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India: A Country of Extremes

By Lindsay Kuhlmann

        indiangirl    It was hard to ignore the severe differences in wealth that I saw in India. The first day I arrived I rode by shanties that had been erected in the middle of Chennai. These huts had no electricity or running water and looked as if in moments they would collapse. Cows accompanied many of the huts and once the streets became dark the people without shelter slept on the streets next to the dismal housing. I was able to see first hand the scene described in Planet of Slums as “the dumping ground for those urban residents whose labor is wanted in the urban economy but whose visual presence should be reduced as much as possible (pg 172, Davis).”

       india      Everywhere I ventured I saw beggars on the streets that would aggressively approach me for money. Yet this action only lasted as far as the city limits. During my short time in India I also did a home stay in Erode, India. The home was in a small village. My stay in the village was peaceful and, while I was stared at, I was never asked for money. There seemed to be a sense of contentment for life in the village. The people were not determined to take advantage of me. It was the India that I was hoping to see. I hypothesize that perhaps this has something to do with a vernacular status quo versus a transnational status quo. It seemed that in the cities people were exposed to a materialism that made people feel they needed more. Whereas the countryside it was acceptable to be happy with what you have. This isn’t to say that people don’t work to gain material goods in rural India but it may mean that material goods are not as important to obtain. I am not sure if the five days in India gave me clear picture of the country and perhaps this theory would change if I spent more time there. But right now this is my view of India.   

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