It’s been really inspiring hearing all the doom and gloom scenarios since returning home. The economy is buggered, there are more jobs on the moon, more money in Sudan and less misery in a North Korean jail. Awesome. Welcome back. I left Scotland in 2008, accidentally rather than deliberately avoiding the brunt of the recession. I have returned to find it’s been a rather large brunt.
Meanwhile, in Asia, things are ticking along nicely. You may have heard China are doing quite well. They are. However, I’ve heard India being mentioned in the same exasperated breath by some who’ve been articulating on the Asian boom. From what I could see (and I’m no expert, I just have eyes), this is unwarranted. Yes, Indian economic growth is impressive. But if the place wasn’t improving I’m not sure how they’d get by at all. We’re talking about a place where thousands die every year shitting on train tracks. There’s no toilets see, so seeing the rails as a useful alternative, pissed up locals stumble about on some sleepers with their robes down before the Chennai Express splats them into a human dosa. We’re talking about a place where cows block traffic, where kids sell postcards for your old museum tickets so they can be made into more postcards, where men pan for the gold of melted jewelry in funeral pyres. We’re talking about a rather strange and wonderful country. It’s amazing. But it’s not going to be taking over the rest of the world anytime soon. The problem is, I think, they’re too steeped in their own culture. They’re too religious. It’s what gives the place it’s vibrancy and colour, but they’re all so deep into it all, making money and developing infrastructure is pretty low on the pecking order for many Indians, in comparison to say, the upcoming holy holiday or a distant relatives wedding traditions.
In comparison, many in China are at a loss to what their culture is. In the east, especially in Shanghai, money is the religion. They don’t have anything else. Culture is for time wasters. The government has streamlined the whole nation (minus the pesky west and their old chum Tibet) into a well-oiled, manufacturing machine. So you’ve got two countries, both massive in population terms, both massive in terms of their economic growth, but polar opposites in nearly every regard. One needs cash, the other needs culture.
Asian insight over. I’ll go get a job now.