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First File
The Idea of Progress
I’m going to present the notion “the Idea of Progress” witch deals with the development as
technical, scientific or social which contribute to the evolution of humanity. I will illustrate this
notion though 3 documents. The first one, named “the village population” and written by R.K.
Naroyan in his book, “the painter of Signs” present the population-growing process in Indian
village. Secondly, the economic aspects of India are studied in two radio reports. Finally, we have
an excerpt of Arand Giriharadas’s story “Farewell to an Indian I Hardly knew”, published in “The
New York Times”, which is dealing with the author’s impressions about India. This American
writer, whose parents are Indians, tell us his observations/findings about a “Changing India”. As
we notice, these documents analyses the situation in the same country: India.
So, in what extend India is a country of contrasts?
Firstly, I will focus on the hidden face of India, poverty, then, I would like to show a
different aspect of India, which is modern in several fields.
I partie: The hidden face of India
I. 1. Growing population
In thirty years, India has grown from 700 million to more than 1.2 billion people. In
absolute terms, India has the highest population growth in the world: an additional 17 to 18
million inhabitants each year. The first text, entitled: “the village population”, is about this
phenomenon. I notice that the text presents two opposing mentalities, embodied by two
characters. Daisy represents a modern mentality while the teacher embodies a traditional mentality.
According to the second character, the increase of their village population is positive, but Daisy
think that it can causes many problems in several aspects. Indeed, if they have a mass population,
the land can’t longer feed its inhabitants, and does not provide enough work. Furthermore, new
houses are not built. Because of that, they need to move in other areas, but they can’t practice their
stonemason profession if they are not in village. Subsequently, they have to move in big cities to
start a new life in slums, because they lack the means to buy a house.
I. 2. Life in slums (recording)
“He’s success in astounding example of what’s possible in India’s building economy”
certify the second radio report. A man, who lives in Delhi, makes a living by selling rubbish. It’s
surprising that this man is considered as a like a lucky man, because he earns 2000 rupees: that’s
about 40 $. To compare, minimum wage established by the Indian government is “less than 1
$ a day”. I deduce that the Indian poverty rate is very high. According to statistics, 300 million
people can be considered as poor. Imagine that, for a day of work in miserable conditions, parents
must feed a large family! Poverty is a huge political challenge for Indian democracy. That's why
these families live in slums characterized by these points:
- Overcrowding: poor families have no access to condom.
- Informal and poor-quality housing, mostly located on the outskirts of city centers.
- Insufficient access to drinking water.
- Insecurity reigns: women suffer because of the dowry system: they can be victims of
rape or be involved in prostitution. Secondly, children are menaced by infanticide and
child marriages…
This report once again raises the question of measuring poverty in this underdeveloped
country where inequalities are very marked.
However, The Indian society is a place of stark oppositions, still torn between tradition and
modernity. India is at the same time one of the countries with the highest growth rate in the world
- 7% annual average - and the one where the number of poor is the largest. How can we explain
this paradox?
II. India, a country of modernity
II. 1. Technical advance
India is at the leading edge of technology. According to the second text, “Changing India”, written
by Anand Giridharadas, India “was changing dramatically, has changed in many ways. This
pejorative opinion is about the technical advance of this country. In the space of 6 years, India has
become a major global player in the field of technology and services. In fact, India is becoming
a world superpower and notably the computing and communications revolution has put India at
the heart of the world’s network of remote service provision.
For example, Bollywood, that Indian film industry, is one of the four most important film
industries in the world. To produce those movies, Bollywood uses Software, used in animation
and graphics, to get best effects. In fact, India excels in the field of high tech: this country has
very early developed technological institutes of high level, in addition to engineering schools and
institutes delivering master's degrees in computer-applied technique. The high tech and the way
of life that it reflects make young Indians dream. India has an impressive pool of graduates, but
yet this is insufficient in view of the dizzying development of new technologies: hence the creation
of new schools, mentioned in audio. “the inspiration” of those studies? “the boss of the global
software company operating.” answer the first part of the radio report. This genius started his
career when he was just 14, and now, he is the boss of software in 11 countries, including United
States. Thanks to this modernity, India is one of the most dynamic economies of the world.
II. 2. Social advance
The author, Anand Giridharadas, wants to quash received wisdom about “India, the
frustrating, difficult country”. In fact, the first progress that he noticed in his text was the change
in mentalities. He observed the evolution of social mentality. “The children of the lower castes
were hoisting themselves up on diploma and training program at the time” Indeed, it’s a great
evolution, because access to education is very hard for lower castes, in example, the Untouchables.
They represent 17% of the population, and are excluded from the system because they exercise
professions qualified as "impure". Now, with a diploma, they have the opportunity to be hired
more easily.
The situation of women in India is questionable in many aspects. I know that women often suffer
from discrimination, no doubt related to the traditions and religion of the country. This is a major
pillar of Hindu traditions that are still prevalent in Indian society, which partly explains the place
women occupy today. But the document shows us the evolution of this mentality: now, a woman
can prove that she is not an object: because she can work. This is a great opportunity for poor
women (generally Untouchables), to extricate themselves and their families from poverty.
Moreover, I notice that earning money contribute to gain some respect in families and
communities. Women can’t be considered like a burden. To resume, we can see a way of
empowering women and the best defense for those facing the greatest deprivation.
Conclusion: To put it in a nutshell, I can say that India is a country of contrasts. Traditional India
is characterized by the rapid growth of a very poor population living in slums, the lack of
education, the gender inequality makes India a marginal country. However, this emerging country
is in strong technological evolution, comparable to the United States. Even if inequalities still
persist, we see that they are less and less present today with access to education.
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