And Where’s India’s Future Leadership?

Glendora Press  October 12, 1969

And Where’s India’s Future Leadership?

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

         By DWAYNE HUNN

For division’s sake we could make four qualitative divisions of the Indian school system. In ascending order, the lowest is the village school. This is not based on experience, but merely on reasoned comparisons at the low quality mu­nicipal school, and their teacher attraction over that at of village school.

The second rung is filled by the municipal schools and Catholic orphanages. Then follows the semi-private and Catholic schools. The pinnacle is possessed by completely private schools and especially well-endowed Catholic schools.

Months ago the government was talking of replacing these pinnacle schools with neighborhood schools. The lan­guage teaching medium, the student quality difference, and the exodus of teachers were some of the problems this would cause.

But it is to these schools that the upper class elite sends their sons and daughters. Chauffeured to and from school, brought warm lunches from home by one of their many serv­ants, placated by most of the teachers due to the power their parents possess — school to these students usually contrib­utes to their spoiled, spineless, undirected qualities.

When they are chauffeured through the poverty surround­ing then they never think of it as their future responsibility. At this pinnacle only a rare Indian teacher will teach them to be observant, thoughtful and critical. Rote memory, para­phrasing of the textbook and unimaginative homework are the standard methods of education. Athletics provide little in the way of character formation through discipline, sweat and grime. Lack of fields and unaggressive coaching are a major part of the reason.

Their vacations, weekends, etc., are spent in air-conditioned homes, restaurants, parties and country clubs. Part-time work they do not think of, probably even if there was a labor market need, which of course there is not.

High school graduation, after their keen pursuit of grades for grades sake, will find all seeking studies abroad. Some already with the intent of staying abroad, most unwilling to say but ready and willing to sway in that philosophy. Most feel little patriotism in their country, feel they owe it little and feel it offers them little compared to what is offered else­where.

This is the class that is being trained to take over the chairs of its society’s leadership. They can get by with shallow education — as their success in foreign universities proves. But can their societies of tomorrow get by without feeling the pulse of the masses’ needs below them?

Without them feeling responsibility toward those needs? Can they feel that pulse without now becoming more in­volved, in some small way, by volunteering their time and effort in teaching, building and experiencing the life of the 95 per cent below them?

Are our affluent, middle class students different enough, when the worthy passions of our time seem to be misplaced from constructive civil rights work, headstart programs, etc., to constant good-time parties, uncivil demonstrations, etc?

Those being educated at the pinnacle will inherit the few spots of authority that exist in the political-economic infras­tructure of their developing economies. Those in the lower di­visions of schools are inferiorly educated, partly due to the environment they live in. They are groomed to fill the dreary, routine jobs. From these jobs, which comprise the bulk of their societies system, an outsider experiences just what their environmental life and rote memory learning situation results in.

Almost all of the civil servant employees, firm managers, indigenous engineers, teachers, etc., have been groomed on being told an answer, or on finding it in a book. When situations, which you unfortunately may be the instigator of, present themselves and call for a self-imitated course of action – you are in trouble. You may be left waiting for hours, days or weeks over what by our standards, would be considered an inconsequential act.

During this time one of the above mentioned being dealt with will search policy manuals for the patented answer. Or seek higher authority so as to dodge personal responsibility.

It is considered culture when things do not move fast in many Latin American and Asian countries. But today it is part of the weak system of low quality education and thought which seems to be institutionalizing this type of action in those places. Due to the surplus of problems and dearth of resources to deal effectively with this low quality education system, it becomes more institutionalized and less susceptible to future change.

The upper class student can thwart the low quality educational system because they have the means to remain near the scientific-technical revolution. They have access to radio, books, travel (though exchange restrictions are forcing many more Indians to remain provincial in their outlooks), etc., with which to stay abreast of the world. In fact due to the low economic position of the teacher the students are often more abreast of the modern world than are they. The teaching profession does not attract the better qualified and upper class people. This scale will give an idea why

Rs. 7.5 — one dollar.

Starting Salary

Teacher- (municipal) Rs. 64-month

Teacher- (private) 180-month

Stenographer- 250-month

Stewardess- 400-month

Businessman- 1000-up

Thus if you are especially qualified, you must be very dedicated to pursue this profession.

I could go on. But perhaps enough known problems of In­dia along with a few more complexities, hopefully revealed here, has served a purpose. As most media viewers know, In­dia for the past few years has been in a position of strain. Due to this her political structure is also being strained to reduce the other social strain. The Congress party is no long­er monolithic. She is bitingly chastised by the middle class, business dominated Swatantra party, by the wings of the Communist party, by the conservative and often chauvinistic Jan Sang party.

The strains and criticisms have focalized many inadequacies and corruptions in India’s means of development. Hopefully this atmosphere will mean a more efficient path to change. But, at this possibly crucial stage, a major change in our foreign policy could be a catastrophe.

I can look back to a personal level for enforcement here. Orphans in India go unclaimed for life. Catholic institutions care for them. Yet the price of administration determines the amount of care available. Were it not for the free aid of pow­dered milk and wheat supplied by the U.S., rice supplied by Spain and canned goods (produced by the U.S.) supplied by Holland; the 150 orphans I worked with would be a smaller and physically weaker number.

This goes on through the system, right down to the grains we supply the masses. Granted, much of this is pil­fered by men with connections, amazing amounts are eaten by rats (some figures claim 20-25 per cent of the gross sup­ply); but without that amount that trickles down to the right­ful, needy sources what would happen?

An Indian stare commissioner once told me. “If America was really our friend she would cut all foreign aid, leave us to flounder, suffer and face up to our problems alone in our own way.”

Their own way would possibly mean a shaking out of their lethargic, apathetic frame at mind. But it would also possibly mean revolution, bloodshed, mass starvation, dis­ease, etc. The experience, if our Western, Christian mentality could sit through the bloody coliseum, would be ugly and in­humane. A consequently ugly, inhumane government could be the result.

The walk through the chawls was ugly. But without our understanding of its life and its causes, our aid and patience in changing these — it could he much uglier. One of my favorite quotes concludes and applies just as well to India and our relation to it. It concludes and applies just as well to our affluent society’s responsibility to the development of quality at home. Albert Schweitzer once said:

And for those who have more,

Those who need not struggle for existence,

It is for them to set the example.

 

 

India: Some Economic and Human Points

Glendora Press – Oct. 12, 1969

India: Some Economic and Human Points

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty).

By DWAYNE HUNN

Patience has not been a particularly American virtue. Perhaps, due to this, some of our successes have come.

Yet many of the underdeveloped nations have developed a culture premised on an abundance of patience. To many Westerners this patience seems better defined as indifference or apathy. But they have also had certain bases for this fea­ture which we have not.

Many of these nations have had civilizations running into the thousands of years. Perhaps human nature drifts from conservatism, to patience, to indifference through such a span. Many are located in energy sapping climates. Due to such factors they have been left behind in science and tech­nology; and population, in the meantime, has aggravated the human economic situation.

Foreign aid and patience returns this thesis to India. A few facts and figures gives some credence to the belief that perhaps the amount of foreign aid and patience should he tied together.

U.S. Economic Assistance Expenditures, 1945-65

Per Capita            Per Capita Rank

India                                          $11.16                 19

Korea                                      $136.88                   5

Taiwan                                    $182.07                   5

Philippines                              $ 39.20                  10

For Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, the U.S. has al­most phased out its economic assistance program. These na­tions are approaching the point where their economic infrastructure should allow them to self-propel their economies. Yet the amount of per capita assistance given them as compared to the world’s largest struggling democracy is strikingly ob­vious.

The reason for the difference is not solely our policy. In 1945 we were engrossed with containing communism and gen­erous amounts of foreign aid was one of our weapons. India was engrossed with the neutralist ideal directed by the char­ismatic shadow of a Ghandi. Therefore the discrepancies in relative aid receipts to various nations, and possibly a signif­icant reason for difference in economic development 20 years later.

Money means capital investment, this means more facto­ries, which means more jobs, which means that kid in the chawls may land a job rather than idle in his family’s one room or on the street corner. In India, one facet of America’s aid is to pump money creating investment into the hands of the frustrated middle class father and  by doing so aid the chawl kids’ needs also.

The program works something like this. America has supplied India with tremendous amounts of grain in the last few years (11 billion tons last year). Due to India’s preca­rious foreign exchange condition she has allowed her to re­pay in rupees. America can not use the rupees anywhere but in India. So she lends 80 per cent of it back to private entre­preneurs in India. The other 20 per cent is used for the admin­istrative costs of our governmental personnel in India.

Nevertheless the amount of rupees owed the U.S. is stag­gering. Thus Indian government officials often criticize this “Public Law 480” program as “foreign domination of our economy.”

A similar view would probably be espoused by intellectuals here at home who see exploitive motives in most of our giving. In India, the criticism comes from those who feel that either complete centralized planning and/or complete Indian government control over all economic aid allotments is the answer.

The Agency for International Development (AID) position is that private entrepreneurs and their initiative and profit motives are a needed part of the answer, not merely centralized planning. They also feel that over this double loan — which America never really expects to collect – they should have some authority. They also point out that the Indian government has control over the distribution of this money by their process of licensing, which the capital seeker must pass through to gain AID grants.

Indian criticism of this PL 480 process, for some of her above reasons, may be part of the answer as to why the rupee repayment is presently being phased out. The U.S. government, by 1971, may demand that all repayment be in dollars.

Bombay is India’s most booming city. Industry and construction is going on constantly and everywhere. Calcutta used to be in this position. But she has reached her physical limit. Also detracting from investment is the Bengali labor mentality of “gheraos” (strikes — sometimes violent), and general disrespect towards — or self-pride if you interpret it on the Bengal side — toward the Berah Sabh (Big Boss). There two areas are the only really commercial, finan­cial, and industrial centers in India. Therefore they are also the two major tax sources, supplying over 60 per cent of the tax revenue. (An 80 per cent peasant population averaging only 75 rupees a year is not a tax source). India’s progressive tax system, depending on whose stats you use, is either the highest or one of the highest in the world. So businessmen in either of these cities constantly gripe about the chunk the gov­ernment takes from them. Chunks which presumably could go for reinvestment. Even so, the tax system is not leveling the station of the very rich businessmen. Evasion and inefficient collection keeps these men living in the splendor of contem­porary maharajas.

There is a movement afoot in India which some feel is the answer to India’s problems — alas the world’s!  It is called Moral Rearmament and its title is self explanatory. If they were serious, these MRAs would concentrate their efforts on that rich class of businessmen from which many of their parents come. From among these select few there are not enough truly socially responsible individuals. Mr. Tata, the owner of Indian Airlines, Tata Oil and Steel and others, seems to he one of the few, as his wealth is seen spread in institutions to better the lot of those below; especially the Parsee community of which he is one. This lack of social re­sponsibility, which in many ways seems applicable to our af­fluent, middle class society, will lead into my last comments on a facet of human resource development.

 

India’s People Chained to ‘Structure’

Glendora Press – Oct. 5, 1969

India’s People Chained to  ‘Structure’

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

‘Seek to imitate… our Master, who when he sees a poor man does not wait for him to beg for alms.”

—Khin Boron

Stay with me for some of my next few words as they walk down a street for you. After walking down this street I will attempt to become, in some way, analytical about our world’s relation to it. Both worlds are very important, although and because, their way of thought and motivation are different.

Try to imagine that you and I are on the corner of that street. Trust me to guide you down it and view it to you as I feel you would. Trust me, because I lived on that street for ten months and viewed it many times as you probably would in this paper.

The corner is a busy intersection jerkily flowing with small cars, an occasional rich man’s Chevrolet, two-tired and dilapidated red buses, bicycles, and carts of all sizes — all laboriously pulled by thinly strewed, dark skinned legs. The restaurant on the corner, with the walls opened to the street, makes edible curry. Edible, once you have gone through the initial stages of dysentery due to the initial eatings of it. The overhead fans do little to keep flies off your food.

The etiquette of the waiters, who carry six glasses of water at once by inserting their fingers into the innards of the glasses, leaves a little to be desired. Carrying the water glasses as such is not too bad, but when the waiter cleans leftovers from the dishes, blows his nose in his fingers and then brings the glasses — then, more than etiquette enters in.

Passing the restaurant we edge around the queue (line of people) which winds down the sidewalk. They have queued­ up to receive their vegetable oil allotment. The third little shack dispenses it. The short squat man lying in the shack on a raised portion of wood is the proprietor. He lies there with his white clothes and contented smile almost daily. He does not seem to do much else. Others do it for him. We have passed the last of the little shops. They were selling articles from soap and materials, to flashlights and lamps. All domestically made articles – this is the poorer area of the city.

Perhaps along with our visual conceptions a little socio-economic background would aid our journey. The housing area we are now entering is one of the areas commonly termed the chawls. The chawls are India’s slum-tenements. Here, a few hundred thousand of Bombay’s one to three million chawl dwellers reside.

Continuing down the street our senses take in the new and unexpected. But the sense mechanism is so flooded – shocked may be a better word – that initially it is impossible to express. But we do notice the obvious. The air of the street is filled with dirt, vehicle exhaust and the stench of dirty humans, garbage and excrement. But that is merely the air.

Breathing this, we proceed down the street. We proceed slowly, being jostled and stepping between all the little peo­ple on the sidewalk makes our movement such. We become Impatient with the overflow crowd of the sidewall and move to the street. There with part of the overflow crowd, we compete with vehicles for movement.

On the curb of the sidewalk we have just left art little, weary Indian women commonly called “vegetable wallahs.” They sit on a little hemp sack with their income for the day or week beside them. That income may consist of 40-50 small potatoes stacked, ready for sale, in piles of four.

Moving in the street through the foul air and crowd our ears soon become attuned to the honks and screeches of passing vehicles, the call of vegetable wallahs, the clatter-chatter at the crowd, the walls of children and the blare of Hindi music.

Looking through the crowd we can see into the room of a dirty grey, four-storied chawl. Through the barred window we can see that pots, rags, pictures of holy men and very often a picture of President Kennedy adorn the meager wail space. The room we have looked into has that one barred window, one door and no fan. It is 15’x12’ and it is home for usually 5-12 joint family members.

Outside the barred window lies a 20’ separation before the next chawl begins. That space is littered with dirt, rocks glass, red Indian spittle, excrement and garbage. Around numerous large piles of garbage, dining cows and/or pigeons will be found at any time of the day. At night rats in large numbers will be found. Rats in Bombay are estimated at be­tween 5-12 per person.

Returning to the curb our view focuses on a 10 month old child of one of the vegetable wallahs, The mother keeps the child wih her since the rest of her family is out trying to earn a few paises (like a penny). The child adjusts to the environment, she must. The naked child crawls oft the hemp mat and as it does so you notice the large sores around the pelvic area. Medicare? No, not even Johnson’s Baby Powder is available.

One observant walk down such a street is unforgettable. Many walks — and especially living there — brings home the vicious circle of the meager life, education, and experience these people are forced through. The crowded and dirty liv­ing conditions put health, privacy and enjoyment at a bare minimum. Their food staples, rice and dahl, are severely ra­tioned and spreading it to a joint family keeps that family frail and weak.

During the school year the children get out of this envi­ronment six times a week — to be educated. They go to half-day classes that average between 35-50. Teachers are not well paid or well trained, and the environment background speaks for itself. With this classroom setting, rote memory, with next to no creative formation is the method.

At birth those children were as cute as, and their eyes sparkled, as much as any American counterpart. But soon enough their eyes assumed a hollow, weak look. A middle class American baby gets, and soon enough learns to expect, much different treatment.

Incidentally, what we just walked through is how the up­per lower class lives, the class which borders on the middle class. The one-and-a-half to three million who live in clusters of disgusting hutments and under the skies an the streets are lower.

That was a bit of the grass roots description of a RPCV. The Peace Corps is meant to try to effect development on this grass roots level. Sometimes it can, sometimes it must work otherwise. Such was the case with our group. But out of this all of us learned something about the problems which blocked success at this level. At the same time one of ourmost important educations was one of appreciation for the “so much” we have at home.

As an Urban Community Development group some of us came to India believing we should act as proteges of Saul Al­insky. That we should organize the lower classes, have them petition and/or fight for their rightful, human deserts to the government bureaucracy above them.

Yes, the beautifully pyramidal, governmental welfare structure exists — on paper. But to expect redress of life’s grievances from that structure is foolish, and the lower class­es have never bothered to feel otherwise.

Being an American in the city also offers opportunities to get to know the upper and middle classes. The middle class has its own environmental hang-ups. They are aware of how the rich live, desire same of their possessions and experiences. Their teenage children are not like the chawl or hut­ment children — many of which have never been to the downtown, financial, entertainment center of the city.

The middle class teenager has seen it, experienced some of it and adds to the family pressure to enjoy more of it. But that costs money. Money comes from position. Appointment does not depend axiomatically on position, but class position plays a very important role in attaining these appointments. For those below the upper class it is usually a hindering role. The economic structure of developing nations adds to the hindrance.

The middle class father would like to have money for a business venture, would like to have connections to aid this and would like to use both to put his children through the good private schools and then through a foreign university. With these status symbols his children’s aspirations will be more attainable than they presently are to him.

Father has learned a little through life and has been stuck beneath the bureaucracy long enough to realize the impediments thwarting improvement of his position. He can talk continuously of these problems. He has not yet tired of talking, but has tired of believing — if he ever believed such that he or anyone can meaningfully change the structure. He is frustrated, but seems to have accepted his position —beat by the structure.

India’s political structure offers few immediate, effective changes. Such a structure based on a 75-80 percent illiterate and peasant populace, supported by ensuing traditional beliefs and continued by a moderate (for Asia — except when imputed on its base) two point four percent population in­crease; offers few clear spots in the smog.

This is but a sketch of the problems of the world’s larg­est democracy. How does the rest of the free world, and par­ticularly America, aid India with these problems? Propo­nents of aid would generally agree that it should be directed to developing human and economic resources. Opponents would point out that for 20 years we have aided nations like this yet they have not “taken off.” Their answer is — “there­fore taper off.”

They Want to Live, but it’s All So Futile (

Glendora Press, Oct. 1, 1969

They Want to Live, but it’s All So Futile

  (Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next several issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

 By DWAYNE HUNN

 American kids can roller or surf skate down driveways into quiet streets. There (India), they skate in congested streets, There, they skate to stopped taxis, grab onto their doors, and ask for “bukshis.”

Few of them stand and lean on their boards as American kids so often do on their boards or skates. They cannot, for they are often without feet. Chopped off at the knees or hips, they use roller boards to make their begging trips.

I drowsed in a few Peace Corps training sessions, and in two of them I was jolted awake by the remarks of the speak­er. One speaker’s subject of masturbation jolted my Catholic conscience upright. The other jolt from slumber came via a statement that, “Fifty per cent of India’s beggars are pur­posefully maimed.”

“How can you make a statement like that and back it up?” I querried. I can’t remember his exact answer, but I think it had something to do with a state government survey. I found such a statement hard to swallow then.

One of the nights that I was escaping from my Worli living experience found me exchanging gory experiences with a fellow volunteer at the Bombay Peace Corps Hostel. He and his wife warmed up by telling of how they observed a baby deficate diarrhea, scoop it up in her fingers, and eat it. Her mother didn’t stop this until she noticed the intense stares of the couple.  {The above story happened to me and I wrote it as such but got published as happening to a mother.}

*       *       *

They then related a story they had heard from another friend. The friend had been on a crowded train. A woman on the train was holding a howling baby who had bandaged eyes. After more than an hour of crying, and after the moth­er had refused three offers by a man interested in looking at the baby’s eyes, the man took the baby and unwrapped the bandages to find a cockroach gnawing on each eye. I too find this hard to swallow. But after having been there, the lectur­er’s statement is less hard to swallow.

There the game of life is played close to the bone, so closely that it sometimes cuts into the marrow. They are not eating each other, but they may be modifying some of their own lines to ensure money to feed other family members. Those children who have been fated to beg to help support the rest of the family feel the pain of inflicted ugliness, less a gouged eye, a chopped arm, a hand-made-paw. The Hindu re­ligious-philosophical concept of dharma, meaning one’s fate could be a trick of India’s earlier elites to ensure their com­fortable position and the poor’s defeat.

Life magazine spoke of a saintly Sister Theresa of India. I also knew a Sister Theresa, a different, but similar one. She was also Spanish, and her happiness and resolve also seemed unconquerable. She and three other Spanish nuns di­rected the Cheshire Home for 50 paraplegics.

The 50 would never be able to live on their own, some couldn’t urinate on their own, some would soon die, come couldn’t utter an understandable word, a few were spastic. One could do nothing more than squirm across the floor, clutch a space with a paralayzed hand, and utter grunts and groans while showing one of his two faces—a smile or a lost frown.

Here the nuns lived, prayed, smiled and sang. Sister Theresa, it was said, was from one of Spain’s richest families. When she couldn’t raise funds for the home’s needs, she wrote to her other family. Sister, and some others like her, would spend their lives with the sick and dying in a parched and barren land.

After two years, I’d see my parents, America, affluence. Many of the 150 orphans I worked with never saw a parent or…Showing them a new game, wrestling with them, scold­ing them—seemed to make their eyes shine brighter. They had beautiful eyes and smiles, even if there wasn’t much which stood out on their bodies.

Easter calls for a big feast in most American homes. At the orphanage it was no different. The kids gathered their tin plates and looked forward to the Easter breakfast of a plantin, mush—meant, I guess to be oatmeal, and a roll with a touch of jam inside. For lunch they gobbled the dahl (high in protein), curry with their hard roll.

Around 3:30 p.m. they’d have their daily snack of pow­dered milk. (Thrice daily Uncle Sam supplied the powdered milk, and most of the other food.) Dinner was also a treat for the curry sauce had meat in it and it rested on rice. Dessert was a piece of candy for every kid, with even a few pieces left over. The candy was a gift of a tourist.

Three hunks of bread, a small mound of rice, gravy with a few chunks of meat in it, three cups of powdered milk, a banana, and a piece of candy—filled. Their bodies couldn’t stand out, but the smile and love reflected from their eyes and teeth could, and they were as bright as any kid’s I had ever seen.

Zubair Shaik, about 11 when we came, could not under­stand our American humor, our jibes at the rote memorization he brought home from school, our desire to see thing work, our dissatisfaction with the way of life of the general population. Zubair looked up to us, like most Indians did, but it wasn’t just because he was small, like most Indians. He followed us around, and we took him around. When 1t was time for us to leave, he could reply to our jokes with his own snide, American-like wit; he could laugh heartily, and we loved him. And Zubair loved us. But it was Bill, his neighbor for 20 months, that Zubair loved most.

*       *       *

Bill left two days before I did. A large crowd of those who loved him gathered to bid farewell. It was a dear and trying situation for Bill and Zubair. In his last hour at the airport, Bill tried to stay out of Zubair’s range.

It was I who had to hold Zubair, first in my arms, then on my shoulders as Bill boarded and the plane taxied. It was a tragic departure, and yet it was beautiful. Much of what I saw in India was tragic, and yet it could excite a feeling of beauty.

Hollywood can make dollars produce beauty. It can produce “Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady” and the world marvels at their beauty. In India, the masses, the rich, and the PCVs use these produced beauties to escape the tragedy, ugliness, and their own weaknesses that they so often see around them.

I loved to escape to an air-conditioned movie and its solitude and excitement. I hated to leave them because it was a harsh return to heat, smell, crowd, and filth outside; and there wasn’t the hamburger or icebox to return to enroute to a comfortable bed. When you consider the number of losing battles you fought with bedbugs and mosquitoes, you didn’t even have a comfortable bed.

It was late when “My Fair Lady” ended. The streets were nearly deserted, relatively clean; stars were bright, and the air brisk and fresh. I whistled as I followed a guy and girl walking hand-in-hand.

I rounded the corner across from the Bombay Rugby Club, still watching the couple, still feeling content. I hardly noticed the stench from the garbage pile. (The city’s garbage is stacked at night in sheds, or when the sheds are filled, on the sidewalk.) There were about five piles, each two to three feet high, spread on the sidewalk to my left. The normal con­tingent of rats, dogs, and a cow or two engaged in snacking. I didn’t see any birds; normally they eat with the others.

I did, instead, notice a man. On a back pile, partially hid­den by darkness, squatted a frail, ragged man. I walked next to him, unnoticed by him. In silence, I watched him for about a minute. From his full squat, his hand moved over the pile; feeling a bone he pulled it, shook and brushed some other garbage loose from it, put it to his mouth, and chewed its remains.

In Hindi, I asked, “What are you doing?”

He replied, “Food, Shab.”

With that he weakly returned his face and hand to the pile. No beckoning for money was made, but I reached into my pocket for change.

“Thank you, Shab,” he said.

From bus windows, I had seen full grown men, robed in only a loin cloth, scavenge from daytime garbage piles. Walking the sidewalks, I had seen little kids recover broken egg shells from the same, dip their fingers into them, and suck the eggs’ remains. Then they’d find other shells which they’d run home to their hutments, or tenements with, I sup­pose for mother to perform her culinary magic on.

Next to these experiences I can remember the parties thrown by the movie stars, the rich businessmen, and their sons and daughters. I can remember the quantities of good food, when the law said no parties of more than five persons shall serve food.

I can remember the rich’s infatuations with drink, sleek clothes, Beatle albums, and sex. I could go to these parties and escape the experiences of the masses which I knew better and cared more about changing than the party-givers.

But I haven’t learned to forget that too many rich enjoy living on a hill while condoning the life of the masses in an earthly hell.


 

Teacher Tells Peace Corps Experiences

Glendora Press — Sunday, September 28, 1969

 Teacher Tells Peace Corps Experiences

Stark Reality of Life In India Told by Hunn

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the US. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next several issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

Rich escape the raw guts of life

To wine, dine, and be nice.

Poor survive on raw guts in life

To mind,
Perpetuate a crime

And await divine’s sublime?

Words

I don’t know if they can convey

Only in silence

Is the naked strength of poverty retained.

But in remaining silent

Will those tragic and beautiful chains

always remain? ….

Should they be ripped away?

(This year I am trying to be a teacher in mud-riddled California. When I started teaching, I felt I should, felt I’d like to convey some of the feelings and thoughts some of the following experiences ignited. Perhaps I wanted to do so be­cause they might make me stand out. I hope it is not for this reason, but rather because it is my little experience with a reality of life, a reality different, and not necessarily holier, than experiences many go through. It was a reality which was enriching for me, and which, even if only vicariously, I hope can be enriching to, or appreciated by others.)

*

It took about forty hours. To Beirut it had been all right, but from there I began to feel more and more like a sardine-­in-can.

On the ride from the airport to the hotel, I yelled to the bus driver to watch out for the car he was about to force into the middle ditch. Ira Kaye, our director, said, “Dwayne, if you can’t get used to that, you won’t be here long.”

I shut-up. With the rest of the group, I just stared from the windows at the hutments, pools of water, and masses of skinny brown people.

We settled into our rooms and then went down for lunch. Lunch was to the music of a rock group In the Beatle tradition. Not one of the band members spoke anything but Eng­lish.

I slept for awhile and then went out for a walk. The side­walk was filled with flitting sandals, white shirts, and little brown people. I towered above most of the crowd.

When a hand tugged at mine, I was aware of the pres­ence of children. I looked down and quickly turned away.

I felt—not embarrassed—bit that I shouldn’t look, I shouldn’t gawk, though I wanted to. I looked enough to know that the hole in the side of his mouth was the size of a half dollar. I saw the blackened gums, the rotted teeth—those that were, the ugliness of the hole.

He didn’t stay long. I don’t think I gave him any money; I had decided that I wouldn’t give to beggars. His friends stayed with me for about an hour and on later trips through that part of the city I would see them again.

*

Two days later, I hoarded a municipal bus for my work site. I served as a parade for the small brown people, for as I walked to the rear they all turned to stare.

Hadn’t they ever seen a white person ride a bus? Proba­bly not, I answered myself. The British had chauffeurs for the buses were too dirty, noisy, and crowded.

I had difficulty adjusting to their constant and intent ob­servance so I started staring back at them to while away the uncomfortable minutes. I did this for many months. Until, it seems, the city’s millions became accustomed to seeing young Americans on crowded buses, crowded trains, and bi­cycles—transportation that bad always been their domain.

I got off at Worli Chawis. It was a tenement area, but other than a feeling of the city’s ugliness that had been with me since deplaning, I noticed little more than some strewn garbage and many dirty, gray buildings with bars on the windows. Only later would I learn that each of the ten rooms (13’x l0’) on each of the four floors of each tenement housed between five and twelve people, that water ran for slightly more than an hour each day, that neighbor wouldn’t talk to neighbor because of class or religion. That was later.

*

Now I wanted to see where I was to live. I found the Ma­harashtra Labor Welfare Center, and on its second floor I found two or three Indians gesticulating in a bright, yellow painted, chair, new bed, table and sink. They were proud of what they had done to this once-tile closet. They had a spout bucket sitting on a shelf above it. They explained that a bucket of water would be brought to me each morning by the night watchman. Then they showed me my washroom.

It was down the stairs, around the front of the building, through an open passageway along the side of the building, and into the back of a small building which housed the public urinal, the stench from which was stifling. It was a 40-yard dash that I would sprint often in the next nine months. They had even bought a few piece of furniture for the washroom.

The sweeper and his family, who used the stall adjacent to mine, would squat for their relief. I had a throne to sit upon. They showed me the throne with a special zest, glee, pride, or something. They entered and beckoned me to fol­low for a close-hand look at the two toilets and one erratic functioning shower stall, all of which filled a space of less than 40 square feet. I didn’t immediately move in. I was trying to bolster myself.

Over the walls hundreds of large, healthy, brownish-red cockroaches were twitching their feelers and scampering around. My guides didn’t seem to notice them. Humans, I was quickly learning, didn’t constitute this nation’s only pop­ulation problem.

During the next nine months,  after much use of my sandals, the cockroaches, with their twitching feelers, would still rule the roost. As with people, cows, rats, flies, mosqui­toes, and bed bugs, I’d painfully accustom myself to crowds, even in my most private minutes.

During the first six months, there were many days and nights that I’d average 15-20 trips to my throne. Due to the distance, and the crucial seconds it would take to unlock the door, I sometimes was not in time.

*

Working at an orphanage, trying to establish a chawl library, a kitchen garden, a milk feeding program, teaching at a school for the elite, establishing a work camp for those stu­dents. playing and popularizing basketball, and trying to see and learn, kept me moving around the city. More than any period of my life, I was looking, listening, and trying to learn and understand.

I’d see the blind trodding through crowded trains singing their religious songs and asking for alms. I’d see the blind with their gouged eyes, the blind and the seeing with their pock-marked faces; I’d hear their wail, and I’d try to think.

I’d get of at a train station and move with the crowd through the exit. I’d pass under the bridge and see the beg­gar in his familiar spot. He could see, and so could I. I could see that all the fingers on his left hand were chopped off at the first knuckle. His right hand had three fingers. His right foot had a dirty, perhaps at one time, white, wrap around it. It had a big toe and a little toe. His other foot had only a big toe. Lacerations covered his shins and forearms. His tin cup lay at his side.

*

Others, like the woman with her two children, sometimes took advantage of the shade of the bridge. She was relatively healthy. Her children, probably both under 2 years, were even clothed, even had a few sheets to lie on. Many babies in Worli, and throughout the city, had no sheets to lie on. They crawled on the pavement as their mothers sold vegetables from burlap sacks to the throngs of passersby. Instead of clothes, their babies had their legs, pelvic areas, and bloated stomachs covered with sores.

Even now, as I write, I question the validity of what I put down. I question the validity when I pass the stories on to interested listeners. Did I really see those things? I have some pictures to remind me. Yet, pictures don’t make it what it was; people respond to them with a “They’re great.”

Pictures can’t tell it like it was, or express how it felt; nor, when I slow down long enough to remember, do I really recall all it was, or how it felt.

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed 27th Amendment

proposed *27th amendment

  national initiative

THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESERVE TO THEMSELVES THE POWER OF THE INITIATIVE. THE INITIATIVE IS THE POWER OF THE ELECTORS TO PROPOSE LAWS AND TO ADOPT OR REJECT THEM. AN INITIATIVE MEASURE MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED TO ALTER OR AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

vote of confidence (recall)

EVERY ELECTED OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES MAY BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE AT ANY TIME BY THE ELECTORS MEETING THE QUALIFICATION TO VOTE IN HIS STATE THROUGH THE PROCEDURE AND IN THE MANNER HEREIN PROVIDED FOR, WHICH PROCE­DURE SHALL BE KNOWN AS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE, AND IS IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER METHOD OF REMOVAL PROVIDED BY LAW.

"Take the initiative."