Here's a fantastic post by Alan over at Suspended Judgment.
I like how he explains that the "ugliness" of poverty, social hierarchy, etc. is well-hidden in the U.S., whereas in India they do not have the same practice of hiding. I have long noted this problem, but have not expressed it so eloquently. So often when speaking to students or even friends I come to a stand-still because they just do no encounter all the ugliness--sometimes even when it is right in front of them. Having lived through some socio-economic ugliness myself, I have been shocked in the past when people fervently deny my experience, e.g., what it's like to be poor, a graduate student, un- or under-employed but vastly over-qualified, etc.
People believe with their eyes unless they're believing with their preconceptions. Neither do anyone justice.