Now as we already know about India – the land of diversity, rich history, vast culture and impressive delicacies that will certain leave you wanting for more. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when they hear about India is – the Taj Mahal. As you should be, for it’s one of the seven wonders of the world. Which is soon followed by forts and grandeur palaces stretching from Rajasthan to South India. To the tea gardens of Darjeeling and Assam to the snow-capped mountains of Himalayas. India is all about awe and beauty, but with every pro, there is a trailing con. And in this post, we are going to discuss the problems that you have to face, as a foreigner or stranger to the country, while visiting India.
Before we get into listing the number of problems that one might face while travelling to India, we would like to remind our foreign readers that although India is a very intriguing place to visit, it is a developing country where people have to struggle to earn their livelihood. A country with an exploding population of 1.2 billion people with diverse backgrounds, culture shock is unavoidable, especially if you’re a tourist. So, here are the top problems that you might face while travelling in India –
Poverty and Begging
Despite its rapid economic growth in the last few decades, India is a country struggling with poverty. Begging, along with poverty, is still one of the pressing social issues in India. It can be difficult to resist giving money to someone who is not used to see widespread poverty. However, there is a chance that you might be donating the money with goodwill but the question remains – will it be used for a good cause? Hardly so.
On an estimated level, around 5000,000 people are beggars in India. According to a survey, beggars can be categorized into two types. Those who have no choice are forced into it, and the other where one has perfected the art of begging and makes a substantial amount of money from begging.
Railway stations, shopping districts, religious and spiritual sites, traffic intersections, and monuments are places where begging can be most commonly seen. A child or a woman demanding to buy food for her child, or a person with a disability may often approach tourists in some regions. Beggars also rent babies from their mothers each day, to give their begging more credibility. Very strategically, they guide or try to earn sympathy by showcasing their financial status and asking people to help them. In some cases, they try to forcefully impose themselves on the visitors.
While it may sound heartless, it is usually best to ignore beggars in India. They may try to pull your heartstrings with their condition, but it is not possible to provide for so many. If you give one beggar, it will attract others. Also, beggars can be deceptive with their smiles or pleading faces, do not fall into their traps. Stick to giving between 1-20 rupees, not more than that. Avoid giving money to women with babies because the babies aren’t usually theirs.
Sanitation and Hygiene
While the recent government has taken several steps towards better hygiene and sanitation in India, the present status still falls under major social issues. Seen as the cause of many problems or illness for tourists, sanitation and hygiene are severely lacking in India.
The idea of relieving themselves in open grounds, like in playgrounds, behind trees, in farms, by roadsides, and on railway tracks, and riverbanks is a very common idea in practice. The country lacks decent toilet facilities, especially in the villages. Along with this, tourists may be discouraged with the amount of degradable and non-degradable wastes that are scattered in heaps in open spaces. Furthermore, the casual spotting of cows and buffaloes on the streets is a common sight, along with their dumps. This not only invites flies but the contamination of water further encourages the birth of mosquitoes.
While the population looks forward towards the new sanitation and hygiene laws and its implementation, we advise our travellers to take safety precautions before they set out on their journey. A small Google research should make you aware of the place you are going to visit. Carry mosquito repellents for mosquito repellent creams. Air mask to prevent the intake of pollution. Carry sunscreens, sunglasses, hats and scarves. Drink water only after boiling it, followed cooling it in room temperature. Steer clear from pest infested areas. Taking these small steps shall prove helpful when travelling suburbs.
Frauds and Scams
A very much common discussed topic among the problems in India is the topic of frauds and scams. The cases of frauds and scams are not only prevalent in India but other countries too. So consider this more like a general tip – to be aware of frauds and scams no matter where you visit. But since we’re talking about India, at the moment, we will focus on that. It’s impossible to come to India and not encounter at least one scam or someone trying to rip you off.
As a general rule, when someone approaches you in India, they do so for a reason and more than likely it’s because they want to take advantage of you in some way. You shouldn’t be paranoid, but it’s wise to be very aware and cautious. Markets, heritage sites, religious and spiritual sites are the places where these frauds and scammers can be spotted.
Being an ever-growing country with a massive population of 1.2 billion, crowd is a very pressing social issue. But you might already know it. The population is so vast, and it is expanding day-by-day. The reason for this population explosion might be the migration of a considerably large population from rural to urban areas for various factors such as jobs, education, security, and more. These cities, especially the metropolitan areas, are teeming with life and the sheer amount of people. It doesn’t help that lining up in an orderly manner are quite unheard of in India. Simply because there are so many people, everyone strives to get in front of everyone else to avoid missing out. Pushing-in and shoving other people out of the way are common practices.
Thankfully, the recent government has taken some serious initiatives to control or regulate the population growth of our country. But what is more, concerning is the present population. Tourists may feel at unease to tackle such an overbearing crowd on public transportation or at temples. With surrounding bodies and very little space, a tourist may be obliged to feel claustrophobic. The crowd rush is very common, especially in metropolitan areas.
There is no efficient or better way to tackle crowd, but if you are amongst those rich tourists who don’t mind paying extra, then you should definitely travel by ubers or Olas or private cars, which are available in plenty. It’s important that you stand your ground and not be afraid to push back or tell someone off. Check the ideal timings beforehand before going to visit temples or places where you might expect a larger crowd. Taking these factors into account can make a, though small, change in your itinerary.
Staring and Unwanted Attention
Indians, as a whole, are essentially considered “a brown race”. It’s not like fair-skinned people are not born here, in fact, there are plenty. But spotting a Caucasian with blond hair or an extremely tall person of African descent is quite a bit of intrigue for the majority.
Some Indian men openly stare and make unwanted advances, often including groping and photographing. Be aware that in many cases a photograph is not a harmless photograph, they will show it to their friends and make up a story to go with it. Ladies will feel much more comfortable travelling around India with a male companion. Although staring will still be prevalent, Indian men will be much less likely to approach you. Moreover, it is advisable to wear clothes that show less skin, for it may call for unwanted attention of male gaze, and also prevent your skin from the sun and such sweltering weather. Additionally, we advise foreigners to take precautionary efforts while travelling in India.
India is not a violent country when it comes to robberies. However, there are many thieves waiting for the right opportunities to take advantage of people’s carelessness with their possessions. The majority of thefts in India happen to hapless visitors who have failed to take adequate precautions. Stealing of purses out of ladies’ handbags that are left open and pick-pocketing is extremely common, especially in public transport. Don’t flash your valuables around and make sure you carry them safely in a fastened bag, preferably one that is worn across your shoulder. You should also take care not to leave valuables lying around in your hotel room, and make sure your luggage isn’t left unattended anywhere. Small padlocks are useful for securing your bags, especially when travelling long distances on Indian Railways or intercity buses trains.
Lack of personal space
As we have already discussed the problem of crowds and lining up in India, you must be familiar with India’s growing population by now. Since India is a community-oriented nation, the concept of privacy and personal space, here, is very different as opposed to the western countries. The idea of privacy is still foreign among some elder peers even though the urban people are far more advanced in their thoughts, accepting westernized concepts of culture and habits. So you can basically consider the idea non-existent.
Although a large section in metro cities are comprised of nucleated families, large or joint families often live in small homes, so having your own space is unheard of. However, it’s easy for foreigners to feel that people in India get too close to comfort. Things that are commonly accepted as standard polite behaviour in the west, and are not widely practised in India is keeping a respectful distance and not being intrusive. This includes entering bedrooms without knocking, and looking through personal belongings. Make sure you have a peaceful place to retreat, for it can be disconcerting if you’re not used to it.
And with these, we come to a conclusion that while you may face these problems while travelling not only in India but abroad too, it’s not mandatory to presume you’re guaranteed to expect them. There are several instances and travelogues where people have good experiences. Take precautionary measures while travelling. Drink lots of fluid and fresh food to combat the weather. Carry sunscreen, umbrella, shades, hats, and scarves whenever necessary. Be creative with your Google searches. It’s the age of technology and modernity, you cannot just entirely expect to depend on your travel guide. It’s our earnest wish to communicate with our readers and give them all the relevant information they require. Have a safe travelling!
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