Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010

The Economist has an insightful article about life in Shahabpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh -- the caste dynamics, how well (or poorly) its residents are adjusting to the changing times, and so on. A positive article overall, the frequent references to the villagers' open-air toilet habits notwithstanding (what's with all the "turd"s?). A couple of choice cuts -- one an open admission of corruption by the person working in the village ration shop (What was he thinking? Anyway, he can always claim that his words were mistranslated if the authorities try to prosecute him for this):
Mr Lal, who is popularly considered to have the best job in Shahabpur, also admits to skimming off a share of the loot. He puts his pilferage at a modest 2kg of rice for every 52kg-sack he handles. “I’m only paid 900 rupees a month, so of course I have to steal!” he explains.
and the other a poignant and pathetic story of justice denied:
Two months ago, while Sarju was visiting his parents in Madhya Pradesh, his 13-year-old son Ravendra was beaten senseless by two patel neighbours. The boy had skinned and dumped a buffalo carcass, from which a dog took a meaty bone into their field. Ravendra, who carries scars from this beating, was discovered by the local skin merchant, who informed the local BSP partyman, who reported the matter to the police. They took no action. Yet this flicker of official interest in their plight represents significant progress for Sarju and his family.