“It´s Good to Be a Developing Country!”

I was fortunate enough to escape monsoon season this year. My memories of last year´s mouse in the house –SHREEK- was still vivid (we live in a ground floor flat), along with those of mold growing in our shoes and on walls, of traffic jams halting before lake-size puddles on Delhi´s main thorough fares and the constant stream of sweat soaking my clothes even while not moving an inch. All this made me want to escape India badly. And I did. Now I´m spending three months with my mother in Germany. Working in a chocolate factory as a temporary on the assembly line, but that´s another story.

From the distance, without the smell, noise and madness, one tends to think of India in another dimension. Feelings of annoyance, anger, even hatred at times about chaos and corruption turn into thoughts of tender liking while away. I am sure this phenomenon is common among frequent travellers and expats all over the world. What we think while living IN the country is always different from what we think while living OUTSIDE of it. As a European my views of India are of course quite different from, say, an Indian living in America, but I am sure we both see things a bit too rosy while we are away. But do we still think of India as a “developing country”? This was the question I wanted to answer when I suddenly stumbled upon the term in an old magazine I found at my mom´s house.

While it used to be a term expressing a somewhat lower status with a bit of pity, I realized not only how much -at least- India has changed in the last seven years (my first visit was in 2004), but it also occured to me that the term “developing country” should now rather be used as an expression of envy or even awe. Which European country can boast of 8 % growth? And is ´developing´not usually meant in a positive way? Isn´t it good when something ´develops´? Did we earlier think that Western, industrialized nations were ´finished´ as in fully developed? Does not death come after maturity, winter after summer and fall? Well, looking at my own country Germany where already almost 30% of the population of 81.8 million citizens are over 65 years old, unemployment fluctuates between 8 and 10% and the standard of living can no longer be improved, it looks rather like fall season is upon us and that “developing” isn´t so bad after all.
I think India and other simliar countries should proudly call themselves developing nations, because it expresses progression, a dynamic of “we are going somehwere”. In Europe, as we can read in the economic section of daily newspapers, it looks as though things are going backwards. The Euro is unstable to say the least, social benifits are slashed, spending is cut, credits no longer easily had, and everyone is realizing, if ever so slowly, that the 20th century will never come back again. Oh boy! And I can assure it feels worse to suddenly have less when you had a lot, than to look foward to more when you have little, as cruel as this may sound.

Ok, let´s be honest, it is still ten times more comfortable to live in Europe, at least in my view, than in India, mostly because of our great infrastructure and law and order system. Things are far from working well in India where most people are still not experiencing any of India´s recent “developments”. And the well-to-do, the nouveau riche, should be ashamed of their utter neglet of immediate poverty around them (mistreatments of servants and lower ranking employees: don´t get me started, that´s another column), but then movement is there, and of course it all takes time. But India´s Youth can consider itself lucky to be growing up in this day and age, because they can grow up AND grow better right along with their own country, and that is not only a great opportunity, but what I´d call a positive development.

Bettina Snyder

49 years old
German-American PIO
ESL teacher
Married to an Indian citizen
Two adult sons
Lives in East Delhi since 2005 with interruptions in Berlin or Philadelphia
Hobbies: taking photos, writing blogs and poetry, reading and movies
http://bfriendlyblog.blogspot.com about this and that in India
http://mayurviharextension.blogspot.com about a neighborhood in East Delhi
http://coffeeisnotjusthot.blogspot.com about cafes
http://doorsdarling.com about doors (photos)