March 28, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

India: a BRIC short of a full load

It was confusing. The India I saw before my eyes had little in common with the India that I’ve been reading about or the India on Indian TV.  Even the faces were paler, and the ads showed westernised, middle class situations and settings.

Outside my tour bus, rubbish along the roads, nonexistent public facilities in many situations, flooding four star hotel bathrooms and unending subsistence villages were the norm.

Where was the India of call centres, Bollywood, the economic power creeping up on China’s impressive record?

But I am told there are many Indias, all of them real, all of them illusions.

A few reality checks as a result of first hand experience: the caste system is so entrenched that official documents require its identification, and the UK government is now amending their discrimination laws to include caste, as a result of migrants from the sub-continent bringing their sad attitudes with them. A family disowning a son for marrying into the untouchable caste is truly sad.

When one thinks of China, one does not think of colourful, ritualised worship and endless temples to some 300,000 deities.  Some 30% of India’s fresh food goes to waste due to inefficient roads and transport and storage. Put similar sets of statistics together and it is easy to conclude that India is unlikely to be a major world power anytime soon.

As the first of the BRIC nations I have visited, my views may be premature. Brazil, Russia and China await me.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 6:00 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. This is certainly an eye opening story. I’m saddened to hear that the UK government is going to codify discrimination. I hope the Australian government does not try to copy this horrendous policy. I am looking forward to reading more reports.  

    Comment by Scott — March 28, 2010 @ 6:39 am

  2. Rhonda and others,

    For more insights, including to feel India’s underbelly, read ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravinda Adiga.

    A compelling story with an unexpected happy ending. It won 2008 Man Booker Prize and so is available in many/most bookstores.

    And you don’t need equality to become a superpower. As Adiga explains this century is for the ‘brown man and yellow man’. It is The West, and the ‘white man’ that is in terminal decline – we just can’t see it yet.

    Comment by Jennifer Marohasy — March 28, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

  3. Ronda Jambe wrote in “India: a BRIC short of a full load” March 28, 2010:

    >… The India I saw before my eyes had little in common with the India that I’ve been reading about …

    The India of call centres and economic power is intermixed with the old India. I saw this at Bangalore airport, which is the centre of India’s aerospace industry and Goa, its Naval base. It helps to think of India as a federation of states, like the EU, rather than as one country.

    See my “India: the EU of Asia: Living in an Indian Village in Goa for Three Weeks”: .

    Comment by Tom Worthington — March 29, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  4. You’ll need much more than a quick trip to India to appreciate its dynamics. It is in fact powering ahead though it is true that it will take time for all the changes to percolate through the different social strata. However much is changing relatively fast, including changes to the caste system. Kerala is claiming 100 percent literacy. There is so much more to India than appears on its surface, take time to get to know it before judging too harshly.

    Comment by Sharon — March 29, 2010 @ 1:34 am

  5. Scott, to clarify, the UK is amending its legislation to ban caste discrimination, not perpetuate it.

    And thanks, Jennifer, White Tiger was on my list, a must read apparently.

    Tom, is your article available online?

    It is hard not to feel a wistful affection for the Indians, as their humour and exuberance was much apparent. On the other hand, the optimism I so want to feel for the world has to be tempered by the memory of so much garbage and so many struggling poor people.

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — March 29, 2010 @ 4:52 am

  6. Ronda Jambe wrote March 29, 2010 @ 4:52 am:

    >Tom, is your article available online?

    Yes, “India: the EU of Asia, Living in an Indian Village in Goa for Three Weeks”, January 2005, is at:

    This is summarised from about thirty blog postings I made, which are indexed at the same web page:

    * Art Deco Building
    * Networked Nuns
    * Tiled Roof
    * Indian Electric Car
    * Indian Documentary Film and Literature
    * The Edge of the City in India
    * Bus and Taxi Shrines
    * Hindu Carving at Bondla
    * Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
    * Handheld Web
    * Spice Farm
    * Ore Barges
    * Not Fishing
    * Konkan Railway Bridge
    * Electronic Tourist Kiosk
    * Tropical Resort in Goa
    * Cybercafes in Mapusa
    * Indian Navy Information Warfare Squadron
    * Kator Re Bhaji: Through Corridors of Power
    * Indian office in Panjim
    * School of Art, Panjim
    * Ferry Cross the Mandovi River
    * Indian School
    * Miller, Baker, IT Engineer
    * Village Bike
    * Shell Windows
    * Life in the Lanes
    * Goan Front and Back Doors
    * Goan Village
    * Konkan Railway
    * Rice Fields and Stone Churches
    * Monorail
    * Southern India
    * On Target

    Comment by Tom Worthington — March 29, 2010 @ 7:03 am

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