Why Americans Have a Distorted View of India

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I’ve noticed that many people from America or more generally the west have a very distorted view of India.

In this article, I’ll tell you why that is the case, and then offer some facts about India to help you form a more accurate view of reality.

How Americans Study America

When Americans study their own country, they study it from top to bottom.

They start studying their country from its state structure and constitution, i.e. they focus on things like:

  1. Having a written constitution
  2. Free speech and human rights
  3. Democracy and right to vote
  4. Having an independent judiciary
  5. History and founding of their country (The American Civil War and Declaration of Independence, etc.)

and only after they study that they move on to contemporary issues in their society like racism, treatment of minorities, wokeism, immigration, etc.

This gives them a good understanding of their country where they see it’s structure and features and the flaws that exist on the ground level.

How Americans Study India

When Americans study India, they study it in exactly the opposite way – they study India from the bottom to the top.

They start at the bottom level issues like:

  1. Sanitation
  2. Treatment of low caste people
  3. Rights and safety of women (where western media portrays India as extremely dangerous for women, which we will soon see is not true)
  4. etc.

and then ascribe these problems as features of our culture i.e. this is where you get terms like “Brahmanical patriarchy”, etc.

They study themselves top to bottom and India bottom to top, and to top it off, they consider the flaws in their society to be the features of ours.

They get a very distorted picture of India that doesn’t match reality.

It doesn’t help that western media loves to lie and exaggerate which further fuels this view.

America Bottom to Top: What do you think?

Imagine if someone studies America from bottom to top i.e. they start from:

  1. Ultra high divorce rate
  2. Gun related violence
  3. Growing Homelessness
  4. Transgender children and wokeism
  5. Obesity and public health
  6. Treatment of immigrants

and then ascribes these to be features of American society, governance, and culture.

They would get a very distorted view of America too.

Some Facts about India to Set Things Straight

Here are some facts about India to give you a more realistic view of the country:

  1. India is a democratic country with multiple political parties and every citizen above the age of 18 has the right to vote.
  2. India’s constitution guarantees each citizen various human rights, including the freedom of speech and the freedom to practice any religion.
  3. India has an independent judiciary.
  4. In the year 1961, the literacy rate i.e the percentage of people who can read and write with understanding, was 28.3%. According to the latest 2018 data, it is about 75%.
  5. From 2014 to 2020, India built over 110 million toilets, significantly solving the problem of sanitation.
  6. In 2018, the last village in India was connected to the national grid. All villages today in India have electricity.
  7. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, India was still dealing with polio epidemics. Today, India is polio free.
  8. India is one of the countries with the lowest per capita rape: 1.8 per 100,000 citizens. For comparison, the number is 27.31 for the United States, and 27.29 for UK. Doesn’t really match up with what western media likes to portray, does it? I tried looking for the stats for Vatican City because they are the religious people in the west thus presumably the best behaved, but I could not find the data. (Feel free to leave your estimate in the comments.)
  9. Corruption is far lower than it used to be 10 years ago. There are no statistics on this but talk to any Indian and he will confirm this for you.
  10. The Indian army has nuclear weapons, inter-continental ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, and 1.4 million active military personnel. The Global Firepower Index estimates it to be the 4th most powerful military in the world.
  11. India is the 3rd largest economy in the world by GDP (PPP) ($11 trillion in 2022). In comparison, the USA has GDP (PPP) is $25 trillion in 2022. The numbers are from IMF. India is growing really fast, both as a whole and on a per capita basis.

Of course, we have our problems too. I do not wish to paint an extremely rosy picture of India, because that would also not be an honest assessment of reality.

In this article, I merely wished to discuss why westerners have a upside down picture of India in their heads and wished to offer some facts to make things clearer.

I hope you find it useful.

– Harsh Strongman

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