Arriving in Vijayawada
We took more than a six-hour train ride south early this morning from Visakhapatnam to our next speaking spot - a community named Vijayawada. We speak here tomorrow and then head further north to Nagpur in central India before moving on to Nepal via Delhi for our final stop before heading home.
Yesterday we spoke three times in a very rural poor region. It took two hours car drive to get there from Visakhapatnam. We left at 8:00 am in the morning and got back to our guest house at 9:00 pm. So it was a long day.
The last of the three spots was at a private school of about 1,400 kids in what was described to us as one of the poorest places in the country. Come to find out the 'Call center' corporate entities that have sprung up around India like to draw on some of these kids since they are likely to work real cheap - like about $100 a month. So learning English is a big deal for these kids and the school embraced our visit with open arms.
The kids were bright eyed and the light of life was shining at us as we sat down in panel form to take questions from the teachers. Initial questions were 'Do you like India' and 'What food do you like'? But these were followed by questions about Gov. Bobby Jindall (R-LA) who is of Indian heritage. I answered that he is bad news but then went on to give glowing remarks about Seattle, Washington's new city council member Kshama Sawant who got elected as a Socialist after leading the local fight to raise the minimum wage for working people.
The final question at the school was 'What is the mission of the Global Network'? Between Dave, Will, Rao and I we did a good job of sharing our views with the kids and school staff.
On the ride back in the dark, through the tangling traffic and ever honking horns, I looked through the car window into the night sky but could not see any stars - even when we were far from the city lights. The air pollution is so bad here that the smog prevents the heavens from being visible.
Earlier in the day at our first talk in Vizianagaram at a specially organized event called 'Ecological Balance and Global Peace' the concluding speaker (always a highly acclaimed person in the community) commented on how when he was a kid people did not have to purchase bottled water. Soon he said only the rich will be able to afford to purchase fresh air masks due to the growing pollution that comes with India's massive growth index.
Everywhere you turn in India are signs that the mega-global-corporations have stuck a pin into the India map and are calculating how many cars, TV's, cell phones, refrigerators, washing machines, fashionable clothes and the like can be sold to the 1.3 billion people in this country. The corporations are salivating at the thought of the profits to be made.
You can't blame the people - 25% of whom are living in dire poverty - for wanting a better life. But add in China and the many other nations in the developing world and you get the picture. Our Mother Earth is in trouble - she just can't sustain this ecological pressure.
Now in all fairness it must be remembered that in the US we are only 5% of the global population yet we consume 25% of the resources on our failing planet. So things have to change there too and quickly if we hope to have any chance for survival on this spaceship Earth.
In many of my talks to students here I've been mentioning the Native American belief that we must look at how each decision we make impacts the next seven generations. It's obvious that much of the world is not following this advice as we head full bore into the face of climate change.