It is time, after almost six months spent in India, to scratch a little below the surface and try to see what problems this country with more than 1 billion and 300 million inhabitants is facing within.
As someone who comes from a small country — the size of my neighborhood within Pune, in terms of population, from no more than 3 million inhabitants, which is a mirror of corrupt everyday life where it is valid “where everyone steals no one steals”, which I wrote in MOST- in (Journal of Culture, Arts and Sciences, Mostar, BiH back in 2001 and later on in my Book “Organized anarchy“ in BiH, 2004 and within the Book of essay, as encircling published essays from Eurasia Review 2013-2014 titled “Bosnia and Hezegovina and XXI century“ in 2014) — it was not difficult for me to recognize the assumptions, but also the corruption itself within the value system in India. How? Let’s start with auto-rickshaw drivers who deductively determine the price of driving, violating the moral rules of the profession that everyone who drives is the same.
It has happened to me more than once that I had to stop an auto-rickshaw in front of the DYPIU University Campus (I could not get in touch with OLA, and I wrote about it within this ER Journal earlier) and if I told the driver the address of my apartment, he would “look at me”(like checking the quantity of ammount I am ready to pay) and say 50, 60, 70 and even up to 80 INR – Indian Rupees (1,04 USA $ Dollars), while the price varies from 42 to 46 INR (approx. 0,57 USA $ Dollars), if you order a ride online. So, don’t let them „row accross“ you, but always check the best possible variants even around transportation.
I will never forget while unsuccessfully, for the first time, I was looking (back in October 2021) for the opportunity to obtain eFRRO (a permit for a foreigner to work and reside in India, which is required in addition to the work visa I have) when I saw understood a lot of things about the corruption in India, through non-verbal signs of the body of a local police officer, while he was talking with my colleague from the University administration.
What did I see? That it is necessary to “pay and swing”. Later, I found out that he asked for 20,000 INR (about 286,14 USA $ Dollars) to „fix“ eFRRO. I refused coldly (later I got eFRRO in the regular process, very quickly) because I have principles. And of course, “lower” in most cases, but “never a slave”, so whatever.
You know the number of inhabitants (more than 1 billion and 350 million), and did you know that “only”, according to the 2011 census, 74.04% of the population is literate? I mean literacy in the context of the art of reading and writing, that is, knowledge of the alphabet. And they are working on digitalization, that is, e-Government. It’s like putting a Formula 1 engine in a horse-drawn carriage. Why? Because in India, if 25.96% are illiterate, and that means – there are more than 300 million people. Illiterate. Within basic literacy.
Not to mention functional, digital, information, media and education literacy, or e-learning at a distance. Imagine what the populists (read: fascist chauvinists like in Balkans) can do with them. If it was here to bring our fascist chauvinists from the Balkans, it would be paradise. For them. Fortunately, this is a democratic state, where there is the rule of law. And security? So far, I have not had any problems walking around the city where I live during the day, and at night (although now during the day in BiH) and in Sarajevo, the capital of BiH, it is not very safe.
And one more thing, the police are nowhere in sight here in India, but they are there, right if they are wanted. I immediately distance myself because I am talking about the state (and there are 28 of them in this populous country) of Maharahstra where I currently live and work. For other states within the country of India, I cannot guarantee anything, because I deal with factual journalism, and not current, so present fake and copy / paste journalism. Especially within the area of South-east Europe. In which the “journalists” from the Balkans are doctors of manipulation sciences!
But the fact is that in India there is quite a disparity between rural and urban areas and between male and female populations. When it comes to the relationship between the male and female population, I must say publicly (and I did, when the Indian UGC – University Grant Commission visited our University in late November 2021, by directly responding to their question about women’s vulnerability – „Is there a violation of human rights at DY Patil nternational University?“ – and I answered in front of about 200 colleagues and 6 members of the Commission): “Instead of asking what men’s rights are, because as you can see, of the 200 present today and here in the amphitheater, 75% are women, professors and assistant professors, you ask about women’s rights. And what about our rights? Men’s rights here and today? ” Smiles and approvals followed, and members of the Commission immediately moved on to other, much more focused academic issues.
The education system in India has long been accused of being too theory-oriented rather than practice-oriented. Students fight for good grades and not for further development of knowledge. As I say to the students: “You came here with the assumptions of knowledge and it is up to us to work together, you and I, to further improve and develop your knowledge.” Academic freedom is very present in India, so my university is among to those higher education institutions that are at the forefront of innovation in education. Of course, there is already a reflection of our way of working, both at public and private universities in Pune.
Namely, they open study programs taking over the same from us, when it comes to bio-technical and information sciences. When we talk about media and journalism, our advantage is the connection, and through my colleagues from India who have made journalism a step higher and entered higher education by developing their own orientations towards science, with the media at the local and state level. Although, they have to learn a lot of what a science means, they are on good path. Hopefully will succeed.
The internship here is extremely demanding and starts in the first year and until the final year of media and journalism studies, depending on the direction in which students focus: journalism, production and / or advertising`/ PR. Eo ipso, Bosnian and Herzegovinian with a chair in India (Year I: “Communications: Concept & Processes”; Year II: “Media Laws & Ethics” and Year III: “Scientific Research Methodology – Final Thesis, Dissertation” “shows as knowledge knows no bounds. Except in the country you come from. Well, there, in that Bosnia and Herzegovina, one-minded party tribe (with honorable, but really small exceptions, among which I single out my colleague Nerzuk Ćurak from Faculty of Political sciences of University of Sarajevo), and as I said in an interview for one of the reputable BiH portals it (that one-minded party tribe) created: “Ignorance is no longer just power, today it is a way of life.”
Sanitation is a distinct problem in India. Not with me, here, far away from me it is. Far away from the apartment and all the way to the university, where our toilets are like in the best airports in the world, and it’s about the Campus. Although, out of 494 million inhabitants in the world without their own toilet at home, there are currently about 110 million such cases in India. If you compare it with the authorities until the arrival of today’s prime minister, that is a significant improvement in the situation, which went up to 350 million such cases until ten years ago. However, even 110 million people (according to government information) is a large number, which is just under 10%, although UN sources say the number is close to 200 million (up to 15% of the population).
Contrasts of new buildings and small “favelas”, tin houses and no internal toilets in the immediate vicinity can be seen in big cities, including Pune, which is one of the cleanest cities in India. But hopefully that too will be overcome soon. Tip: Stick to familiar areas. Shopping centers and famous, large markets, not to mention the appropriate cafes and restaurants. There are many small restaurants, which they call “hotels” (sic!) and which are just a little bigger tobacconists cabins and a couple of tables, which do not exude cleanliness, but their food is extremely tasty. And healthy, believe me. I’m still alive, here. And a few times, in a hurry, I stopped by “onion pakode” (donuts with onions) and frequented myself.
There are other problems in India, such as poverty, in a country where about 300 million people live below the poverty line, then a health system that is good for us foreigners (we can afford it, but also academic personal within DYPIU University as such), while for most Indians it is not because for about 50% of rural people there is still no satisfactory health care and the mortality rate is quite high per 1000 newborns and it is 34. About air and environmental pollution should be a special essay, not for this city of Pune, but for Mumbai certainly. I was there and felt the difference in my respiratory organs. I coughed two days after returning to Pune. Although the Government of India also supports the “green” policy, there is still a long way to go to “clean and green” India. There are no sewage treatment systems and we all know that the Ganges and Yamuna are the most polluted rivers in India. But they are working on shaping sustainable development. Slowly but surely.
There is, further, the infrastructure that is good in big cities and the connections between them (electricity, water, roads), but as soon as you deviate a little from the road, that is exactly what is missing, in rural areas. Unemployment is very pronounced. I know a few of my colleagues who are separated from their wives because they work in other Indian states, and one has a case where his wife works as a teacher in Dubai, UAE, so they don’t see each other that often. Just like me with my lady wife. Then there is agriculture, because India is known around the world for its agriculture. However, there are many problems here as well – problems with irrigation, lack of agricultural tools, as well as appropriate incentives. Estimates say that by 2050. the percentage of agricultural workers (survey from 2018) in the total labor force is likely to fall to 25.7% by 2050. from 58.2% in 2001.
And…What about the current War in Ukraine?
I talked recently at the Sunil’s Wax Museum in Lonevala (45 kilometres from Pune), at least I tried, about the situtaion on Ukraine, with the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Modi. He was quiet. Just like India, restrained about the situation with Ukraine at the UN. Of course, that is his right. History will evaluate that. If we survive…