India is at a place where the only way ahead is forward. It is a fascinating time to be in India. Everything around you is changing so fast, you can literally see the dynamism in just months. Teenagers feel old as newer technology creeps in and old people feel way out of touch with not just technology, but even how the society is changing.
It is like watching an actual time lapse, and this is why India is an interesting place to be in.
Despite the hope our country provides, people still look to move out and settle in “greener pastures”. The most popular of these destinations is the United States – the land of opportunity.
I beg to differ on this because despite America’s “first-world might” I still feel India is a better place to live in at this moment.
Why? Here’s why –
1. Their ridiculous gun laws
Thank god we people here cannot just walk into a supermarket and buy an assault rifle with the milk and eggs our mom wanted us to buy.
There have been more gun-related deaths in the USA than there have been terror related deaths in India in the past 10 years. And this is purely because they can buy guns as freely as we would buy Diwali firecrackers. Despite the track record, the USA has done absolutely nothing to counter it.
That is something I think would never happen in India because although we have polarized politics, some sort of a law so that at least the most basic anti-gun rules would have been in place.
2. Stupid government bailout in trillions out of taxpayer’s money in broad daylight
The Americans paid more than $600 billion to bail out banks that made stupid financial decisions. That’s 40 lakh crore rupees of hard earned tax money. Compared to that our biggest 2G spectrum scam cost us 1.7 lakh crore, and the opposing party got the money back after putting the people responsible behind bars (some of them).
Compared to this, the American public still hasn’t gotten any clarifications as to how the money was spent, because their government didn’t have that clause where the companies had to show how they spent their money.
There were controversies where the bailout money was used for giving out bonuses to the top executives who made the shitty decisions in the first place.
There is no way that a scam of this degree could have been executed in India.
The foreign policy of the US is pretty stupid. Since the time of the cold war they have participated in wars in every decade. That means thousands upon thousands of average citizens have to be mobilized to war zones just because a handful of idiots think that a country has WMDs.
More than 400,000 US soldiers have lost their lives since WW II and they are continued to be deployed in active warfare zones in Afghanistan to this day.
This constant state of war has not only traumatized the people but also the economy where it has spent trillions of dollars sustaining it.
I have always thought that the country which is most respectful to its soldiers is the one that sends its troops to fight the least – that’s what diplomacy is for.
And India is doing a good job in protecting its borders and our soldiers are well trained and motivated in protecting our sovereignty, and however corrupt the government may be, it is certainly not eager to wage useless wars and lose precious human lives.
4. Their killer student debts that have ruined lives
Any sincere student can get any college bachelor’s degree in decent money. The average college tuition fees of an American degree is 21 lakh rupees. That is more than the combined tuition fees of any IIM. The worrying trend over there in America is student debt. And they take student debts at crippling interest rates.
The rich irony is that if you are a big shot banker and if your business fails, you can always file for bankruptcy and the taxpayer’s money will be allotted to help you out, but if you are a struggling college graduate, your student loan will never be waivered.
At least, here if you study hard enough, you can get into a decent regional college and take a decent amount as a loan and pay it off when you work hard after graduating.
Obesity is pretty bad in the USA. They are kings in producing and consuming processed food. And it is not as if they get less exercise. Their kids get plenty of exercises. But the obesity rate among kids is 30% – the highest in the world.
If you have been brought by Indian parents, there is a good chance they have given you, at least, one stern lecture about Ghar Ka Khaana and how it can keep you healthy.
The processed food industry is slowly spreading into the Indian market, and cases of obesity have risen in the urban areas, but the damage is still not done completely yet.
Perks of living in a second-world country.
6. Just two choices to vote for in elections
You either have the conservative Republicans or the Democrats to vote for. There is no middle ground. Jut two parties and two contestants, each time, every time. Here in India, if you are not happy with the BJP and Congress you can always vote for the regional parties.
Regional parties have held states for years and years. A classic example would beNaveen Patnaik of BJD in Odisha. Some regional parties even have the power to barter special privileges for the state you live in.
Thus, you actually have more variety in choosing politicians here. And because it is a larger fray, they have a certain pressure to perform too.
8. Terrible healthcare and refusal to accept state-provided healthcare
Whenever I get sick, I go to one of the teaching hospitals around my area. The consultation is free and medicines are cheap as their pharmacies cater to even the poorest.
Medical insurance is not compulsory to get medical attention here, not until now at least. And hospitals may be understaffed, but they won’t reject you just because you didn’t have insurance papers.
In the USA, medical premiums are rising through the roof, and most of them do not even want to embrace the affordable Healthcare Act, where, just like our Narendra Modi’s Jan Dhan Yojana, the national government is setting yup the process for applying for affordable health insurance.
9. Incarceration rates
Turns out, the USA is very harsh with their law enforcement. It should have translated into a perfect crime-free haven, but it didn’t. Crime still happens over there, just like it does here, in spite of one of the highest rates of incarcerations in the world with 716 people in jails per 100,000.
India, on the other hand, has 33 people in jails per 100,000. Does that mean India has low crime? No.
But it does say how strict and redundant some of the prison sentences are in the US. There have been cases where people held with small amounts of marijuana have been jailed for decades while brutal murderers have gotten out after serving 8 years.
10. Despite the myth, it is easier to open a business in India
Studies have shown that it is easier to open and run a business right here in India than it is in America. But every time we talk about India, we are riddled with pessimism from all quarters as if bureaucracy doesn’t exist at all in the USA.
Many graduates from Ivy League colleges in the USA are returning to India to start businesses.
And it is not just India that is reversing this trend of brain drain. China is doing it too.
And if businesses were so easily run in the USA, why would it outsource so many of its business operations away from the homeland? Because it is just too expensive and inconvenient to run a profitable business over there.
11. Brutal commercialization of festivals
Black Friday, Black Thursday, Cyber Monday – days associated with Christmas. Christmas is known for its shopping and Santa Claus rather than the Church and Christ. Ditto with Thanksgiving too, and every festival they have. And the big companies don’t hold back anything when they try to cash in during the festival seasons.
Our festivals are relatively less commercialized. Actually, the sales of firecrackers have reduced during Diwali and so has the sale of colors during Holi. Other festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam are very God-centric – the reason they are celebrated.
I like that the festivals here are still celebrated the way they are supposed to be.
Don’t get me wrong, the United States is a veritable superpower, and there is a reason why it is there – because it has been well-run by intelligent people in its history. But that’s where the problem lies – it is developed to a point where further progress has somehow affected its populace in their health and finances.
In contrast, India has an optimistic young population excited to make it big and take the country further. But with this thirst to achieve, we have a value system that is unique to our country that keeps us grounded.
I wouldn’t want to move out of India to live anywhere else – however glitzy the other countries are.
My heart belongs here, even though the path to the future is riddled with potholes.
And home is always where the heart is.