earth.. You can have a surprise birthday party arranged by your fellow train travelers, at the end of two days train travel. It happened to me. As you know, one thing which annoys me the most in India is its blind beliefs, but I am sure that’s not the reason for the poverty, In turn you need such things to manage and keep a huge crowd, especially when they are wilder, because of lack of education etc. Just imagine such a huge crowd of people, with out much opportunities and struggle and struggle in their every day to day life, will go extremely crazy without having faith in God or in Tomorrow. Its just 50+ years since we have our freedom, but the changes and growth in these years are so tremendous, which make us proudly say “India is the Best” (yeah! we believe in future) . After the bad Tsunami hit, where the army and the government organizations were not enough for the rescue, what made the people recover so fast? The so called blind beliefs ‘Karma’ and the fear about reincarnation made people to act. This makes people to take responsibility in their own hand and make them struggle for what they want, instead of blaming the neighbors or the government. Such growth is from the root level, slow and strong.

Also check this out

If you happened to see the movie ‘water’ you will know the status of women in India 50 years back, at that point no women in India would have dared to dream of going to Paris, or reading / writing comments in a Blog. With this rate of growth…I am sure one day India, will do very well economically, and give free entrance for all the museums because one of the ‘blind beliefs’ in India is that Guests should be treated like God’ .

BTW, I guess you watched the movie Munna Bhai, Did you like it?

joune said...

Uma, Ray..

You say religion is not the reason and i say think again..
Every society is primarily based on religious grounds.. europe reproduces everywhere a pyramidal structure based on christianity's hierarchy and america draws its dynamism and creativity from protestantism..
don't take me wrong, if i had to choose one religion -god forbid!- i would probably go for hinduism.. or my version of it.. it has values i can share and most of all it doesn't require a pope (or any other nonsense of that kind)
but it is an extremely indivudualistic philosophy which has no regard as to how to live together as a society.. and it clearly holds the keys to many problems in India; from begging to corruption to sanitary conditions.. and even the answer to why India was invaded so many times..

India has made so much progress in 50 years.. like buying laptops and cellphones from Japan, computers and software from america, weapons and nuclear crap from france... when talking to Indians you hear things like "look how India has progressed: even rickshaw drivers can have cellphones now!" but progress doesn't mean buying imported goods..
Yes, i liked Munna Bhai.. especially the part where he clearly says "this country has taps but no running water, switches but no electricity, cars but beat up roads.. the country has been yours for 60 years but what have you done with it?"

I don't know if religions have been distorted or if religions are purposely vague enough to be used anyway people want it to be.. ultra conservatism and fanatism has always been a problem with any religion and today's islamic extremists are probably the most dangerous world cancer of our generation.. but this time i'm not talking about this.. i'm talking about the very philosophical roots on which the indian society is based..
Hinduism doesn't say people should be treated like shit; it just doesn't say anything about how people should be treated.. other people don't exist in hinduism, only personal salvation matters.. while most other religions dictate rules as how to behave as a community, Hinduism only deals with philosophical principles on a personal level: solidarity between the people is not in the picture..
This is even the main argument for the creation of Buddhism which split out of Hinduism, although they never managed to create a more combative society.. getting rid of the cast system for a more equalitarian society and praying together for more cohesion between the people where the roots of this split, but this idea of renouncing to the materialistic world by fear of suffering cost them a lot.. and the last example of the price Buddhists had to pay for their philosophy is Tibetans defeat against communist China.. the Dalai Lama himself acknowledges this.

The point is that there is no political will to do better.. Indians like it the way it is.. The indian leading class, even starting with the middle class want India to remain what it is and in my very family i hear things like "if everyone becomes a doctor or an engineer, who's gonna clean our houses??"

India is "free".. it is very free.. you're free to throw your garbage in front of your neighbour's house, free to take a shit in the middle of the road, free to not do the job you're assigned to and get away with it, free to burn red lights, free to drive on the wrong side of the road... is it freedom or the blatant incapacity of the administration to organise things? what is freedom? the typical basic high school philosophy debate!.. freedom doesn't mean that you can do anything with no respect for others; it means the ability to choose your own path within existing constraints.. and it stops where other's begin..
(but i understand your feeling, living in america.. on the contrary america is a real jail and after 2 years there i felt i couldn't breathe anymore!)

Yet i have to acknowledge, coming from China where people look down to their shoes as soon as you mention the word "government".. i'm very happy that we can have this open discussion without fear of police represails!

..although probably not for long; America (always ready to encourage dictatorships all over the world) is now suggesting that India should adopt a China-like communist model to boost its economy! "Democracy may not be a suitable model for India", a Goldman Sachs representative was quoted in Times of India...

Uma said...

I mean the progress in terms of how we have realized the ignorance and trying to come out of the blind beliefs, how much the status of women have changed or she can make change for herself,if she doesn't want to follow the conventional rules. . I don't see the cell phone or MTV culture as the progress of India. Indian politics..yes! very corrupted...If you check the time line of this Jessica Lall, murder case..It will bring tears to every ones eyes...but end of five years, we started see the fruits of democracy ...Follow the work done by NDTV along with the younger generation to fight the corrupted rich politicians.. Justice delay is not Denial.

Give up democracy??? ...we don't want to sell our sleep to buy luxurious mattress..

I guess there is a typo in your comment..did you mean "software from America???? or Software to America????

Ray said...

Wow! I am glad you brought this news article to our attention. BTW, who is this ignorant Goldman Sachs representative? Can you send the exact link? He needs to be dunked in a well for making such a ridiculous argument! Sorry, but it makes me mad when people with a decent education (obviously working in Goldman Sachs says it all or maybe it doesn't) make such stupid arguments. The man, clearly is unaware of the indian system and its complexties to trivialize the issue by saying "ok--let's just make india like china!!"

And, yes, India could do much better and we as a population need to change our mentality in many ways if we want any actual progress at all.