Canada ― a fair system
The telephone operator-cum-receptionist at the company where I worked in India in the 1980s and ‘90s recently mentioned to me that the company is doing well. She disclosed that her Diwali bonus paid in October 2010 was 70,000 rupees. That is almost $1,650 Canadian dollars ― a decent amount even by Canadian standards. In 1994, when I left the company she would have been beaming ear to ear if she got 7,000 rupees as a Diwali bonus.
Salaries in India have skyrocketed and consequently government pensions too. A junior level government officer with 30 years’ service could get a pension of 20,000 rupees per month. An entry level call center employee can reach a salary of 20,000 rupees per month in just one year, and a 22-year-old trainee financial analyst could draw a decent 35,000 rupees per month. The middle class in India has now burgeoned to 300 million and not surprising the eyes of prospective exporters in the U.K., Europe and Asia are trained on them as prospective buyers for their goods and services.
At the rate the Indian economy is growing it is quite possible that by 2030 many North Americans might bring in the term ``reverse migration.” India and China are hurtling forward on the economic front and they will be to India what America was to Europe in the late nineteen hundreds.
But for a Canadian of Indian descent that came here at the end of the ‘90s, the ``lag” he or she experienced hurts. They came to Canada a few years after ``dotcom” and missed the period when India’s outsourcing revenue catapulted to 50 billion rupees. And now, when they go back to India for a vacation they are still treated like distant cousins of average means. I am referring mainly to the Indian immigrants who came from metropolitan cities in India with a university degree. Some of them operate taxis in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.
India has made impressive strides on the economic front: Four of the richest billionaires in the world among the top 30 are Indians. They do not set stellar examples like giving away wealth to philanthropic works but Azim Premji ― the third-richest Indian billionaire in the above list is reported to have set aside 11 billion rupees for charitable donations. This is his response to a request made by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to give back a sizable portion of their respective wealth to the underprivileged people of the world.
On the other side of the coin we have Mukesh Ambani, the fourth-richest billionaire in the world who has built an impregnable castle of mediocre architectural design right in the middle of a residential district of opulence in Mumbai perhaps to insulate his family from evil eyes. That is his prerogative and one cannot fault him for doing so. However, India is still a country of 400 million people who subsist on $1.25 per day and somehow that construction does not seem appropriate. It is an eye sore.
Wealthy Indians have to get out of their self-centered skins and give back something to the poor and underprivileged. But that is not easy for an Indian dynasty that often resorted to questionable means to procure that wealth.
There is no need to compare your situation in Canada to people in India who are doing well and flashing cash. All your needs are virtually taken care of in Canada. Irrespective of your socio-economic status you can shop in the same store as a millionaire and one is not judged by the clothes you wear or the amount of gold you display on your being. You need never fear a sudden hospitalization and your children can afford university education with soft loans. The air is fresh and the lines and queues that pockmark any basic little amenity are non-existent here.
You come to Canada to live a clean, healthy life with all the basic necessities. You can make a lot of money through enterprise, but even if you don’t you are unlikely to whimper and whine.
Canada is the closest thing to a fair system ― if not socialistic. And if ever you become filthy rich, your conscience might not allow you to indulge in vulgar opulence. And chances are, you might even give back to the system what Canada so easily gave to you.
The writer is the publisher and editor of ``Daywatch" a bi-weekly newspaper published in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.