Quora: What are some things that you can do in India but not in the US?

Some of the other answers are pretty good as well, but this one is probably the most feel good.

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

1. I can go to a doctor with no insurance, no paperwork, get treated, buy  medicines and come back in an hour with a total expenditure of just  $1-$2. (This is a private practitioner who was educated almost for free by the government. Typically, a GP sees 50-100 patients everyday and makes $200/day.) And some of these doctors are the best in the business. This is  one of the things where India knocks most countries hands down[1]. It is not just cheap, it is also also as uncomplicated as going to a grocery store. In fact, our doctors become good family friends and act as everything from a notary to a life consultant 😉

2. I can go and buy healthy stuff cheaper than unhealthy stuff. A kilo of  fresh mango costs about Rs. 20 ($0.35) during season while a 1 liter bottle of Coke  costs Rs. 40 ($0.70). Same with idli vs. pizza or roti vs. Big Mac. In India, you  have to pay big bucks to eat unhealthy. In the US, it is the other way  around.

3. Weddings, festivals and family events. India again wins hands down. Try spending Holi in Delhi, Ganpathy Pooja in Bombay, Durga pooja in Calcutta and Pongal near Madurai and you will see what is incredible about India. In US, except for July 4 and to some extent Christmas, most festivals are low key. I’m surprised that most people don’t even come out to the streets to celebrate Christmas or New Year in most US cities.

4. Drop in randomly to relatives/friends homes. Although in some Indian metros, people are acting “Western” and requiring appointments to go to their home, in most normal Indian homes you can drop in without an appointment. My wife and I always go to our inlaws place without notice to surprise them. This element of chance & surprise adds to further excitement. In the US, I find things too formal.

5. Get stuff repaired instead of throwing to landfill. Indians are very efficient in repairing/reusing stuff. In the US, people throw out their gadgets and appliances as soon as they reach the first failure. In India, you can go to a mechanic/electrician and get stuff repaired. The amount of waste generated per person is extremely low.

6. Low cost education. We can spend weeks on finding what is at fault with our education system, but the fact of the matter is that we are very efficient at what we are doing. Most of us went to private schools where it costs less than $500/year (although, this is changing as more parents want trophy schools now). Our colleges are only a little more expensive than that. This is despite the government spending almost nothing on our education. Most students in the US are overburdened with debt just after their college. It is not just cheap, it is also safe. Whether it is rapes, murders or shootings, our colleges do far better in managing crimes than do US campuses. Even during major riots, you will never see a major campus of IIT/IIM/NIT affected in any way.

7. Public Transportation. In almost all Indian cities there is viable public transportation. If there is no bus or train, there will always be a ubiquitous autorickshaw costing about $0.2/km. In the US, I had terrible problems going from one city to an another before I bought my car.

8. Affordable entertainment and communication. In India, almost anybody (even a slumdweller) can afford cable TV. A full service cost about $2-$8/month. Same for mobile phones where incoming calls are mostly free and one can have an usuable phone plan for about $5/month. However, in the US even many upper middle class families have to think twice before going for full cable service.

9. Walkable cities and towns. India has not yet moved to a US style suburbian sprawl. That means in most towns & cities we can walk/bike to most essential amenities – grocery shops (h/t Niranjan Uma Shankar), medical clinics, restaurants.

10. Political system. We sure have got plenty of troubles in our democratic setup, but ours is the only democratic setup where a minority can rise up to the top with no background. When Abdul Kalam became the third Muslim President in 32 years, India’s right wingers didn’t howl. This is in sharp contrast to how US right wingers reacted to Obama’s little bit of black lineage. The President was born to a white mother, raised in white neighborhoods, went to Ivy leagues, but still was trashed by the right wing. President Kalam had no political background, no strong network and no money, just lots of brains to get him up there. Although our population is 85% Hindu, we have had Sikh Prime Ministers and Presidents, Muslim Presidents, Zorastrian business leaders… Can a Hindu/Muslim immigrant realistically become a premier in Italy or Germany or Australia? We are not perfectly secular, but this is one aspect where we beat every other nation in the world.

11. Finally, good food. I live in a nation where a Samosa costs Rs 4 ($ 0.08). In Mumbai, we used to have a great dinner at roadside shops for $1 (for 2 of us). Whether it is Idly, Papdi chat or Samosa, it is a luxury in the US. I miss the chats of Delhi & Mumbai, Saravana Bhavan of Chennai and Rosgollas of Calcutta.


[1] Our medical system is so direct & simple, if you are not dirt poor. One of my close friends had a mild bout of fever as soon as he came to the  US. In India, this is a pretty simple thing. Here, the doctors made him take so many stupid tests that the bill finally ran to $800. Good that his insurance coverage started the previous day. Still, he had to run around filling up papers for a whole week.

Endnote: I  can also name 11 or more things where you can do in the US but not in  India. So, it is not about jingoism or one nation better than the other.  It is just a discussion about relative merits of one nation vs. the  other. Every nation is great in its own way, and there are some stuff that one nation beats the other, while in other stuff gets beaten.

Quora: Given our current technology and with the proper training, would it be possible for someone to become Batman?

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na! Batman!

Answer by Mark Hughes:

I know everyone hates having a question answered with “it depends,” but…

It depends. WHICH Batman, the one in the current film franchise, the one from the current monthlies, the one from the Justice League, etc etc?

I am going to make an assumption here, in order to best answer your question.  We’ll put aside the issue of Batman trained by ninjas in the films, or the question of whether in the comics Batman operates with sort-of-superpowers when interacting in stories alongside Superman and other such characters.  By “become Batman” you mean the basic concept of Batman that we all could agree upon — a master of martial arts, of forensic and detective skills, of gymnastics, of science and chemistry, of history and geography, of the workings of organized crime, of criminal psychology and physiology, and a man with a suit offering protection against bullets and knives and electrocution but which allows him to move as fast as an Olympian runner and acrobat.

The simple answer is, no.  Unless you really boil Batman down to a very diluted level as just a really strong, fast, good fighter who can jump far and with good street smarts plus an education in crime and psychology, and who wears a lot of armor and a mask.

The genius of Batman is that it pretends to be realistic, it lets us convince ourselves that with enough money and training, we could become Batman, too. But it’s still fantasy, it’s just a fantasy that is more compelling and convincing and thus more fun.

If you joined the military and became something like a Delta Force commando of the highest quality, while studying nights to get a double-major in criminal justice and psychology (with a minor in chemistry), then you might also have time to take weekend courses in detective work and get a P.I. license. Then, after probably 10 years to reach all of those levels combined, you might be 28 (if you started right out of high school) and would then need to maintain your physical level while getting a job as a police officer in order to learn real crime solving and detective work on the streets and at crime scenes, to get the experience it would really take to be a master.  Let’s say you are so good it only takes you perhaps three years to become a top detective and expert in these regards — now you are 31, and just finished the most basic level of preparation you need to be an expert in just some of the most obvious fields required to match Batman.

Now you have to quit the force, and develop a good cover story for yourself so nobody suspects that Batman might be the guy who is an expert in all of those fields Batman is a master at.  You have to have made sure you lived your life never revealing your true feelings about crime and vigilantism etc, and in fact covering it up unless you want to be arrested as a suspect the first time Batman has been around town. You need to spend some time doing dry runs around town to find your way around rooftops and fire escapes, practice running around at night in the shadows and not being seen, and presumably start practicing using your ropes and grappling hooks and other equipment you need for nightly patrols. Do some dry runs, make final preparations in case of emergencies, etc.

And you need to have been investing money and amassing a fortune the entire time, because the technology you’ll need to even get close to a real-world version of Batman will cost millions of dollars.  So you’ve done that, and now you start spending the money to get an armored suit full of electronics to communicate with assistants and have night vision and so on.  You need a base of operations, so you buy one of those old used missile silos the military sells (yeah, they really do that, and it’s pretty cool inside them) and turn it into a secret headquarters for the computers and monitoring equipment and car and bike and other equipment you need for your vigilante life.

Conservatively, you should probably be about 32 at this point. And you are only about to go out on your first night as Batman.  Okay, it’s taken longer than expected and been pretty hard, and honestly you are not quite as much a master of all fields as Batman, but at least you got the basics and are pretty well trained and smart and equipped.  So off you go, looking to stop crime…

…and you’re looking.  And looking. Oh, wait, you hear police sirens or you get a transmission from picking up the police radio calls, there’s a domestic disturbance in progress… well, that’s not really what Batman does, so you let that one go to the cops.  Then you get another call about a robbery, ah ha!  Finally Batman is going into action!  You run across those rooftops, swing across to another roof — whoa crap, that was a lot more dangerous than it looks in the comics!  But you’re booking it, running flat out and probably hitting, what, a good 10 miles per hour? Maybe less actually because of having to dodge things and stop at the edge of the roof to swing down again.

Anyway, there you are, rooftop to rooftop, and it occurs to you that the cop cars are so far gone now that you barely hear the sirens. So you think “Hmm, no wonder the real Batman has a car, this rooftop thing looks cool but I’ll never make it in time to stop a crime that isn’t happening within a block or two.”

And you don’t — make it in time, that is.  The first few nights, you keep showing up and the robberies or shootings or whatever are already over, and you realize that this makes sense because most reports about crimes are only after it happens, not while it’s taking place.  And you also remember that as a cop, you almost never just walked up or drove up accidentally right where a crime happened to taking place. In fact, you were just one of several thousand cops in your city, and most of you never just stumbled right across a significant crime in progress.

By your second week, you are getting unhappy that 90% of the crimes you’ve even seen up-close are just pathetic junkies buying crack from another pathetic junkie selling drugs to support his/her own habit. And nothing makes you feel LESS like Batman than scaring sad homeless crackheads.  You tried to chase down a kid who you saw punch a lady and take her purse, but you can’t really pursue that kind of thing by running on rooftops, you gotta do it the hard way by chasing him on foot down the sidewalk… in your full Batman costume, where everybody can see you. People are taking photos on cell-phones, and yep there’s a cop car at the intersection and he saw you, and now he has his lights on and it’s YOU he’s after. Great, you have to let the kid go so you can run down an alley and climb up a fire escape to the roof to get away.

At last, week three, you get lucky — an armed robbery, right there across the street!  You leap down onto the hood of their car, cape over the windshield just like in The Dark Knight Returns. And a teenage kid in the passenger seat fires a shotgun though the windshield in panic, blasting your torso.

You are wearing armor, though, haha!  So it merely shreds your costume and knocks you off the car onto the street, but man that hurts!  And it takes your breath away just long enough for the car to speed off. You get up, angry and just in time to see everyone taking your photo again and staring at your shredded outfit.  Then the police come around the corner, and you run off again but this time you are injured because although the armor stopped the slug it still bruised you and broke a rib.  You are fast, but not fast enough this time.  The police draw their guns and order you to stop.  You turn and grab for the smoke pellet on your belt to help hide your getaway, but unfortunately for you the cops see you reaching for something and open fire… and you suit’s armor is already a mess from the shotgun blast earlier. Uh oh.

When you wake up in the ICU, your mask and costume are gone, you’re in a lot of pain, but the doctors successfully removed the bullets and re-inflated your lung.  The downside is the set of handcuffs trapping you in the bed.  As a master detective, you can of course easily pick the lock on the cuffs to escape, but on the other hand the staph infection you caught after surgery is pretty bad and you feel like s**t. So you wait until night to sneak out — except you fall asleep on your pain meds, and wake up the next morning to the police coming to pick you up and take you to the infirmary at the state prison. Where you will spend a month recuperating until they can transfer you to the county jail for your first court appearance. During which your only comment to the judge is, “I guess it’s not really possible to become Batman.”

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na! Batman!


Quora: What made Mahesh Murthy start his crusade against IIPM and Arindam Chaudhury?

Straight from the horse’s mouth…

Answer by Mahesh Murthy:

I have answered this elsewhere on Facebook, but it may be tough to make out a timeline from the fragmented posts there. So here’s some sort of general progression of events. This will be long, so brace for the ride:

  • 2005 – yes that long ago – JAM magazine writes about IIPM’s tall claims. See their redacted articles @

    @ and

    and @


  • IIPM does the nasty – it sues the publisher of JAM in Assam – where she chooses not to contest because it’s too much of a pain to go there and fight a case – and a court order comes from there essentially asking her to remove said articles from the net. She does. Thankfully, others put it up so you can still see it.
  • At the same time IIPM runs a rather disgusting bad-mouthing campaign against the publisher of this piece, saying she was expelled from IIMA for lesbian sex and/or failing to get good grades etc.
  • Then a few months later, Gaurav Sabnis blogged about the lies that IIPM used in their ads. IIPM responded by blackmailing Gaurav’s employer IBM who it had bought laptops from – and this ended with Gaurav leaving / losing his job. More details are @Vantage point: An Update.
  • This pattern of publication followed by threats followed by deletion followed.
  • Then Maheshwar Peri of Outlook Group / Careers360 stepped in. He was quite aware of the JAM and Sabnis issues and went ahead and published an enormously damning expose of IIPM as a fake education company in @Best only in claims?.
  • The IIPM response was prompt. Peri got sued in Guwahati. But unlike JAM he went and fought there. IIPM got a stay order, convincing a judge that Careers 360 could not publish more articles on it till the defamation case was resolved. Once the stay order was obtained, IIPM then promptly never followed up in Guwahati and deliberately has avoided any further court dates since 2009. So it’s a stalemate there.
  • Unfazed, Peri continued. This time IIPM sued him in Uttarkhand. But Peri fought and won. The judge, in fact, asked for IIPM to be banned. @Think higher education! IIPM: Uttarakhand Registrar recommends a ban.
  • Meanwhile, every single claim IIPM made in its ads was falling apart. It’s apparent European b-school degree granter was found to be a fraud. It’s apparent collaborations with universities in UK and US were found to be non-existent. In fact, everything stated in IIPM ads was a lie. And as my friends at The Times of India tell me, IIPM has a contract with all print papers saying, in effect, “if we give you ads, then you can’t write about us without our permission” so they had ensured censorship there too. For a few years, IIPM was the largest print advertiser in India.
  • Other journalists tried to piece together a story. Siddhartha Deb wrote a balanced piece in Caravan. It also served as an intro to his book on modern Indian business. A lawsuit was filed against them. The book – actually the IIPM excerpt of the book was banned via legal wranglings. As was his piece. It is mirrored here: @Sweet Smell of Success- How Arindam Chaudhuri made a fortune – Pastebin.com.
  • Other found that in contrast to the apparent world-class education IIPM claimed to offer its students for their Rs. 15 lakhs, what they actually offered was a correspondence degree from MS University in Thirunelveli that one could get direct for Rs. 17,000
  • A host of “Delete” requests went from IIPM and its legal efforts to Google, various web sites (including Facebook) to get this content to stop coming up. Google said no way. Facebook complied.
  • Through all this, I just wanted to keep the content in one place. So I published a bitly bundle of links @Dare to think beyond IIPM’s lies & daylight robbery. Its distance learning 2-yr MBA costs Rs. 17,000 if taken direct from the same MS Univ in Tirunelveli. Why pay more to these scamsters? See documents below. to make sure the content wasn’t lost through the legal wranglings and the harassment.
  • Then all was quiet for a few years. I suddenly am told that this bundle of links is #2 in a list of links ordered to be blocked by the DoT after it received a court order from Gwalior based on a petition filed by some IIPMtard there. Medianama has a comprehensive listing of IIPM censorship attempts @3-7% Paid Users in India, Close to Global Standards – Linda Kozlowski on Evernote in India. The #1 link was the UGC Govt Of India link that called IIPM a non-degree granting body.
  • This pisses me off. IIPM gets a court to block what I wrote – and I wasn’t called to defend it? And it was done ex-parte? So I decide to engage.
  • I have a few Twitter followers now, so I start tweeting: Search – maheshmurthy iipm
  • I also engage on Facebook. Facebook sucks at content search and I yet don’t have its graph search so I can’t leave a robust set of links for this. But here are two https://www.facebook.com/maheshm… and I understand… | Facebook
  • By now this thing starts to go viral – and hundreds, sometimes thousands of people re-tweet, re-share and a significant chunk of India online figures out the man is just a scamster.
  • IIPM responds by hiring people who write on the posts under fake names and fake profiles. Allegations that Pinstorm didn’t get his digital marketing business so we’re retaliating (ha ha, bloody ha). I out the fake people, including one Krishanu Bhattacharjee writing as some Rohina Dubey.
  • He comes back with a “Happy 75th birthday Daddy” campaign across all print media to try re-instate his reputation. So I responded with evidence that his dad’s qualifications were also likely fake.
  • That was 6 weeks ago. There was a full-page Economic Times story How IIPM’s Arindam Chaudhuri built the Rs 533 crore business that did further damage.
  • And hey, things have been quiet since! I’m waiting for more news to break.
  • I have no particular grouse with this man – and didn’t have any for many years. I got after him only when he had me banned.
  • And now I do think he deserves to be outed. The world of education in India is full of scamsters and thieves. But none are as loud and loutish as this one.
  • I hope students stop enrolling with him, and I hope his business collapses – for all the lies he’s said so far.

Hope this helps,

My $0.02

Mahesh 🙂