What a Foreigner hates in India

I recently happened to come across this blog and this is what the foreigner had to say:

“Though the nation has grown and matured over the last few decades, unfortunately not all domains have followed the same evolution.

1. Power cuts:

While typing this article, the electricity board cut off the power supply. The reason - a storm last night which lasted for 15 to 20 minutes. While I appreciate their reasoning, during the cyclonic rains in New Orleans last year, though thousands perished, electricity was not switched off.

2. No access to historical documents:

Without fail, you will be courteously informed that India's security and integrity will be endangered if these precious documents are opened to the public. It is sad that Indians are not entitled to study their past (though they can always visit archives in the West to know more about India!)

3. Discrimination against the white tourist:

Something particularly irritating for a 'white man' is that wherever he goes in India, he has to pay a special rate. Rates are often ten times higher for those who have a 'white’ skin. Those who have made these rules do not understand that this policy harms India's image.

4. Paranoid about maps:

Several years ago I visited the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. I was invited to the office of a local tahsildar. He did not have a map of the area. He only had a vague sketch of the district. He explained that maps were 'classified' and only the army was authorized to use them. A year ago, the Union Cabinet approved a new National Map Policy, but unfortunately, the mindset of the implementers remains the same.

5. And photographs:

A friend told me of her nightmarish experience while doing research in Chennai, the number of forms she had to fill to take some photos in a museum. Though one pays in hard currency, one has still to justify why one needs the photo. The poor researcher is looked upon as someone trying to 'steal' the national patrimony. I visited the Louvre museum in Paris which receives tens of thousands of visitors every day. All of them were happily clicking away.

6. Politicians:

The topic of politicians is an easy one. Everything appalling and more can be said of them and one will still remain below the truth. In their defense, they are part of a system which is uniquely based on votes. To win votes, one needs money and all compromises are permissible to get the required funds 'to serve the people'. It is true the world over, but here like in many other domains India excels.

7. Neglect for the environment:

Another frustrating aspect for me is the lack of care for the environment (though it has been recently improving). While Indians are the most conscious people as far as personal hygiene goes, there is very little civic awareness or concern for the environment. Education could help (for example for disposal of garbage or plastic bags), but it is often government policies such as free electricity for farmers, incentives for asbestos sheets (one of the most carcinogenic material) or chemical pesticides which harm the environment the most.

8. Traffic:

I hate the Indian traffic (with its absence of rules). Each time I return from a visit abroad, it is a terrible shock. It is difficult to comprehend how there are not more casualties on the road. A friend explained to me that the multitude of gods in India probably protect their flock. The fact is that there are no law enforcement authorities (most of the police force is busy with VIP duty).

9. Corruption: It is better to not comment.

Please allow me to add a last point: the number of 'holidays' taken for a myriad of family 'problems', (marriages, engagements, funerals, etc.), cultural, local or religious festivals (of all faiths: India is secular), then you have bandhs, hartals, riots, strikes (India is the only place in the world where the government sometimes calls for a strike), etc.

Apart from the above, India is an incredible place and I have never regretted, even for one day, to have settled here.”

Well, that’s how foreigners see our country. [I have edited it a bit. For more, visit: www.rediff.com/news/2006/jun/22claude.htm]

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