Certainly, the class division of very rich, rich, average ,poor and very poor is still there. However, it is of a different kind now than before. There seems to be more tolerance and acceptance amongst people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
By Balwant Sanghera
While visiting India, a few things standout more than others. Regardless ,there are always a few surprises waiting for the visitor. There is no doubt that India has made exceptional progress during the past few years. This is visible almost in every area. Some of the basic necessities that were rare are easily available now. The infrastructure has also vastly improved. The facilities and services have also greatly improved. Also, the artificial boundaries of race/caste system are gradually disappearing. In a sense, India is slowly marching towards a multicultural mosaic.
Certainly, the class division of very rich, rich, average ,poor and very poor is still there. However, it is of a different kind now than before. There seems to be more tolerance and acceptance amongst people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Though this change in attitude is commendable yet a lot more still needs to be accomplished on this front. Despite these changes, some things never seem to change. Take for example, the ever growing traffic congestion and chaos.
Traffic, especially in big cities , is a nightmare. Every day, India puts on the road a number of new and used vehicles. On the roads and highways one can see all makes and models of vehicles from the cheap to the most expensive and the latest ones. However, driver attitude stays the same. It looks like that everyone here is in a big hurry. The words like courtesy and right of way seem to be unheard of here. This poses a lot of risk not only to the driver but also to the passengers. This kind of attitude results in a lot of accidents and fatalities almost on a daily basis. However, there is also another side to the people. It is their drive and will to be resourceful ,hardworking and resilient.
The spirit of entrepreneurship is evident everywhere. In other words the way some people are self employed is just plain amazing. One- person enterprises are evident everywhere. Even in small villages, free enterprisers with their goods on bicycles or small carts are able to make a fairly decent living. The other day, I was very impressed with one individual selling hot dogs and burgers from a small mobile cart . He was pushing the cart from street to street and from village to village. This was quite challenging as most of the village streets and roads are usually rough and full of potholes.
The local newspapers are full of stories from the national and international arena. Of course, their main focus is also on the local happenings. Strangely, there is very little news from Canada. Occasionally, there is news from Canada reported in the Punjabi press but nothing in the English press. Anyway, life here is so busy and overwhelming that one hardly gets any time to think about the news back home other than the welfare of close family members. The on-going elections in U.P. the largest province of India have been dominating the headlines. People here and the rest of India are eagerly waiting for March 6 when the election results of voting in five states including Punjab will be announced. In the meantime life goes on.
LINK Columnist Balwant Sanghera, a local activist, former teacher and Order of BC winner, is currently on a visit to Punjab and will be filing reports whenever he has time from his busy travel schedule.