Indian January

26 02 2007

Indian bus

The company I work for is outsourcing more and more IT to Pune in India.  As a result the project I’m working on was largely implemented out there and I spent January out there working.  Mostly in Pune, but I got to go to Mumbai for a weekend.

Working in India was bizaare.  Staying in a 5 star hotel and being ferried in an air-conditioned bus to work in comfortable offices through streets teeming with the evidence of poverty.  Families living by the side of the street, their cooking fire and washing open to all.

India is an incredible place, very different to China.  The poverty is much more open, but so is political debate.  Well written English language newspapers responded sensibly to the British “Big Brother” racism row and there were well attended electoral rallies by the road. 

One Saturday was spent with the Mumbai offices of ActionAid.  This excellent charity works with local activists to improve things for the poorest in India.  The morning was spent with people from partner organisations who gave up time to explain what they did, and the afternoon was one of the most challenging I’ve had.  We (me and my friend Gary who happened to be over too and had organised the visit) were taken firstly to Mumbai’s slums and then to a project in a detention centre for beggars.  Seeing the work that the ActionAid people were doing so close up was humbling, and the depth of need was shocking.

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