According to the World Health Organization, eleven of the twelve most polluted cities in the world are in India. I won’t get into the particulars of what where and the scientific calculations of parts per million, just know that India leads the world in the most polluted cities in the world. India’s water is not much better. Every day, sixty-three percent of untreated urban sewage in India flows directly into rivers, or, to put in understandable terms, sixty-two billion liters per day. Almost all of the rivers in India are polluted, even the sacred Ganges River, where swimming in the sacred holy waters is not recommended. India’s population is now at 1.2 billion, nearly double what it was just 40 years ago.
According to The Wall Street Journal of August 16, 2018, in 2016, 7 million young Indians applied for 8,300 entry-level public sector openings. Some of the applicants for municipal sweeper jobs were college graduates and even some with M.B.A.s. And you thought jobs in the U.S. were scarce. The Journal article described one Indian citizen named Vinay Singhal, who runs a company creating clickbait on Facebook aimed at Americans. (If you’re wondering, clickbait is: “on the Internet content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.”) Other companies in India that employ hundreds of workers are companies that call unsuspecting Americans and tell them that the local police and the IRS are on their way to their door, but if they buy Apple iTunes gift cards and send them the codes, they will bribe the officials and stop the investigation. Apparently, these types of companies are just as legitimate, to the Indian officials, as your Microsoft and AT&T call center.
Half of India’s 1.2 billion population is under the age of 25. That is a lot of young people, most of whom do not care to stay in India, and who could blame them. The caste system of India has a lot to do with success; if you are born a Brahmin, your chances are good, if not of the Brahmin class, your odds, no matter what education you attain, are not good. From The Wall Street Journal: “The basic truth lurking behind these stories is that Indian society is not a meritocracy. It is a closed hierarchy controlled by a few who have led millions of people down a doomed path of false promises.” In her book “Dreamers,” Snigdha Poonam writes: “In this gated wonderland, no matter how hard you chase your dream, it’s always someone else who decides if it will come true.” That quote probably has some resonance with young, deeply in debt underemployed college graduates in the U.S. as well, who are not seeing doors open up for them just because they went to college, even when the college officials probably told them the degree was a ticket to a good-paying job.
The global culture is alive and well in India. Cable TV, the internet, and mobile phones make the citizens painfully aware of what life is like outside of India. From my childhood, I can still remember adults telling me that people were starving in India when I didn’t clean my plate of food. America has tried to help countries all over the world, and if you consider what the Americans give in terms of charity, few nations come close.
One of the misunderstood missions of America has been historically to have more countries like America, where everyone was free and there were many opportunities for everyone. America tried to make more countries like itself, so that citizens around the world would enjoy the freedoms such that America had, and, to some extent, to keep everyone who wants to be free from coming to America. The freedom enjoyed by American citizens is a part that a lot of critics of American foreign policy do not understand. While I realize that our foreign policy is insensitive to other cultures, it is the insensitivity of other cultures to their indigenous populations that motivates people to leave those cultures, such as those noted in the citations above. When someone with an MBA cannot get a job sweeping streets, you have an overqualified and underemployed population. No wonder they have no motivation to stay. There are too many countries to name that have millions of people who want to leave; whether or not being like the U.S. is a solution remains to be seen, but clearly, something is wrong with those countries.
India is the world’s largest democracy, at least in name, but they have not shaken off the caste system that makes the Jim Crow laws of America look like the etiquette rules of a finishing school. Yes, America has exploited other countries, with the full cooperation of a chosen few in those countries that obtained vast wealth. (China, among others, comes to mind.) Nonetheless, our purpose has been (allegedly) to bring democracy and freedom to all the countries of the world. It turns out that some countries aren’t interested in the type of freedom that America appreciates, or if you wish to entertain the alternate theory, that the wealthy elites of said countries have no interest in letting the proletariat get even the smallest taste of freedom or wealth. Fair enough for the elites, not really fair for the proletarians.
India’s population of 1.2 billion is a lot; in fact, it is several times the 350 million or so of the U.S. It appears that the government of India has not been dealing very well with its population or its pollution, so the next best thing to do if you are a citizen is to leave, and I am sure that the government will do everything but buy you the plane ticket out. But India, and I am not necessarily singling them out, and a lot of countries need to address the problems that they have created for themselves. The “outsourcing” of American labor that was so much cheaper in the past might soon become very expensive when the country (India or whatever country) has to actually prevent toxins from getting into the air, water, and landfills, and take care of its citizens.
What goes around comes around, and with industrial wealth comes industrial pollution, industrial diseases, and citizens crippled by industrial accidents and poisons. To say that having 1.2 billion citizens doesn’t contribute to the problem of pollution is foolhardy and ignorant. Outsourcing, that corporate money-saving revenue-generating panacea to all American corporate ills is watching the pigeons come home to roost. One of the major outsourcing countries will soon be facing an environmental crisis that it cannot ignore, and will have to pay for, no matter what. The Brahmins, being rich, won’t be able to push the costs on to the Untouchables, though the Untouchables will probably do the grunt work.
The global village (thanks to technology that wasn’t around when all the outsourcing began) is now watching remote parts of the village get poisoned, but there are fewer and fewer places to hide the ugly side-effects of industrialization. Soon enough, there won’t be anywhere to run, and the expenses will follow the outsourcers wherever they go. In the same vein, if you cannot supply clean air and water, you might consider adjusting your population, and not passing them around to other countries like an unwanted fruitcake; that goes much further than just India in terms of population. There a plenty of countries trying to shed their enormous, expensive, and unwanted populations; my reasoning for using India is the data is readily available, they are a powerful force in the U.S. economy, and, let’s face it, lots of them want to come to the U.S. By the way, recent reports have them coming in across the Mexican border.
It appears there are a lot of governments that are behaving irresponsibly and both dumping toxins and attempting to lose unwanted populations. Government accountability, even in the U.S., is sometimes hard to come by. Take, for example, the case of 13 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and find some government official who is willing to accept responsibility for them being here. I have only picked India out because of the massive scale at which the government has failed to protect the resources, water and air. While India doesn’t seem to be addressing overpopulation, that would seem to be a problem they might need to address sometime soon. Seven million applicants for 8,300 jobs would indicate a problem. The cries that these issues be addressed are out there. My prediction is that more people (citizens) and “significant citizens” who hold social or political power, will have to die, before one of the most polluted states on earth takes action. The later the pollution is addressed, the greater the payments for the solution. Outsourcers should look elsewhere, the cheap business environment is over.
India’s air pollution:
India’s water pollution: