June 24, 2001 - Personal Web Page: Complex India by an RPCV

Peace Corps Online: Directory: India: Peace Corps India: Peace Corps in India: June 24, 2001 - Personal Web Page: Complex India by an RPCV

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, February 16, 2003 - 11:34 pm: Edit Post

Complex India by an RPCV

Complex India by an RPCV


Letter to the Editor appeared in "Chicago Tribune" on February 4, 2000

CHICAGO -- This is regarding "Letter from Agra--Paying through the nose" by Uli Schmetzer (News, Jan. 21). India is a land of tragedy and glory; it is a place of chivalry and monstrosity. One may see this during daily life. It is also a country with a 5,000-year civilization behind it, from which the inquisitive Westerner may learn much about what is important in life.

I served in north India in the U.S. Peace Corps from 1969 to 1972 in agriculture and education projects. Indians have exported their brainpower and resourcefulness for decades, and they have achieved much in science and technology, medicine, engineering, literature and other disciplines. Their strong commitment to practicing family values is an example for those who talk about these things. Indian democracy is a remarkable political achievement.

The numerous ironies and frustrations vividly expressed by Mr. Schmetzer are encountered by Indians and foreigners alike. Many things in India are complex because of massive bureaucracy, protocol and procedure. To be successful in India requires patience, a sense of humor and insight about oneself--and about the place of one's own country and traditions in the world.

Mr. Schmetzer's self-absorbed and undignified "Letter from Agra" serves to perpetuate stereotypes. It also contains unfortunate cynicism and has demeaning and unnecessary references to beggars. By focusing mainly on the grotesque or absurd, the letter does a disservice to a great land by a great newspaper.

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