Mhambi has been redeployed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why do female Indian motorcyclists not wear helmets?

Mhambi has just spent a week in Gurgaon, a fast developing hub and an special economic zone, right outside Delhi India. Mhambi realised a few things on his visit.

There ain't such a thing as a bad curry in India.

But beware, even mild delicious curries, if eaten 3 times a day, could make for a queasy stomachs and burning toilet trips. Another epiphany - Mhambi would never want to be an Indian traffic cop, and most certainly would Mhambi never ever want to be poor in India either.

And why do female Indian motorcyclists not wear helmets?

Boom town Gurgaon

It's obvious that the country is experiencing fast economic growth. With an economy more than 9 times the size if South Africa and almost 4 times the size of Africa India, a country with over a billion people - will increasing punch its weight in the world.

But on the little I saw its infrastructure is very poor. Delhi's airport is allot smaller and lacking in facilities compared to O R Tambo (the ex Jan Smuts) in Johannesburg. It's highways badly designed and traffic a huge problem.

Inequality is - like in South Africa - endemic. Mhambi is not well placed to comment properly on it and India's discriminatory caste system. Unlike South Africa violent crime is seemingly, rather rare, and violent robberies make it to the newspaper that would not have featured in Johannesburg's The Star.

The Delhi electricity grid is straining and power cuts happen regularly a couple of times every day. All large companies operate with their own back-up power. Yet internet access is affordable compared to South African prices, with a 512 mb line a mere £20 (R280) per month.

Worrying for South African industry and workers is the pay of Indian factories. Apparently the workers in India get only about an incredible £12 per month. In South Africa a factory worker can expect between £50 to £80.

It has to be said, that the cost of metropolitan living is much lower for the Indian poor than it would be for South African poor city dwellers. It's disconcertingand uncomfortable for the Indian middle classes but here the poor live and work among the rich. There is none of the apartheid architecture and town-planning that makes South African workers travel far, eat expensively and buy expensive clothes.

Workers unite

Workers in Gurguan and Noida, the other special economic area outside Delhi are not unionised like South African labour. In a BBC program about places like Noida and Gurgaon the contributers express the hope the the new global working class will organise and unionise, and mention that South africa is one of the few developing country examples where this is the case.

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1 comment:

Priya said...

oh i absolutely fell in love with that country when I was there.
but yeah, the way the people drive made my clutch onto my seat and pray. however, it is the most organised form of chaos I have seen.