Tata International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme
India is many things at the same time. India is poor yet rich. India is colourful yet dreary. India is hardworking yet fun loving. India is loud and crowded in the streets yet silent and lonely at sacred places. While some rivalries within India are obvious, two not so obvious ones have crystallized after my first exposure in India.
Rural versus Urban – or is it semirural? Semiurban? The line between rural and urban is easy to draw in textbooks. Rural areas have a low population density, usually much of the land is devoted to agriculture and pollution is likely to be little. The case is opposite for urban areas. Well, it is not so clear cut in India. Skyscrapers are surrounded by fields filled with hundreds of cows; the horse carriage stops next to the limousine; and paved roads quickly transition into muddy streets. While Coca Cola is usually known as the brand which makes its way to the remotest places of this planet, in India, Pepsi gets in the way. Pepsi is everywhere. So is Tata. So is Bollywood. So are whitening and education advertisements. What is rural or urban? Even the locals I asked don’t know.
Expat versus Underprivileged. India is a developing country - that is no secret. But how often expat and underprivileged lives interact on the street was a secret to me. People from all different socio-economic classes rush along the same way, with a huge visible gap between them: while some enter a restaurant, others have to hunt down those who leave the restaurants for alms to survive the day. The rather expat life I find myself in is an inner rivalry for myself. I’m caught between wanting to absorb more of Indian culture - the cheerfulness of the locals I live with, ethical thinking, customs, Bengali words, Bollywood moves ; constantly feeling helpless in the face of the poverty on the streets; being aware of the privilege of having the opportunity to leave India whenever I want to with a purchase of a plane ticket; and at the same time, I fully appreciate and enjoy the possibility to contribute to and learn about working life at the Tata Medical Center.
Rivalries within are neither good nor bad, but they exist; and I have never experienced such contrasting ideas in any other country before. India is many things at the same time. That makes India special.