Whenever people discuss regulation, whether for or against, it’s always treated as basically one type of thing. Opponents might say, “regulation is bad for business,” or, “we need to cut red tape,” while advocates might argue, “regulation makes us safer,” or, less positively, “regulation is a necessary evil.”
Occasionally, someone will distinguish between good and bad regulation, but it’s still talked about as one thing, with one purpose; the debate is whether it achieves that purpose to a better or worse extent.
Visiting India helped crystallise in my mind that there are two very different things, both called “regulation”. They have different aims, and different effects on business. We shouldn’t confuse one for the other. We should also be aware that it’s a deliberate policy of business lobby groups to try to make us do just that.
I really enjoyed my trip around India. This special edition of the Hate List does not represent my overall opinion of the country and its people. For a balanced view, it should be read in conjunction with my Highlights of India blog post.
People loudly belching in the street.
People loudly hacking up phlegm and spitting it out in the street.
People chewing paan and spitting it out in the street.
The standard travel writer’s summary of India is that it’s a mixture of medieval and modern. But it’s not. That’s a lazy, historically illiterate cliche, which is at the same time both too harsh and too generous.
It’s too harsh, because even the most archaic values and standards of Indian society are superior to those of European medieval society. A much more appropriate comparison would be to our “early modern” period: the 1500s-1700s.
It’s also too generous, in assuming that India has any modern element mixed in. Just because it has 21st century technology, doesn’t mean that it has any 21st century values. Its society is not just partly early modern: it’s entirely early modern.
As a committed Indophile, I was excited to see the trailers and posters for the new Channel 4 drama series, Indian Summers. I was also a bit suspicious though: I mean, I’m really interested in that period of history, and I’ve love to see a quality TV series made about it (Jeremy Paxman presenting The Raj, a documentary series covering British-Indian history as comprehensively as The World At War, would be my pitch). But I was surprised that anyone else was.
When I was in India last year, I did a bit of experimenting with stereoscopy.
Stereoscopy is a technique for creating 3D images. By taking one photograph of a subject, then moving position very slightly to the left or right, and taking a second photograph of the same subject, you end up with a stereoscopic pair of pictures. This pair replicates the two slightly horizontally displaced versions of the world seen by each of your eyes. All you need to do then is place the two photographs side by side, and cross your eyes so that one eye is looking at one image, and the other eye is looking at the other one. Your brain then combines and interprets the two images in the way it normally does, to reproduce a 3D perception of the subject.
I used to play about with this technique when I was younger, and visiting some of the forts and ruins of India, I realised they might be particularly good for stereoscopy. I’ve just got around to editing the photos into pairs, so here they are.
The 2014 Indian general election is currently under way. With over 800 million people eligible to vote, it’s a long and complicated process: polls are being held on different dates across the 543 parliamentary constituencies, over the course of five weeks. The first were held a week ago, on 7 April, while the last won’t be until 12 May, with the final result due to be announced on 16 May.
With that ongoing, I thought I’d record my observations from travelling around the country at the end of last year.
In Shimla, a dodgy internet cafe virus wiped my SD card, and I lost all the photos from Nainital, Haridwar, Mussoorie and Dehradun that were on it. The ones I was most upset about losing were the ones from my day in Dehradun and the two couchsurfers I’d met.
When I got back to the UK, I used Recuva to recover the data from the SD card. Some of the photos were immediately recoverable in perfect condition, while others were corrupted to differing degrees: some were completely destroyed, while others had bits and pieces still salvageable.
I’m afraid I may have given the impression, from the tone of the blog, that I didn’t like India very much. That’s not true. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely. Here are some of the highlights of the trip:
Eating fresh, ripe guavas straight off the trees while picking fruit with Ashpak and Chacha, two of the workers on Bobby’s organic farm in the hills south of Nainital.
Being chased by a charging elephant across a bridge on the road to Haridwar, and escaping by motorbike.
So, that’s almost it for my India travel blogging. I got back to Delhi, visited a few more tombs, the Ashokan Rock Edict and the second Ashokan Pillar, did a bit of gift shopping and accidentally ran into a demonstration for the establishment of Gorkhaland state. They don’t want an independent country. They just want part of West Bengal to be detached into a separate state within India. Can you imagine getting this worked up about local administration boundaries in the UK?
Gorkhaland protest in Delhi
At Indira Gandhi Airport, I thought I’d made it, and the insanity was over. Until I got held up by the most absurd piece of airport security nonsense I’ve ever encountered.