I had been to Digha to take time off for a few days and had a great time (well mostly).
I took the Tamralipta Express from Howrah at around 6:40 in the morning. It was a pleasant ride thanks to the comfy chairs and the AC.
However you cannot help but notice the view through the glass windows...a view which may seem pleasant to some but can be a bit disturbing to many.
Some might say the above pic is of the great Indian rural area. Well yes it is, and just how extensive these rural areas are, I got a sense of that day. Within an hour of leaving Howrah, the train was making its way through villages, fields and barren lands so extensive that a million Kolkatas would fit comfortably in those unending realms of emptiness. I could see kids, even adults sometimes, watching with innocent awe and waving at our train as it literally flew past them, almost as if ignoring the amusement of these 'lesser than the lesser mortals'. The villages and the villagers seemed oblivious to modernity and the industrial wave that has swept the capital city only a few hundred miles away. There are no schools, no hospitals, no roads, in most cases no electricity and no proper facilities around, yet these people continue to survive in these conditions. We dont find them in the news because well, they dont make interesting stories! After all, we 'urban' Indians living in cities want to shake off the 'third world' tag this country has been painfully carrying for so many years. Hence, the 'news' about the latest night clubs in the city or the latest McDonald's branch is far more interesting and perhaps more important to us.
What we fail to realise is that we cannot be part of the hallowed 'first world' when more than half of our country is in shambles! These 'interiors' need to be integrated into the new India, a more prosperous India. The India where everyone has access to at least all the basic amenities. I dont know why, but I feel a strange pang when I find foreigners taking pics of the less privileged. Are they for 'show' or are they 'pieces of display'? Well I dont blame them either, because it looks like our government wants to take advantage of this 'third world India' image and earn some moolah even though it causes irreparable damage to the nation's image, after all who can forget the 'Slum Tour' of Mumbai, now very famous thanks to a 'great movie' Slumdog Millionaire!
Bottom line, we are living in denial, we all are. Like it or not. We simply cannot ignore the fact that about half of our country (if not more) doesnt have access to proper sanitation, education, health and transportation. They are the ones who toil day and night to meet our voracious demands for food consumption. These are our countrymen, they are our fellow citizens, and they are being deprived. And I say this to the people who matter, our 'leaders', let us no longer turn a deaf ear to their plight, to their miseries and their cries.