What has your country done for YOU?


This afternoon, on my way to a meeting to Versova, I decided to meet up with one of my new expat friends in Juhu for some coffee. Juhu is such a beautiful area, with its beach and real fancy hotels, stunning boutiques displaying colors and fabrics that were magical and unique, and tall palm trees that beckoned me to the beach and the setting sun. This part of Mumbai is tres chic and I often find myself mesmerized by all the shops and cafes that envelope this part of the city, making it one of the more expensive areas to live in.

We had our coffees and were chatting about life in Mumbai – how I used to crib about it all the time, and how I am now trying to find the positive things about Mumbai. She then asked me WHY I moved from the USA to India, perplexed by the absurdity and bizarreness of our decision. After all, these were  two countries that could not be more different from each other. I explained to her that my husband and I, after living in the USA for 10 years and after seeing that India is in a very fertile phase of economic development and advancement, decided we wanted to contribute to our motherland, that we wanted make a difference to our country and her people in whatever little way we could. We wanted to do something for our country – we are patriots. Her next question stunned me, because this question has never been asked of me before: “But, what has your country done for you?”

I swear to god, I usually do not get stumped, but this time I was. I actually had to think for a moment and after a few moments passed, I still did not have an answer. She also said, “Your country has done nothing for you. Why have you come back? Look at other countries, such as those in the Middle East, Europe and North America, they take care of their people.” In many ways, she is right. What has my country done for me? To this moment, I am still speechless where this question is concerned. This is not to suggest, by any stretch of imagination, that I should only contribute to my country if it has done something for me. In the same vein, I pay all my taxes, I follow the law, I have a healthy civic sense, but I do not feel that I am living the quality of life that I did in the USA or in the UAE, where I felt that the government really took care of its people; be it having good roads, having accessible medical facilities for the well off and not so well off, by having adequate and consistent law enforcement, and so on.

I am still reflecting on her question, disturbed by the fact that I do not have an answer for it. It is even more disconcerting that I probably may not have an answer to this question. I do not know. But, if you can share your thoughts on this subject and shed some light on what your country has done for you, I would greatly appreciate it.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Spock Kris
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 16:06:20

    well very fact you can write this blog and still live peacefully is good enough isn’t it? Its always greener on the other side ? Every Indian gets subsidized education even IIT’s all professional courses are directly or indirectly subsidized by the Gov , your vote counts to a great extent unlike some other countries where even voting is non existent. In spite of limited leaky (corrupted ) resources we still have the largest fairly well maintained railway network enjoyed by all and sundry inspite of coursing. Probably we have the most tolerant mult- cultural religious society in the world
    Common its high time Indians learn to appreciate what they have either accidentally / design , instead of being carried away by the western press and publicity of various foreign governmental machineries had mentioned the outer gloss of some of the countries your lady friends mentioned!!
    You have come to India because you thought you can grab a piece of the economy cake and would be better of than in USA , don’t give such noble reason to your decision it sound too hollow !!!! We all are in search of better living and not confined to sate region or country add lets not be ashamed of it !! Its a plain truth !!

    Reply

    • Dr. Suri
      Dec 15, 2011 @ 11:08:18

      Hello Spock Kris – nice to hear from you again! First off, your comment on me blogging and “still living peacefully” in India is a huge assumption; an assumption that is inaccurate and unsupported. Yes, I am living in India and am grateful for a roof over my head (which i paid for dearly), and for living in a city where the electricity never gets cut and where I have a supply of water 24 hours a day. I am aware that in other cities, around India and the world as well, this may be a luxury. However, “peace” is a personal concept and if you must know, I am not as yet living peacefully in Mumbai. I have to think 10 times before approaching a cab or a rickshaw to go from one place or another because the reality is most of them will turn you down, I have to be wary about about who wants their palms greased if I need to get any work done, I have to be extra careful that when I step out of a car or when I am walking down the street that I do not land in a open manhole, and I also have to be especially concerned as a woman for my physical safety. All this is not peaceful to me.

      Secondly, I appreciate your input on how India is still more progressive compared to other countries in the world, and I agree with you to some extent. However, I do not appreciate, nor do I understand, your remarks on how Indians are carried away by the “Western press” and “publicity of various governmental machineries.” This blog is about my experience as someone who is dealing with the challenges of living in Mumbai after returning from 10 years of living in San Francisco, and having lived in several foreign countries, I know for myself what the quality of life is when compared to India. Coming to India for a better life is only one aspect of my decision to move to India. The other part is to contribute, consciously and ethically, in whatever way I can, mainly in the field of psychology. From the various interactions I have had with psychiatrists, non-governmental organizations, school principals, counselors, and corporate organizations, as a psychologist, I can tell you that India has a long way to go where psychology and psychotherapy are concerned.

      Thanks for your comments and happy reading.

      Reply

  2. SFdave
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 19:02:20

    Here is an interesting article on Happiest/Saddest Countries in the world:

    http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/the-world-s-happiest–and-saddest–countries.html

    Reply

    • Dr. Suri
      Dec 15, 2011 @ 10:45:13

      Thanks, SFDave for this useful and pertinent information. While India does not rank amongst the top 5 of the “saddest countries” in the world, it is still considered, according to the article, to have tumbled in its economy since in 2009, and we have our crazy politicians and extreme levels of corruption to thank!!

      Reply

  3. Spock Kris
    Dec 15, 2011 @ 23:56:38

    Thanks dave ! Dr Suri my apologies!! I appreciate your thoughts wish you all the best.
    I think we have to blame ourselves not the government!! Government, I believe is reflection of the people.

    Reply

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