Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Basics of Modern Society

This morning I read an article in The Hindu newspaper entitled "Half of India's homes have cellphones, but not toilets" and cut it out to comment about it. Upon returning home from school, I had to wait until the two hour daily power cut was lifted before I could begin blogging about the topic. Once the power went back on, I was able to use the water filter, make some chai on my gas stove, and heat up some dinner in my microwave oven. The power went off briefly again, then the internet was down for a few minutes. Again, the power went off, forcing me to write in the dark (using my wonderful MacBook Pro) and without AC to counteract the high humidity of Chennai.

I looked back at the Census 2011 statistics highlighted in the article, comparing Indian residents in rural and urban areas. While the typical Indian household is cross-generational, 37% live in one-room households. I have three bedrooms and live alone. Only 17% of rural residents (and 62% urban) have tap water from a filtered source. Nearly half of all Indian households lack a toilet; I have three. Unlike most rural residents, I can cook my food over gas - and not with firewood. Less than 1% of rural households have a computer with internet (8.3% for urban); I have a laptop, smartphone, and iPad. Contrast this with cell phone statistics; nearly 50% of rural and 64% of urban households possess a cell phone. Walking through slum areas, I can attest to this high number - in fact, some young men in these areas try to master texting with the phone in one hand and answer a call with the other. Less than five percent (and surprisingly under 10% in urban) own a car or other four-wheel vehicle. Urbanites (35%) utilize a scooter/motorcycle, while 46% of rural households use a bicycle.

The power has just come on again, in time for me to hit publish - once my wireless is up and running. I have no right to complain, for I have access to more than almost all those living in India and in many developing countries.


yellowrobin said...

A very sobering post... it's so easy, sometimes, to forget we're in a bubble.

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