Living in a 3rd World Country

haji-ali-juice-cellAbout 7 1/2 years ago I moved to India and started calling it “home”. Friends and family always ask me “how is it there?” People that want to move over here for business, usually connect with me via LinkedIn and then ask “how is it there?” Currently, it’s breezy, sunny and 90° F (that’s 32° Celsuis). Okay, I’m sure that is not the response people are looking for.

I’ve been meaning to put together a post about my experiences in India but never really knew what to cover or where to start. People are always looking for pro’s and con’s but really each individual situation is different. Over the past 2 weeks it started to become very clear what to write about.

First let’s get the basics out of the way, India is a 3rd world country. Of course in this era of being politically correct the right term is emerging market. Emerging markets by definition are in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. Because of that, business interests and profits always seem to trump everything else whether it’s human rights, the environment, doing the right thing, etc…

The one thing that has always been at the back of mind while living here is the lackadaisical attitude toward safety and really my personal safety. And no I’m not talking about some gangster pumping 15 lead bullets into me or getting some crazy-ass disease. In Bombay, I can’t tell you how many times I see people cross the street and don’t even look for potential oncoming traffic. Or people running after a bus that is completely packed just to be able to hang from it like a garbage collector (I’m sure there is a politically correct term for that).

I always cringe when I drive at night because most people will NEVER turn their headlights on for safety. In their minds they are “saving” the light bulb which will always trump their own safety and mine. So what happened 2 weeks ago? 2 words – cell towers. We realized we are in the direct firing line of 3 cell towers that are about 50 meters from us. The verdict is still out whether electromagnetic fields (EMF) from cell phone towers are harmful but it definitely can’t be a good thing.

More importantly, the building that houses the towers could be at risk but have decided to forgo their personal safety for the monetary gains they receive from the cell tower companies like – Indus Towers, Reliance Infratel, Viom, etc… In addition, there are rules and regulations about tower density on a building but that means nothing in a 3rd world country called India. As a friend mentioned, the cell phone industry is the shining star of the corporate world and safety norms and regulations can only hamper its exponential growth. Profits before safety of it’s residents.

But, it’s not just the cell phone industry that puts profits ahead of safety. I can count on one hand the number of factory recalls that the automotive industry has issued in India. And let me tell you it’s not because they are building world class products that are free of defects. Even the well respected $100 billion conglomerate Tata Sons did not recall the Nano even though it would spontaneously turn the car into a barbecue grill. Instead it was termed a “replacement program” which has different legal and financial implications then a full blown factory recall. Once again profits before safety.

The list goes on and on but that is one of the downsides of living in a 3rd world country. Still interested?

The above article was syndicated on and

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