When I was growing up, India, the country of my heritage was considered a third world country. The India that my kids are growing up seeing is a whole different place, however. So much has changed in a few decades. I was really impressed by most of the new developments that I noticed during my recent trip.
We still took anti-Malaria drugs and only drank bottled water while we were there but most other things felt similar to the west. There were American restaurants, products and shops everywhere. The fashion trends were more parallel than in the past. There was tons of construction of new malls, cineplexes, and highways. With the increase in foreign businesses and tourism, many things catered to more than just the locals. It was really impressive to see the massive growth in such a short time. After all, India only gained independence from the British in 1947. After years of oppression and now a partitioned country as well, they struggled to get back on their feet.
Many people in the past, like my parents, had left India to gain better opportunities in the US. This was the land of growth and opportunity. I still believe it is but now with all the globalization and changes in India, that has become a land of opportunity as well. Many more recent immigrants from India are actually choosing to move back. For people like my parents, this is not an option since they are now more American than Indian and lived here for much longer than in India. However, for many new immigrants who came purely for job opportunities, moving back to family and their home sounds great if the jobs are similar.
There are still a lot of problems in India too, as with any country. Even though there are people with way too much money, there is rampant poverty as well. There is also a lot of corruption and bribery that goes on at every level. Bribing policeman and government officials seems to be a regular part of doing business. Where people can be bought like that, rules and regulations are often bypassed leading to dangerous outcomes. This is when we hear about buildings collapsing because the builders got away with using poor materials or adding unauthorized floors.
I was also disappointed in the lack of community feeling and responsibility. Each person, rich or poor, is only concerned with their own family and not what is going on around them. Or, there are some who recognize issues but don’t make changes because they feel like their changes wouldn’t make a difference in the larger problem. With such a large population of talent and resources, there is so much potential if people had more of an attitude of working together for the benefit of the community and country. Instead I heard of politicians selling public lands to grease their own pockets. There was also no sense of concern for the environment but I guess it has taken the West a long time to change on that front as well.
I guess every country goes through growing pains and has downfalls after successes. We have seen plenty of that in the US as well. Though, I still consider myself a proud American at heart, I was very happy to see all the progress in the country of my heritage and extended family. I was proud to take my kids there and show them what they come from. It also felt nice that they have the impression to pass on to their friends that India is a country of riches and luxury. That is quite a change from the India we visited as kids. Regardless of the monetary changes though, I was happy to see that a lot of the cultural and family values haven’t faded too much. My kids received the same warm welcome and love that I used to get and I’m sure they would love to visit again!