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Vikas Kamat
 Vikas Kamat is a programmer- entrepreneur living in Birmingham AL. This blog is a complex mix of Indian culture, life in southern USA, computer sciences, and sports. Opinions are his own.
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IndiaInfo: It's a Topsy, Turvy World.

Foremost, a bow and  a hat tip to Dr. Vidyasagar for speaking up on an important subject, educating the masses of India on the inside matters of the "American Dream",  and inspiring youngsters in India to pursue their dreams while living in India, even while risking his own reputation as an intellectual, and opening himself to criticism and ridicule, this blog entry being an instance.

Prof. M. Vidyasagar takes on the often discussed, and silly topic of comparing India with USA. If the purpose of the article was to provide hope and motivation to the RRIs (the real Indians), and inspiration to CR2Is (Indians abroad Considering Returning to India), he succeeds. He is right on target about RNIs (Resident non-Indians), people taking loans after loans to maintain legal status at US schools, and advancements in Indian IT/Telcom infrastructure.

However, I feel that the author comes out as an unripe academic without the knowledge of India's greatest problems. -- I am sure all of us in our eighth grade had a Mr. SmartyPants, who'd come up with irrelevant concepts and statistics just not to lose an argument.  For instance, Vidyasagar in an effort to compare standards of living, says that the price a coffee in an air-conditioned room is cheaper in India than in USA. I wonder what percentage of people in India he is talking about (less than 0.001%). He starts his comparison of the currencies at Rs. 50 and not at Rs.4 when my father returned to India, not even at Rs.18 when I left India not so long ago.

He also makes the grave mistake of assuming that everybody leaves India for better economic opportunity. It might be true of many people, but not of everyone. Some people are misfits in India who cannot withstand the hopelessly complex network of  caste, bollywood, mafia, poverty, nepotism, and politics. He forgets that most people's conscience would bother them to come out of five-star hotel to witness a barefooted pregnant woman working on a construction site.

On a recent visit to India, my wife and I were traveling in a friend's car via a polluted area of Bangalore. My wife was appalled by the pollution outside, to which the friend assured "Don't worry Dr. Kamat, my car is air-conditioned". That sentence and attitude summarizes the essence of Vidyasagar's essay. "I am doing well, I do not have a problem, so India is doing well, and India doesn't have a problem!!"

IMHO, until the status of the pregnant laborer improves, all this comparison of India with a developed nation is laughable. I honestly believe that the difference between the rich and the poor is much greater today in India, and the opportunities for the have-nots are much smaller today in India than it was ten years ago.

I end my notes with a profound quote by Basavanna that I often tell people who compare standards of living in different societies in order to consider immigration.

"One who is adequate here, will be adequate there." 
-- Basavanna, 12th century sage, referring to earth and heaven.

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(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)First Written: Monday, January 6, 2003
Last Modified: 1/8/2003

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