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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 6, No. 2, 2007
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Robert J. Lewis
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Blogger Anita Roy


Jan 18th, 2007

India has been difficult for me this time around. I have tried to fall in love again, but it didn't happen. I don't suppose it ever happens, with countries or with people, when we ‘try.’ I felt obliged to try because I was in love with it before, and because it is the place of my emotional roots. That place of my childhood lives in my heart now as an emotional abstraction, an imaginary number, such as the square root of negative one.

India is racing towards something, I know not what. Various claims to superpowerdom, economic booms, world class competitive edges all fall flat and sound like so much hype orchestrated by a few -- for a few. The benefits are largely for the few living it up in posh flats in city centres, and 5-star resorts in Goa and other beaches. The cost of such growth will be borne by every poor child for the next 50 years, in the form of mind boggling air, water and earth pollution, and staggering poverty. India's rich history of architecture, religion, intellect, music, art, mathematics, spirituality and multiculturalism all mean nothing as they are eclipsed by the one main system of belief that money is God. Money is the one most important item of worship. This is of course true everywhere, but only India has temples, mosques and altars every 20 meters, adulating everything from Christ (in Goa) to Shiva, Kali, Islam and so many more. Only India has the fantastically profound and explicit philosophy of transcending materialism. Philosophically, theoretically. Not in practice.

The Taj Mahal lays like a humongous breathtaking jewel, in a city of unbelievable dirt, pollution, chaos and open sewers. I would trade all the monuments and buildings of India, all the gold and jewels of India, transport them away in exchange for an ecologically sustainable economy where every human being has enough food, shelter, education and protection from abuse: verbal, physical, emotional, mental, and sexual; an India where there is breathable air, recycling, clean water and land enough to grow pure food for everyone, locally.

The pollution that I have been objecting to stridently in my postings is a metaphor for the incredible neglect that I have seen human beings have for one another here. If we cannot respect each other, there is little chance that we can respect our earth. While there is a huge amount of love and attachment to children in families, I have seen them by in large be treated with disrespect: hit gratuitously, yelled at, pushed aside, laughed at, scorned, in the community by strangers, but also within families by parents and grandparents. The archaic education systems condemn them to days of rote learning and horrendous fear-mongering by teachers ready to physically punish with a ruler and ridicule the child in front of everyone. This is terrorism.

The humiliation and trauma are not consciously inflicted, but that is the result. It is just the way things are. No one seems to think that there is a discrepancy between loving your child and ignoring his psychic pain. And so it is with animals, spouses and the earth, all treated with equal amounts of insensitivity. As many of my Indian friends have said, it is a disconnect that happens when you are thrust unceremoniously from village to city in search of wage work, robbed of your land by a feudal mafioso that rapes and tortures you if you object. This is all compounded by living under colonialism for hundreds of years: the Moguls, the British and now globalization; self esteem is so low it's hard to measure.

Who's got time to do anything but survive, which is a priority for the vast majority of people here.

This is not about comparing India with Canada. I can list what ails Canada, easily. This is about my experience here. There is no race for first place or last place.

My India is a big wounded, bleeding family with open sores. It hurts. It really hurts. It hurts so much I want to run away to wallow in my own brand of soma: Life in Canada.

Yes, there is ‘resilience’ amongst my people. Yes, there is tenacity,Yes, there are thousands of dedicated intelligent people working to change things in India. Yes, there is hope. Some hope.

I just hope that the big change comes before too many people, animals and the environment have suffered unnecessarily and die horrible deaths.

Kali Yuga (The Age of Darkness) can't finish soon enough for me. Come on, the new age. Come on, the big change. Come now. My door is open and I will gladly be your handmaid, your coolie.



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