Friday, 25 September 2009

The two faces of India

It is 20 years since I was in India. as a visiting lecturer at the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad (left), situated in Bihar, India's poorest province (below).

I found India a deeply disturbing place. I had seen crushing poverty in Africa, and other parts of Asia, but not on the scale that I found in India, where beggars were dying in the streets and the future for the lowest caste 'untouchables' was hopeless.

I always remember a small boy, not much older than my grandsons, his only possession a dirty blanket, sleeping among the rats between the rails of Calcutta station. It was evident that the country was so impoverished that it could do little to help these people.

Even now India is one of the highest recipients of British overseas aid, a sizeable amount of which helps to provide potable water in rural areas. Ironic therefore that India is now spending millions discovering water on the moon!!


  1. Hello Barry,

    I have been fan of you for long from the day i read your text book Mineral Processing Technology and apprciate your contribution to Mineral Industry through MEI and varius other intiatives, which i dont know.

    I am also happy to learn that you were associated with ISM fro such long time. But, I wonder what made you to write this now????

    I think these kind of topics to be addressed by our type of peolpe would only dilute the focus on what we meant to do.

    Whole of the world now know about India and its positive & negatives from rich heritage and golden era, Bristh rule, and to the "Slumdog millionaire".

    I agree India has poverty and major fraction of the us would feel good in highlighting this in international platforms. However, many western broadcasting companys are selling poverty, disturbance, diseases and terrorism only on India. When some good news comes out of India like water on moon, they start stressing more on these like you.

    Where India gets aid from British govt or not and I think,even off late British govt realised and initiated fund for CIS countries where they ruled and exploited, humans to natural resources.

    Brits first settled in Calcutta now "Kolkata" for only its advantage known to every one.

    Now only becuase of aid people need not be held accountable. There are agencies to provide aid and verify the accountability.

    Coming to Moon mission. Its not just India spending on this with such levels of poverty. USA is also continued to spend with history's worst financial "screw up" and also the worst unemployement rate ever in the history of USA. with which the whole world is suffering including Europe.

    Lets criticise what bad with a nation but also be wide hearted to appriciate what is acheived. It can be India, Africa any underdeveloped countries.


  2. Thanks for your comments Rajiv.

    No it is not just India, but the report on India’s moon mission merely served to highlight what a strange twisted world we live in. While millions starve the best brains concentrate their efforts and funding on politically driven ventures. The question is how should we prioritise? There are many other examples of efforts being channelled into ultra-expensive projects demanding the finest brains- the CERN and SETI projects for instance.


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