India is a country known most for its Taj Mahal, unique spices, and its religion. Although many travelers are turned off from India due to its pollution and impoverished citizens, India still has a lot to offer to anyone looking to experience different food, culture, and lifestyle.
The government of India is currently a federation that utilizes a parliamentary system. The government of India has a strong central government with weaker state governments; since the 1990’s, the central government has been gaining more power. Like our government, the Indian government is comprised of a legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch.
“I’d say the general impression I received was dissatisfaction with the current BJP/Modi government, but an attitude that government has and can continue to be used as a force for equity and justice,” said Sam Nelson (‘21).
Nelson talked and worked with students who had parents that worked in international media, business, and even parliament.
In India, the slaughtering of cattle is generally looked down upon, but the federal government allows states to make their own laws regarding cattle. 20/29 states have some form of regulation on cattle. One reason for this is that cattle is associated with the Hindu god, Krishna. Another reason is that the slaughtering of animals goes against the beliefs of another god, Ahimsa, which is the belief of non-violence. This belief is comparable to Romans 12:17- 21 in the Bible. Since there is not a lot of animal slaughter in India compared to America, cuisine differs greatly.
“I think the American pallet has a bit of a distaste for what we think of as ‘vegetarian’ food, with leafy greens usually coming to mind. This wasn’t the case there; I got to try wonderful dishes based on just paneer (a tofu type food, but dairy based), jackfruit, or potatoes, and magnificent sauces. Another favorite was a sweet pastry called gulab jamun, which can best be compared to the most amazing donut-hole you’ve had, but better,” said Nelson.
Other students who have travelled to India agreed. “I am not a picky eater so being able to try food from a different country that was homemade was amazing. It was definitely a different diet and I became used to not eating meat as frequently, especially not even eating beef the entire time I was there,” said Rose Cyburt (‘20).
Many citizens of India are plagued by poverty. “Across from the school I worked with, there were empty skyscrapers, sitting frozen in incomplete construction, and what was basically shacks with families living a few hundred feet from their base. I think we’ve done a better job of ignoring the realities of our country,” said Nelson.
“I had the chance to take both metro rail, and a long distance train to the city of Amritsar. The Delhi metro is the newest, cleanest metro I’ve been on, having both the US and Europe to compare it to. The heavy rail to Amritsar was wonderful, as I got to see the Indian countryside,” said Nelson. Travel in India was relatively similar to that of Germany and Scotland.
Cyburt used her weekends to travel to places in India where she wasn’t teaching. “Since we didn’t teach on the weekends, the other interns and I planned a two-day trip to Amritsar which was about a 6 hour train ride from where we were in Delhi. There are many historical and religious places in Amritsar, but the most exciting was being able to go to Wagah Border. Wagah Border is where India and Pakistan have a gate to separate the countries and everyday they hold a ceremony to lower their flags at the same time.”
“When my friends and I arrived, we were taken to the VIP section and thrown into a wild dance party in the middle of the stadium that surrounded the gate. There were women hugging and kissing us on the cheeks, giving us scarves and singing. There was so much patriotism and excitement in one place,” said Cyburt.
“India is probably the most intense place in the whole world in every aspect of what makes it unique. While issues of pollution and poverty might make up some of the perception of India for an American student, the hospitality of India’s people and the enchantment of their vibrant and complex cultures should make it a must-go place for any passionate student,” said Nelson.