Dear Editor,

I happen to be travelling in India. I am at a location in Varanasi 200-300 yards from a major Ghatt site on the Ganga (Ganges river) where each evening an Aarti ceremony is performed for two weeks preceding the Holi festival. I was surprised to see so many foreigners (Japan, Brazil, France, Korea, Britain, foreign Buddhists) and visitors from all other States of the Indian union attending the ceremony. Apart from the exuberance and joy, the ceremony marks a certain pride and confidence of the Indian people in their cultural festivals.

Today (Holi), at a major intersection (300 yards from the river Ghatt) I would estimate two million people trekked to the river from early morning to do ritual prayer and bathing/washing. And, at the intersection, huge crowds (mostly teenagers and young people) numbering into tens of thousands danced to Holi and pop songs for hours (8:00 – 2:00 pm) on the streets, as coloured powder filled the air and coloured water is thrown at intervals from above.

This Holi celebration differs from Guyana’s in two ways:

– Dancing on the streets by thousands

– No alcohol

All over where I travelled I saw evidence of an Indian nation less subservient (because of poverty and a culture of bakshish) and growing more self-confident. Evidence of a nation on the rise is everywhere.

The biggest problem (in my opinion) is the pollution. A steady and fast GDP growth is a priority – but what good is it if tens of thousands of people in all big cities are developing respiratory illnesses due to diesel exhaust pollution? The solution is simple – stop burning diesel petrol and close the coal-burning power plants.

One last comment. If I ask ten persons for their political views – not nine but all ten will say they support Prime Minister Modi. It is hard to find a phenomenon like this in any other country.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Persaud

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