By N.K.A. Ballal, Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC
I travelled about 2,500 miles by road across the US. No humps and unbelievable, only one pothole, and that too in a car park. I was curious to know as to how these roads are maintained so well in spite of such a heavy traffic. Fortunately, I had an occasion to go and see for myself when a road was being relaid. They were using the same machine which is being used in Mysuru, the same road rollers, asphalt, jelly stones and sand too. Why is that the asphalt on our roads disappear after 6 months and potholes appear? 40 percent bribe? Your guess is as good as mine.
It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 potholes in Bengaluru. They fill up 100 and 150 more appear. Humps on the highways! No way. Does it mean that there are no accidents? Of course, not. But they do not think like the Police force at Mysuru, who think that putting up unscientific humps is the only solution for prevention of accidents. Even a small Layout like our K.C. Layout has about 6 to 8 humps on the stretch! Bribery exists even in the US but when it comes to public health, there is no compromise. Nobody mixes urea with milk or stones in rice or lentils as done here. Adulteration at the cost of public health for small monetary gains is criminal.
A recent UN report was shocking. Approximately 41 million people are living below poverty line in a rich country like the US! Do not be surprised. USA is a capitalist country. So the rich become richer and the poor poorer by the day. One can dream big in that country and become successful too but for many, who just want to laze around and expect doles from government all the time, life can be quite harsh. If one has to analyse the one reason for the above problem, it is lack of “education.” And nothing else.
You will be surprised to know that approximately 26 percent of school-going students drop out even before they complete their 12th standard ! This is in spite of the fact that complete education, including books, transportation and meals are free for those who cannot afford it till 12th standard. Laptops are also provided from 7th standard onwards for each student in the class.
Private schools are expensive like in India and the cost is about 1,500 dollars onward per month but the government schools, unlike in India, are really good with lots of emphasis given for extra curricular activities like drama, sports and debates for giving an all-round education to students. To ensure that bright students do not suffer, they are bunched together and put up in a class. This programme is called “gifted.” It goes without saying, most of the students in these programmes are from India and Far Eastern countries.
The real drama starts after completion of 12th standard for students. College education is expensive. If one wants admission in top ivy colleges like Stanford etc., it may cost anything above 50,000 dollars per year and even at Utah University, which is ranked at 70th in the US, it may cost anything above 15,000 dollars per year for any degree course. Americans generally do not pay for their children’s education. The children are left to fend for themselves by working part time and take loans from banks for their education. The result: An astonishing 52 percent of the students drop out before the completion of their degree courses. And some take as much as 8 years to complete their degree. Parents of Indians and Far Eastern countries normally sponsor their children’s education as done in India.
Professional courses are still more expensive and a student finishing medical or engineering college may pass out with bank loan of approximately two hundred thousand or more. It will take years for him to clear his outstanding loans. That is the reason “Graduation Day” is celebrated in a big way with parties and photo sessions. Any graduate, Arts or Science, gets a job instantly.
Why is that Americans don’t sponsor their children’s education? Two reasons. Firstly, they like to enjoy and live their own lives. They feel responsible for the upbringing of a child till they attain the age of 18. Secondly, they have to save for their own old age. In all developed countries, old age care is very expensive. State doles are not sufficient.
US is a country of huge contradictions. No immigrants, the whole State would collapse. You just have to go to any mall, or shop. “We are hiring,” is the first sign which will greet you. There is a shortage of manpower all over the country. Fruits and vegetables are not picked up and left rotting because there are no people to pluck them. Whites generally do not want to do any menial hourly jobs and want the white collared jobs only. Ninety percent of the agricultural workers are immigrants, both legal and illegal too.
Talking of Indian immigrants, what is the fate of H-1B visa in the coming months is a mystery. On a lighter note, our own Lord Balaji of Chilkur in Telangana must be having some influence in the Immigration Department. This “visa” temple gets about 75,000 to one lakh devotees every week praying for a visa stamp. The only offering is not money but a promised 108 parikrama of the temple. It may be a coincidence but Telangana and Andhra Pradesh do get the maximum visa approvals, year by year !
Most of these hourly jobs are done by the hispanics and immigrants from other countries. The pay for these jobs is anything between 8 and 15 dollars per hour. I am not sure what is the rules regarding child labour but they even hire children above 14. Tipping, a minimum of 15 to 20 percent is expected for services in restaurants or cabs. You may be surprised how low these people get paid. The official pay for waiters is just 2.30 dollars an hour! So these category of people depend on tips for their livelihood. They may be rude to you too if you pay less.
[To be continued]