We have visited a fair few places in India on this trip. We have lots more to see of course, but I thought it might be interesting to pause for a few personal reflections on the India we have seen so far.
This was prompted somewhat by my Dad who having read my postings recently, posed a few interesting questions that I thought I might address...
“How have the unique and distinctive crafts, religions and historic buildings survived apparently unchanged?
Compare European and Japanese and Chinese urban development - is it the size of the country or is it the unsophisticated country populace - will it survive better educated children and the impact of social media?”
Well, from what we have seen so far, changes are probably coming to India - and coming very soon. Rural India is on the decline. The rise in popularity of the city as a place where people want to live is phenomenon that is happening all over the world. And India is no exception. Internal migration is a major challenge here.
It is not just access to the essential services that a city provides (there are severe water shortages in the countryside), but there is little infrastructure to speak of in rural locations, and the wifi is terrible. Like their counterparts around the the world, the young are better informed, restless to communicate, and restless for change.
This desire of the young to wear modern clothes, live a modern lifestyle, and ‘get on in life’ puts inevitable pressure on the ‘old ways.’ Through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter the outside world makes its presence all too clearly known - there are other ways to live.
One of the women we spoke to here has two daughters. She herself had an arranged marriage but told us she would never dream of imposing that system on either of her daughters. And her daughters would never dream of allowing their mother to do it to them. Within one generation, in that family at leat, things have changed for women here.
This might be only a minor readjustment of course and not a revolution. Look at the rise of farmers markets in the UK. There is that sort of melancholy for the past here too. The desire for the authentic. Judging by the packed outdoor markets here I suspect the old ways will still have a large part to play in the future of India. It’s not all office jobs and tech start-ups.
And what of the affect of mass tourism to old India - the new invasion, the new colonists?
A sad tale to end with - in Jhodpur a few people have painted their houses ‘not-blue’ i.e. brown or yellow. The tourism guides have gone round to see them and have told them to paint their properties back to the correct colour blue. “That’s what tourists want to see.” Oh. What next? Disneyland India?
At 1.3 billion and rising, India is projected to be the world's most populous country by 2024, surpassing the population of China.
It will be very interesting to see how India changes in those next 8 years.