Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Economic Disparity

I was at a local dhaba about 15 minutes ago when in a serendipidous moment I realized the extent to which hierarchy is established in every single aspect of life in India - from houses to cars to food to vegetables to clothes and so on. I ordered a batch of tandoor rotis (indian tortilla made with wheat flour), but I got them with makhan (butter). It was then that a fellow standing next to me remarked that I was living well; in a society where 30 million survive of 2 dollars or so a day, a buttered roti is a delicacy, if not a dream. Imagine that - A layer of butter in itself implies a luxurious and privileged lifestyle!! It was then that I immediately began to think of any petty difference in my daily life and that of those 30 million wretched indians that had gone unnoticed beforehand. We own a car, and there are only 10 million car owners in India out of 1 billion strong. I eat chicken everyday - that is by far the most talked about "privilege" that often provokes remarks about my ostensible way of living. Non-veg food in general is considered a "luxury" and often reserved for special occasions such as the birth of a child or some other cause of celebration. I sleep in an air-conditioned room - another vivid mark of the rich and wealthy, something often gossiped about when one of the neighbours get its installed in their home. So whats my point? same as the old cliche that we take way too many things for granted, but it is in India that one realizes to thank and appreciate the ability of being above others in a socio-economic aspect, higher up in the heirarchial ladder - even if it is a layer of makhan on the naan or a tandoori chicken.

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