'Indians not satisfied with life, but peaceful than Chinese'

Indo Asian News Service

Beijing, Nov 30 (IANS) Even though living with inadequate social welfare for the elderly and soaring house prices, and not necessarily satisfied with their lives, Indians have a "more peaceful and satisfied state of mind" than the anxious Chinese, a daily said Friday.

Chen Chenchen, an opinion editor with the Global Times, was recently on a trip to Delhi. He stayed at the home of a middle class family.

The writer's opinion piece clearly shows his disappointment, as the "surroundings appeared increasingly run-down", and there were "fewer cars and more rickshaws" on the Delhi road.

"A murmur of doubt rippled among my companions on the back seat -- 'Are we going the wrong way?' In Beijing, a middle class family, even residing far from the centre of town, is usually living in a well-furnished block of flats," Chen wrote.

The Indian family who he visited included journalists, artists, engineers and architects. It was a "community of intellectuals", and the women all had decent jobs.

However, the Chinese said they could not believe that the material standards of Indian middle-class families "fell so far below our expectations".

With "authentic Indian food", introduction to the gods on their altar and a "tense cricket match" between India and Pakistan on TV, the conversation between the Indian family and the Chinese visitors centred on social problems such as inadequate social welfare for the elderly and soaring house prices in Delhi.

But to the Chinese, "it was astonishing that no one was complaining amid the conversations".

"Certainly, Indians are not necessarily satisfied with their life, but they do have a more peaceful and satisfied state of mind, which is in sharp contrast with the anxious, testy Chinese," he wrote.

Chen said he read V.S. Naipaul's "India: A Million Mutinies Now", where the author speaks of an India struggling between tradition and development, but which was undergoing slow, hidden changes in every social aspect - views about marriage, family, religion and caste.

"These traditional views are still functioning in India, although the caste system is illegal, which partly explains why people are able to acquire a mentality of peace while exposed to social shake-ups incurred by modernization," he said.

"Compared with their Chinese counterparts, Indians better understand being content with their lot, and tend to have less appeals about their interests and rights," Chen added.

He concludes that this mentality "helps placate the public and facilitate social stability".

However, Chen warns that the Indian "sense of reconciliation and relaxation" may clash with or even impede development.

"Unlike Chinese surrounded by a sense of urgency and ambition, Indians seem less motivated to seize the moment, catch up with successful examples despite wide cleavages, crying out for equality and fairness, and fighting for a better tomorrow."