India has a stratified culture. We cannot enter that culture without becoming part of the class structure; we have a place, as western tourists, and we have responsibilities. The poor here are very poor, and a rupee can be made to go a long way. Eighty percent of people live in villages in India, and they do whatever is needed to survive. The beauty of the culture is that there are so many layers and there is so much complexity that one can spend a lifetime trying to learn about India, but never really getting there. What we see as corruption and fraud in our culture is people trying to survive in this culture.
Everything here has value. The women scavenge for wood during the day, and transport it back home on their heads. When there is no wood to burn and the nights are cold, dung is used. Despite the fact that dogs, cows, pigs, and goats wander the streets, there is less poop on the street than you would see in New York City or on the dog runs in Calgary. The dung is collected, mixed with straw, dried, and used for fires to cook or to keep warm. It is harsh to watch an old man picking up dog poop with his bare hands to use for burning.
There is no central heating, yet it can get quite cold in Northern India. In one place we stayed, we were very cold at night. We needed warm clothes. In the dining areas, which are open air, small wood burning mobile firepits are used - and they are quite effective, and socially appealing. Throughout the land, after sundown, people are seen huddled around the fire at all sorts of places, on the street and next to houses.