Diaries of a Gypsy – Insight in a Train

Nikhil Kashyap By Nikhil Kashyap, 18th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/214cwb6c/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>India>Goa

An experience which demonstrates the nature of poverty in India

Dudhsagar Falls

Nestled deep within the Western Ghats, amidst a tropical paradise, at the border of two states, lays a waterfall known as ‘Dudhsagar’; which translates literally to ‘Sea Of Milk’. The falls themselves are quite wonderful. As the Mandovi River descends rapidly, sacrificing potential energy for kinetic energy, the main body of water branches into smaller rivulets and then merges back into the main body of the fall.

Indian Standard Time!

There is only one way to access Dudhsagar falls, by rail. It is also worth noting that only one train runs to and from the location daily. Therefore, if one misses either of these trains, then he/she had better be in tiptop condition to do a lot of walking! Most of the trains passing through this area have already travelled long and far before arriving at this point, so we were told not to expect a lot of legroom upon boarding! Armed with this information, we arrived at the train station well in advance to board the promised rail. In full accordance with Indian Standard Time, the train showed up a mere one hour late! Pushing our way through the crowds, we managed to climb aboard one of the compartments. What was to follow was quite unnerving.

The Great Underbelly

As we made our way into the compartment, I began to feel the prickle of many eyes upon us. I looked up to see a packed compartment full of people staring unblinkingly and unflinchingly at us in silence; this was the underbelly of our great nation. These are people who have been forced into surrender by generations of poverty; people whose lives have beaten them to a pulp and left out high and dry; the lowliest of the low. As the minutes passed in awkward silence, I tried to decipher the look in their eyes as they continued to stare. I was inclined to thinking that it was perhaps a sense of longing, driven by the belief that we possessed everything they have fought their whole lives for. I was wrong; it was something very different. The steely glint in their eyes was becoming more and more evidently hostile. The impression was unmistakable; we had no business being in ‘their’ train. I wonder if this attitude is reflective of a far deeper issue.

Conservatism in Perspective

It is certainly unfair to generalize behavioral characteristics based on economic categorization. However, the psyche demonstrated in the train is heavily prevalent in this country. Poverty is a terrible burden to live with; nonetheless, the question needs to be asked on whether economic backwardness has become so commonplace in India, that we now use it as a cover up for unrelated issues. There is a deep-rooted culture of conservatism and intolerance in this nation that is often attributed to lack of education, hence linking back to poverty. Whilst education is of course critical to thinking faculties, we must ask ourselves whether it is a prerequisite for open mindedness and liberalism.

For example, the Naxalist-Maoist insurgency was nothing more than a farce terrorist outfit, extorting money from middle-level landowners in the name of providing justice to the downtrodden. The movement gained the support of unemployed youth from many economically backward groups eager to cash in. Hence, the ensuing violence was considered a direct result of lack of economic development in affected areas. This might be true at face value; but that validates neither the intent of the supporting parties, nor the sympathy it garnered from many. On the other hand the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement was a peaceful protest initiated by a somewhat similar demographic. The goal was to end corporate influence on government entities, particularly from the financial sector. To battle economic inequality and endemic corruption, is very different from making unwarranted demands simply based on grounds of being poor. The OWS falls in the category of the former, while the Naxalists fall into the category of the latter.

A Culture of Self Pity?

I believe there is a deep sense of self-pity among the poor and middle class of this country, perhaps more so the latter. I do not say this without empathy; I do my bit of charity. However, self-pity is a contemptible emotion, for it is engendered by the belief that life owes us something; it does not. Perhaps in some circumstances, self-pity is justified in a sense that it allows solace from unbearable hardship. However, we must strive to never allow this outlet to dictate our actions in the manner that the Naxalites did. You could write all this of as ramblings from someone born into privilege; I would have no defense against that critique. Nevertheless, the point might still be worth consideration.

Check out my other pages!

Science and Religion - Wolf In Sheep's Clothing - A discussion on how religion impacts morality
Travel - Diaries of A Gypsy : The Glowing Cave - Experience a hidden location in New Zealand
Gaming - Mass Moral Crisis - A look back over one of the greatest games of all time
Science - Demise of Intelligent Design - An overview of scientific discovery challenging an intentionally designed world

Tags

Dudhsagar Falls, Economically Backward, Maoist, Middle Class, Naxals, Occupy Wall Street, Poverty, Self Pity, Train

Meet the author

author avatar Nikhil Kashyap
If I had to describe myself in three words or phrases, they would be : Explorer, Art and Science Lover, Cynic. That should also give you a good idea about the kind of stuff I'll write about!

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