The Day Creek Howl

Growing Up In A Developing Country

Having grown up in America, it’s easy to take everything that we have for granted.

Image credited to wikimedia

Having grown up in America, it’s easy to take everything that we have for granted.

Isabelle P., Writer

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Having grown up in America, it’s easy to take everything that we have for granted. Information at our fingertips. A fair(ish) government. The freedom to take any job as long as we work hard. However, in many countries, this is definitely not the case. My father, Sunil Pinto, grew up in India, a developing country.

In my dad’s early years, his father was rarely home. Because of work expectations, his dad was gone for months at a time, working as an oil company office clerk.

“When I was born, [my dad] got a job in the middle-eastern Dubai. So, he used to be gone for three months, and he would be back for fifteen or twenty days,” my dad said.

Because of the extended time that my grandfather was away, family time for my father was always special during those growing up years.

“We were always looking forward to when he came back. I remember the exact smell, which would only be there when he came back, so I can still remember it,” my father said.

Here in the US, we have computers, cell phones, and tablets. Unstructured play is uncommon. In India, this doesn’t happen.

“We lived in an apartment complex and you had this series of buildings with a common playground, and so in the evening, after everybody had done their homework, we would all rush down and play games,” he said.

Yet it wasn’t all fun and games. Here, any job is ours for the taking, if the effort is given and the ability is there. Growing up in India, there were usually only two esteemed jobs available for consideration.

“I think always the [main] focus is on studies, like you either become an engineer or a doctor. Those were the two most sought-after professions. Art wasn’t really considered to be a profession. That was just something people did for fun,” Sunil said. “You’ve heard of the phrase, ‘tiger mom’? Actually, it was more about peer pressure. We were working – everybody was trying to go for the best college, and so there was a lot of friendly competition. In a way it turned out good because it helped you push forward.”

That drive to move forward is common throughout the country. In fact, the GDP (gross domestic product) is nearly 8%, whereas China is about 6%, and the US is below 4%. India also has a historic culture, so there’s often a pride factor involved.

“There’s a lot of history to it. India was one of the oldest cultures, so there’s a lot of background to it, and I think people are generally very hard-working. I think that’s the main thing. By some measures, they are very intelligent,” Pinto said.  “I mean, the first thing is after China, India has the most population for the square area, so you generate so many people, automatically. You’re going to have a lot of people who are brilliant and have a motivation to move forward,” he said.

Working hard is part of the recipe for success in India. Corruption, however, is a major problem. My dad recalls stories of being cheated out of money and credit.

“I had started off a business with my two friends from college. We did a few projects and then went to a big office building. We gave them a roof garden design, you know, drawings and all of that stuff. The guy took the drawings, and said [to] come later. Then he didn’t call us ever [again]. We sent one of our friends in, and a few months later we found that the design had been fully implemented, and they didn’t give us any credit or any money,” he said.

To find success in India, pulling strings is a necessity. Law enforcement is underpaid, so taking bribes is one of the only ways to support a family.

“The amount of corruption, even if you’re really good – you’ve got to be really lucky and you need to have contacts in higher places in order to push forward,” Sunil said. “That’s what works more than your merit and your abilities- what you really need. Even if it’s cricket or any other [job] field,” he said. “Until those things go away, India will still struggle to become an advanced nation.”

This is one of the reasons my father moved to America, for a chance to find success based on merit and merit alone.

“[In America] it’s just how hard you want to work. That’s the only limiting factor. In India, there’s that, but in addition, there is also a huge shortage of resources,” he said.

Despite the obstacles, my dad believes that there is hope for India.

“A lot of people are coming forward.  People are very focused. They want to do very high-level thinking. [Back] then, it was frustrating. Now, [there] is opportunity,” he said.  

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About the Writer
Isabelle P., Writer

One of Isabelle P.’s favorite things about Journalism is being able to be herself online. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and making iMovie...

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Growing Up In A Developing Country