Saturday, April 3, 2010

Some home truths

So far my blogs are telling of my time in India – places I’ve been and people I’ve met. I’ve been receiving emails and messages on Facebook from friends saying ‘it looks like you’re having a great time’. And I am.

But the realities of India and why NGOs operate here are as follows:
  • 450 million Indians live below the poverty line, $1.25 per day – that’s 1/3 of the world’s poor
  • 1 million women die in child birth here every year
  • Due to urbanisation the urban poor are traditionally forgotten
  • Dalits (low caste) and Adivasis (indigenous, tribal people) make up 24% of the population
  • Every hour 1 person dies in Delhi due to air pollution
  • 40% of the population are between 25 and 30 years old
  • This week the Indian government started working on the 2011 census - the first time they will ever attempt to count every person living in this vast country. In my opinion this is unrealistic. As it is many government officials don't even know the location of every village in their state some as so remote.
  • This week (2010) the Indian government passed the ‘Right to Education’ bill. Fabulous. But will this end the culture of girl children staying at home to mind the family if for whatever reason the mother is unable to do so. Having a right to eduction will not change thousands of years of culture.
  • Everyone here has a ‘Right to Work’. To work you need to have a work card. To know about this you have to be able to read, or at least afford a radio. You also need to be able to sign your name on the application form and the card itself. What happens if you haven't had any eduction?
  • 9% of GDP comes from money brought into the country by INGOs
  • 99% of money given to the state of Orissa by the national government never makes it to the people who need it
  • Less than 1/3 of the population have access to toilets
  • According to a recent report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India's population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India.
  • In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males. In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population.
  • The accepted reason for such a disparity is the practice of female infanticide in India, prompted by the existence of a dowry system which requires the family to pay out a great deal of money when a female child is married. For a poor family, the birth of a girl child can signal the beginning of financial ruin and extreme hardship.
  • Orissa (the state where I’m based) is still in 2010 a ‘starvation state’. As recently as last week it was reported that 50 people starved to death in Bolangir in the west of the state

I could go on, but at least this gives an impression of why there are so many NGOs and INGOs throughout India.

Friday, April 2, 2010

If you have some spare change.........

Easter Sunday is fast approaching.
You're looking forward to your Easter eggs  - lucky things
But hopefully you've been putting a few cents away during Lent for those in need. If anyone is still deciding what charity to give to please think of VSO. It costs the organization over €30,000 per year to train and provide living allowances and accommodation to each volunteer overseas. 
You can donate through and put in my name. Thank you

25 things to do while in India (a.k.a the reason they invented chocolate !)

Disclaimer: This list was written as a Word doc when the author was having a very bad day, but now sees the funny side of it and has put it on her blog. Therefore no correspondence will be entered into etc etc etc

  1. Waiting.
  2. Waiting.
  3. Waiting.
  4. Taking a deep breath when your internet service provider promises you internet reconnection in one hour and eight hours later you’re still waiting.
  5. Trying not to scream when your internet service provider tells you for the seventh time in ten days you have used your monthly download allowance when you’re only calling to explain you will pay them if they provide some more.
  6. Laughing out loud when your internet service provider asks you to email a request for more download when your internet is down and that’s why you’re speaking with them in the first place. (Note to self – don’t download during day time hours anymore. Not worth the hassle)
  7. Smiling when you’re with a group of people who refuse to speak English when you’re with them even though you don’t speak their language and they all speak English fluently.
  8. Getting used to the idea that the shop assistants have to go through your shopping bags before you leave the shop even though they know what they contain as they have packed them only ten seconds earlier.
  9. Trying to understand how men find it acceptable to urinate in the street without any sense of the need to be discrete (I say discrete as expecting it not to happen at all is not an option).
  10. Trying to understand why people spit in the street, constantly. (ditto)
  11. Trying to understand why motorbike drivers have to practically drive over you even though there’s nothing else on the road apart from you and them.
  12. Holding on for dear life when your auto driver chooses to drive against four lanes of traffic in morning rush hour to get you to the office in the fastest possible time (the alternative and safer route would add a whole 30 seconds extra to the journey).
  13. Trying to work out why auto drivers at the other side of the road, going in the opposite direction, with passengers already, stop on the road and wait for you to cross even though you have made no indication to them that you intend using an auto  - it’s a lovely cool evening and walking is just fine, thank you.
  14. Pretending not to notice men staring at you.
  15. Accepting that it’s ok now and then to lose your cool with the more obvious ones (although I don’t think the four guys who got off their motorbikes a few weeks ago to stare understood I was being sarcastic when I decided to do a little pirouette in front of them). Now I just wear my sunglasses and stare back.
  16. Accepting that no matter what time you go to bed you’re going to wake at 5.30am as all your neighbours are on a different timetable to you.
  17. Understanding that the answer ‘yes’ is just a three letter word with little meaning.
  18. Accepting that when you book a maintenance man to come to your apartment (having waited six weeks already) and been promised a particular time, he’s not actually going to turn up.
  19. Waiting
  20. Waiting
  21. Accepting that being sweaty is ok.
  22. Travelling nearly 10km (and maybe 15km depending on availability) across town just to buy toilet paper.
  23. Accepting that your local ‘bakery’ never actually has any bread when you go in to buy some.
  24. Drinking water. Lots.
  25. Oh yeah – and WAITING

The moral of the story?

Patience is truly a virtue.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

City Life

Bulls and cows, water buffalo, birds (very loud), dogs (everywhere), goats, birds, gheccos (in my bedroom – a good thing as they eat mosquitos), mosquitos (not a good thing as they like me tooooooo  much), ants (big and small – they like me too but not as much as mosquitos), spiders (lots), cats and little striped squirrels (cute) and the odd monkey.

They’re all here.