Chapter 6. India's Invisible Infrastructure

India is not comfortable, at all. Even in the most developed cities, the priciest hotels are usually surrounded by slums. Wafting through the air is the smell that results from so many people living with no running water, no electricity, and no sewage system. Out of 1.1 billion people, the World Bank estimates that just 33 percent of Indians have access to modern sanitation, and some 300 million live below the poverty line. In India, you never just happen upon a slum. You can always smell them coming. And yet, the sight of the slums is so much harder to take.

The traffic is the worst I've seen in any country. In China, drivers ignore speed limits and lanes, but they manage to move together like a school of fish, weaving in and out of each other's paths harmoniously. In India, driving is a zero-stakes game of survival for each patch of cracking asphalt between mopeds, rickshaws, cars, ramshackle trucks, grungy cows, mangy dogs, mud-caked pigs, and beggars who wander between cars, tapping on windows with hollow expressions, trinkets, and outstretched hands. Even if the traffic were light, drivers frequently don't know where to go because there's little urban planning and few street signs. It's this bad, and so far fewer than 5 percent of Indians have their own vehicles. On top of that, there are sewage backups, power outages, and other daily manifestations of an overtaxed, unplanned, outdated urban infrastructure.

India's tourism board spent ...

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