Taking a trip down the Ganges in India turns out to be a great way of exploring the relative advantages and disadvantages of urban living compared to rural living in India, and a great way of exploring the advantages and disadvantages of urbanisation, a topic in A-level sociology’s international development module.
Thankfully for us plebs, you don’t need to have to go on a gap yah to experience such a trip, you can just settle for watching the recent BBC documentary – ‘The Ganges with Sue Perkins‘ in which she explores various villages, towns and cities along India’s longest river.
I can thoroughly recommend the first 15 minutes of episode three of this documentary – in which Perkins visits the rapidly developing city of Patna – she hooks up with half a dozen young Indian women learning trades, and seeming to be undergoing the whole ‘female empowerment’ thing, which seems in line with modernisation theory’s idea that urban settings break traditional values, and these women certainly seem to be looking forward to future lives of work based on a solid education, which would not be the case for them had they stayed in their villages.
However, where marriage is concerned, it turns out that their parents will still be choosing their husbands for them, so this isn’t modernisation theory writ large… it seems gendered traditions are still strong in India, at least in this example.
NB – there’s a lot more observations which demonstrate the complex interplay between modernisation and tradition in India all the way through this documentary – all in all, a very entertaining way to explore the non-linear ways in which ‘development’ occurs in India today.