Can India become a scientific superpower?
India: the beautiful appearance of a superpower
The Indian government invests a lot of forces in illusions - the consequences for the bulk of the population are already catastrophic and will be for the rest of the world as well
It is pouring rain at New Jalpaiguri train station in northern India. At the far end of the platform, two homeless people get into an argument because one of them denies the other access under the protective roof.
They both wear ragged clothes and with their tired movements, in which they drag their feet weakly over the floor, they have a resemblance to zombies. But after a long back and forth they suddenly hit each other with iron rods, each stroke pure anger - full of energy. Then a second homeless man comes up and hits the person seeking protection over the head with a bamboo tube. The victim reflexively grabs the new attacker by the neck.
A few moments later half a dozen ragged men came limping on - iron bars and wooden slats studded with nails that they had from a nearby construction site: The first blow hit the head of the lone fighter with a crash. Since still nobody intervenes, I get up, jump in between and shout: "Bas (stop)."
Immediately the thugs back up a few steps and stare at me. Not much human can come out of her cloudy eyes, except instinct. Instinct that tells them that I belong to a higher caste. Another "Bas!" to resolve the situation. This is not a feat. In India, religion still keeps society halfway under control with the help of the Hindu caste system.
An overweight couple watched the scene calmly. The man just looking up from his cell phone every now and then, as if looking at a couple of ants feeding on an insect and the woman who is stuffing something deep fried into her. Unimportant, also for the Indian crime statistics, which are nevertheless increasing slowly but steadily. The middle-class couple also don't have the street kids on the opposite platform: beings who sniff glue and "playfully" kick each other and head into a headlock until the other one howls - always big versus small.
According to the organization Save the Children two million children are said to live mainly on the streets and train stations of India's major cities. There are also estimates that go from over three million. According to the experience of aid organizations, 80 percent of Indian street children sniff glue every day.
The lines are not intended to be taken as an indication that India is a violent country. It is true that outside the centers for the middle class and Disneylands the tourists in the struggle to distribute the crumbs are getting rougher, but in relation to poverty India is an impressively peaceful country when it comes to open violence.
But even a look away from a platform is enough and the bill that the government wants to convey collapses. The appearance that India is a progressive superpower that will soon offer its citizens the same standard of living as its Western counterparts.
The leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of the state of Punjab experienced a similar experience when she had to get on a normal express train: She reached her destination 10 hours late. In response to this piece of Indian reality, outside of the expensive Rajdhani trains for the middle class, she asked her boss Narendra Modi to forget about the planned rocket train and yet please take care of the mass of Indian travelers.
But a 300 km / h express train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad for the upper middle class fits better with Modi's image of India, which he wants to sell to the rest of the world, than collapsing station bridges and delayed trains.
The fact that the $ 17 billion rocket train is being financed by an almost free loan from the Japanese government is a perfectly normal Modi truth: In the first year alone, the cost of borrowing increased by $ 860 million due to the decline in the Indian rupee.
When it comes to energy, too, Modi sings the song about the "green" power of the West, although the facts give him the lie: If everything goes according to plan, India will double its consumption of coal for electricity generation by 2037. It is true that India would then also have lower per capita emissions2 than every person in the western world, but in its totality with 1.35 billion inhabitants, India would give the earth a chunk to swallow that it would probably not be able to cope with.
When it comes to the dirt in rivers, the government is also using all its power to make appearances: During this year's Ard Kumbha Mela, 10 times more water was discharged than usual, so that two million visitors while bathing in the Ganges believed that Modi had kept his election promise.
But here, too, the facts speak a different language: The pollution of the corridor has increased since Modi took office in 2014. Only 30 percent of the wastewater is treated in some way, which can also mean that only the coarse rubbish such as plastic bags is filtered out. Our own observations confirm this.
And it's not just Modi who works with the certificate in India. Last year the Tamil Nadu state government banned the manufacture of plastic. Nothing has changed, because the government added the exception to its ban that retailers are allowed to buy plastic from other federal states. Every day 26,000 tons of plastic are used in India, 40 percent of which are no longer "found" by the professional group of plastic collectors.
The Modi government tried something similar when it grandly banned the import of plastic waste in 2016. But India's environmental groups pointed out that companies in special economic zones are exempt. In March 2019, shortly before the general election, the government closed the loopholes - the abuse had become too obvious.
Indian realities resulting from this for the mass of the population
While in Germany the first politicians are asking whether living shouldn't be a basic right in addition to water and air, India does not even have the last two things: Those who do not have an air filter in India's big cities can assume that theirs Life expectancy up to twelve years is falling.
The same applies to those who do not buy their water dearly or who do not use a water filter. In the case of food, things are looking just as bad, as every new of the few studies in this area shows: 46 percent of all foods examined in 22 markets in Chennai, southern India, were heavily infested with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Telepolis has already reported that one of the rare controls in Kolkata also found tons of decayed dog and cat meat, as has lead-containing vegetables.
Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan recently showed how the government reacts to uncomfortable studies: He described a study as meaningless which stated that 1.2 million Indians died as a result of air pollution in 2017. Then Vardhan repeated his opinion that there was no evidence that air pollution could be linked to death.
A farmer at the gates of Delhi showed me that the Indian middle class in the big cities in particular is not innocent of the conditions: "Because the water from our clean canal has been diverted to meet the growing needs of the city dwellers, we now have to sprinkle our fields with industrial wastewater" , then the wiry 50-year-old's voice became hard: "It should be fine with me. Yields have increased since we started using the 'nutrient-rich' water. Of course, I don't eat my own vegetables."
The approaching skyscrapers of the growing monster Delhi and the black smoke of two nearby brick factories indicate why the farmer has little sympathy for his customers: Because they show no interest in people like him.
The life of a farmer with his two children who had to give up his fields and now lives in a plastic shed on the bank of the stinking Yamuna River in Delhi was too brutal to publish here.
The Indian government prefers to refer to tiny showcase projects, such as in Sikkim. The German media then spread misleading reports about the beautiful appearance of a biotope without questioning them. But even in the state of Sikkim, on the border with China, a look away is enough: Tax-free alcohol and a bubbling source of money called "environmentally friendly" hydropower have lulled most of the population.
On the Tista River, which flows through Sikkim, the government has built 36 dams, some of them huge, or they are under construction. Sikkim is located in an earthquake area: in 2011 there was an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 M.w. In 2013 and 2015 to 5 mw. In August 2016, a landslide triggered by the monsoon rains caused an artificial dam above Dikchu. Thousands of people at the lower part of the Tista River were evacuated - luck in particular prevented the disaster.
The increase in glacier lakes in the north of Sikkim, which can erupt at any time and wash down the Tista, is also a threat to the dams. It is well known that river damming causes long-term damage to the environment.
When it comes to alcoholism, it is usually women in India who prevent their child's head from drinking itself to death. In Sikkim this bulwark is no longer available, as women are the greatest drinkers in India.
There is probably only one reason why Sikkim's men are not officially the biggest drinkers in the country: Illegally home-made alcohol is still a cultural asset here, and scientists counted more than 10 different types of "homemade".
In addition, the beautiful appearance of Sikkim also has a high price for neighboring Bangladesh: in winter and spring, when the farmers in Bangladesh urgently need the water, hardly any water flows from the Tista in India over the border. When the monsoons shower their eastern neighbor with water, the Indians open the locks of the Tistas. But when China builds a dam in the upper part of the Ganges, the Indian government complains.
The world's largest health insurance company advertised by Modi is also more apparent, because in the states of Kerala and Karnataka there are already state health systems that are proven to work better, but without making one of Modi's minions rich.
Even behind the beautiful figures of Indian economic growth, which not even neoliberals believe, hide blatant realities: The highest number of unemployed in 45 years and a rapidly increasing income inequality.
Most of the owners of the Blue card for highly qualified foreigners in Germany. The number of Indian students in Germany has also doubled since 2013. The fact that rich Indians still prefer to store their money in Switzerland clearly shows where India’s eyes are directed.
Even Modi, with its beautiful appearance of fast trains, health insurance for everyone, ecological electricity and clean rivers, has copied this in Europe. He can still rely on the neoliberals in the western world, who need economic growth to maintain the appearance at home, but Modi has a problem: India is far from ready to simply outsource things that tarnish the beautiful appearance .
That is why five more fashion years will lead India further towards catastrophe, although it is actually already there, because the previous government of the India Congress was also more important in appearance. Just like in the US with Trump, in India with Modi, "evil" did not fall from the sky overnight. In India, too, the established parties have leveled the ground on which alleged saviors could grow.
Indian politics has nothing of its own to offer, even many of its laws still come from the former colonial rulers. Modi's distractions from the main problems are also practiced with old hats such as nationalism and hatred of minorities.
Whatever is initiated in the western world will happen delayed and increasingly also in India - only to outsource the consequences of Prosperity at any priceit's too late. But because the western world was still able to do it and is still practicing it, the West should also start the system change - the jobs that cheap production creates in countries like Bangladesh are out of proportion to the follow-up costs.
In India about 270 million people live on 30 rupees a day, about 39 cents. Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi's proposal to pay them a monthly basic income, which should be the equivalent of around 60 euros, is a step in the right direction. But what India's children also need would be equal opportunities at the beginning of their lives.
In my elementary school class in what was then the rough working-class district of Berlin-Wedding, we had a migrant portion of well over 50 percent. Nevertheless, many of them have graduated from high school or have made their way without a high school diploma - one became a Bayern coach with a high school diploma. Her parents were simple workers, police officers or entrepreneurs, but their children went to the same school and had largely equal opportunities. Last year I spent a day in a primary school in Süd-Neukölln: Regardless of whether they were Germans or migrants: the students came from a single milieu - these are "Indian caste" states.Read comments (74 posts) https://heise.de/-4420166Report errorPrint
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