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Water, Water Neverywhere………..

May 4, 2009

One of the main reasons that number one hubby wanted us to move to India was to see what the “rest of the world” was like. India is very different than the United States for many, many reasons. Because we have moved here, we have learned that we have taken a lot in life for granted.

This neighborhood does not have running water. Water is delivered here. You get a little bit and you better make good use of it because you won’t get any more until the truck comes back.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2009 11:38 pm

    Not sure how we got from water to credit card abuse, but I’ll…

  2. May 5, 2009 11:10 pm

    Jasmeet:
    There’s a difference between a poor woman in India getting a small loan from Grameen bank and an average American misusing their credit.

    The best example of the dangers of credit in America has been with it’s education system.
    Because the government made it so easy for people to borrow money through institutions like fannie mae, colleges kept hiking up their costs. Nowadays, it can cost as much as 50,000 dollars a year to attend a private college.

    However, since access to loans was so easy, many students who did get into college, but could not afford to pay, would simply sign up for these loans and go to school full time. By the time they graduae they’re be saddled with debts of over 100,000 dollars just for trying to get a 4 year degree( and I haven’t even added in the cost of grad school) tack on another 100 grand here!

    What is happening now is that America has created a whole bunch of young people who are going to be spending the next 20 or 30 years trying to clear out this debt. Can you imagine trying to start your life at 22 with that much debt? But the mantra has been that you can’t succeed without a college degree so these loans are called “good debt” and students taking out these loans naively think that high-end jobs will be waiting for them once they graduate, but the world is changing.

    Actually, I don’t think most Americans have come to terms with their reality about debt. The assumption is that the economy will recover and jobs will be created, but a lot of these white collar jobs are being moved to India and they are not coming back. Without these higher end white collar jobs, how will people pay off these debts?

    America is still a land of innovation and the people at the top will still make loads of money, but if you are just average, you are in trouble because your competition is now a 22 year old Indian sitting in Bangalore and willing to do the same thing as you, but for 50% less.

    Most Americans have used debt to buy consumer goods, not to invest in small businesses and this is going to come back to bite them as more and more start losing their jobs.

    • Jasmeet permalink
      May 6, 2009 6:21 pm

      Ke, I agree to most you have said, but how is the system flawed when people misuse credit cards to buy consumer/luxury good when they already have such a huge debt?
      It is true that American colleges hike fee since loans have become easier, the same has happened in India. However, if you see in both the cases it’s the private mediocre school who have done that, both in India and the US, because here the rich dads can pay for their sons and there young men and women have access to easy loan facilities. Public schools and colleges both in the US and India haven’t increased the fee as much as private institutes. And this also includes top private schools in the US.
      I do also agree that many of these jobs won’t go back to America, but it’s not that jobs won’t be created at all. I don’t see the situation improving so fast but also see that the situation was not created over night either. It was created over a span of eight years, i.e., during Bush’s two terms and due to his economic misgivings.
      Americans have been much better at adapting than say the European precisely because they do have a baggage of tradition.That’s one of the strength of the American culture.
      If people choose wisely and banks become a bit more reserved in who they give the money (for example lending them according to their credit and academic history), the situation can see improvement of many folds. You can see how many in this country are deprived of even the basic education because the poor don’t have access to credit facility, thought you are right that the average Indian is more wise in money matters; we have been brought up to spend within our means, in fact this is one of the basic wisdom that is passed on from one generation to the other.
      Also remember that some of biggest entrepreneurs including Bill Gates have been able to educate themselves with these loans. It’s a bit irrational to put the blame squarely on this system. Can you name one system that has not been exploited for it’s loopholes? If proper checks and balances are observed, misuse of the credit cards can be avoided upto a great extent as well. The problem, again is that of regulations as was the case with the banks that filed for bankruptcy.

  3. Jasmeet permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:00 pm

    Ah! It’s not over till the fat lady sings (and in this case me lol)
    1. Which area is this, if I may ask? They seem to be a lucky lot that the Jal board is actually providing them, I’m convinced that for most slum dwellers thats a luxury. As an amateur I photographed a slum locality which on the banks of Yamuna that sourced water from the river, now, the river’s water is not even fit for animal’s consumption. The settlement was later bulldozed in front of my eyes.
    2. Damn! Thats a Mahindra Xylo??? Looks pretty neat from the inside, if only it looked that well from the outside. lol. Their Scorpio looks great from outside but it’s dull from the inside.
    3. @ It is true that a lot of people is the US are debt ridden, but their economy runs like that. It’s the government policy. The way our economy was until a decade back, debt or borrowing money was looked down upon. Me and my sister were raised to look down upon asking for money from anyone even if others are doing it openly. It’s only now that lending and credit facilities have become more affordable and within reach of a majority. Credits coupled with lack of economic prosperity wreaks havoc any where and not only America – look at our Central districts – Vidhabha, not Andhra etc. Think it’s a bit irrational to paint the whole picture with a single brush – credit facilities have done wonders in some areas – have provided renewed livelihood to many and helped women gain more financial independence. Though it’s also true that Credit Cards in particular has been misused a lot in urban areas.

  4. May 5, 2009 10:20 am

    Naomi – indeed – you won’t dump water down the drain so quickly here

    Badass – you would have water – at least most of the time – this is a slum neighborhood – somethings are universal – the havenots have not.

    Settlers – it is a mixed blessing for sure

    Arun – did not mean to cause you homework – but thanks for the info! I do not think a credit crisis is imminent but certainly possible here in India. Lots of info here – thanks!

  5. Arun permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:37 am

    Some predict that water will be a cause of wars in the future. Although, not everyone agrees. I think the bottom line is population pressure on natural resources. Of course, there is the problem of efficient distribution in countries like India, but the US has far less pressure on its natural resources, even with dramatically higher per-capita consumption. China, and recently India as well, have started buying land in Africa to ensure adequate food production for their citizens.

    Btw, I think India is still some distance from spiraling down the credit black hole. The household savings rate in India continue to be high, per this recent article in The Economist.

  6. May 5, 2009 8:56 am

    @Ke….interesting observation. However, not so true anymore in India’s case. Most of the new housing development and cars are sold on credit/loans. So the new emerging middle class in India is also living on credit, which makes the whole situation very fragile. I think there is an upside and a downside to this.
    With the credit, people can own a house and a car, which they probably could not, if there was no credit available. However, it does expose them to an uncertainity, similar to what we are seeing in the USA.

  7. May 5, 2009 7:26 am

    That would be a major adjustment for someone like me, who drinks probably a gallon or two of water a day!

  8. May 5, 2009 7:06 am

    Interesting discussion so far!

    I think the main thing I took from this IS that so many take so much for granted. For example, me this morning making two pots of coffee (wasted water because I messed up the first pot) … and then making two jugs of lemonade (wasted water because I also messed up the first jug). I didn’t even think twice about dumping the messed up pot/jug of water down the drain.

  9. May 5, 2009 5:39 am

    scribina – welcome and thanks for the details!

    Redddy – I went to a presentation and this was part of the discussion – a side bar discussion – the concern is that the poorer people are buying tv’s and that type of thing now that can be repossessed. It was discussed that the real problems will come when they figure they can buy food on credit – and other more perishable items.

  10. Redddy permalink
    May 5, 2009 5:33 am

    credit cards for the poor….are u serious??? Even a majority of the middle class doesn’t have credit cards. I think ur information is grossly incorrect. The poor mostly live out on doles from the government….What will the poor buy from credit???…….. grains, chapattis from the govt’s crumbling public distribution system? These companies are not as stupid as u probably think (Iooking at the US I feel US credit card companies and banks really are).

  11. scribina permalink
    May 5, 2009 4:55 am

    hi.. i live in delhi. from the photo, I think that most of the people are from nearby slums. Slums are technically illegal constructions, so the government cannot officially give them water or electricity connections. Naturally, they will try to get water and power somehow, which means tapping illegally into the main lines.

    In fact Delhi has very high tranmission and distribution losses for the power sector, which is basically due to stealing.

    Several of thes slums in delhi have over the years become colonies. Therefore, there was this initiative a few years ago to regularise or legalize these slums on a one-time basis to allow for amenities to reach them.

    Also, water table in delhi has been going down sharply due to the rising population, which has led to it being dependent on other neighbouring states to supply. This again creates its own political issues.

    a recent article that gives a broad overview of the situation is this
    http://www.livemint.com/2009/04/29004116/Leakage-mismanagement-clog-De.html

    and for a background on Delhi’s water situation, (though the statistics are a bit dated)
    http://www.rainwaterharvesting.org/index_files/about_delhi.htm

  12. May 5, 2009 2:44 am

    Ke
    Unfortunately it appears that those credit card companies are now inviting Indian’s poorest citizens to apply for credit cards – it really could be a disaster.

  13. May 4, 2009 11:07 pm

    This economic crisis is showing me that maybe Americans are not as rich as they think they are.

    Yes, Indians and others in third world countries may not have access to water or electricity all the time, but many are debt free. I sometimes think that it would be better to be debt free and have less, than to have more and spend the rest of your life paying off debts, which I have to come to realize is the situation that too many Americans are currently finding themselves in.

    They look like they have more, but many of the things they have were purchased with credit cards, which they can no longer afford pay back.

    My relatives in Africa are actually richer than most Americans I know. They have less material goods for sure, but they are also debt free. No mortgages as their homes were built one stone at a time, no car payments, no credit cards, ….nothing. They have food and housing and they’ve learnt to live within their means.

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