When I read articles like this one that appeared on CNN today it irks me no end. Not only because it portrays India in a bad light but because with one generalization, the media paints over a broad spectrum of people. With a country as populous as India, there are bound to be pockets where progress is slow or at a standstill. Like as if the article was not enough, the comments section made me go off on a tangent. Don’t mistake me, I totally feel that the section of people that the article mentions need to be empowered. I am all for dignity of labor. What appalls me is the use of this story to sensationalize and graphically portray all of India in one broad category.

I dug up another article that appeared in The Hindustan Times about a year back. The reason I was able to search for and hunt this one up was because it made me think when I read it first.

Much has been talked about untouchability and the caste system on print, in the media and everywhere I know. There is no denying that the past has been cruel on a huge section of Indian society courtesy the rigid social mores of those days. But, I do believe society equals out. What goes under the name of reservation and government job quotas are effectively hitting the so called “FC” right where it hurts most. Economically.

How much longer is India going to be portrayed at the land of Elephants and Rajahs? How many more such articles are going to sensationlize random happenings and make it seem like all of India is this? When will we be viewed for the large vibrant democracy we are? When will the cultural treasures we own be front page news?

I have no clue. I only wish I will learn to walk by unaffected and believe in the best for my nation.

13 thoughts on “When?

  1. Same here….the comments are really infuriating. I wonder when the stigma/stereotyping will cease to exist, despite so much of advancement. I think ppl commenting should first evaluate their own racist/discriminatory comments b4 pointing fingers.

  2. We do certainly know that the Western world loves to cherry pick and highlight our social ills while convenientely leaving out the best of our civilization….. but I was encouraged today to hear Presidential candidate Barack Obama talk about, if only in passing, how the U.S. needs to strengthen its friendship with “the world’s largest democracy”, India- he mentioned in this in a major foregin policy speech today nationally televised by many media outlets, and I said, “finally!! wake up people, India is THE LARGEST DEMOCRACY IN THIS ENTIRE WORLD!!”

  3. I was also upset when i read this article and comments this morning.I was also wondering when people will realize that the whole country is not like as portrayed by the article.

  4. My 2 cents…I hate the reservation system and always think it would be better if everything was merit based. Though, I am sorry to say Laksh, this is a reality. We, growing up in metros and fairly advanced townships might not have really faced this caste system….but it exists.The “FC” has suffered as you said…but harsh reality is, there is still a large chunk of societal discrimination depicted in the article; especially in backwards states or areas. The Uttamapuram wall was one of the news items hogging headlines here for a while. One of many.
    Yes I am also irked when people think of India as a land of Rajas, snake charmers and elephants. Then I realised that it does not reflect on India. It reflects on how closed and archaic they are!
    I did not read all the comments..but think about this…everyone has their opinions. To many Indians here, America is a country where there are no morals and no family ties. Don’t all of us know that it is quite a different reality? That kind of generalisation happens.
    To B, it does not matter that Obama acknowledges that India is the largest democracy. He is also doing it to get the American-desi vote bank there. When it comes down to the hilt, he is a politician too. Besides, his comment is not going to change the common man’s opinion that is made unless he opens his eyes & ears and more importantly mind to see what India is.

  5. Laksh,
    I would like to differ slightly here. In my opinion, although India is making leaps towards becoming a stronger economy, one of the fastest growing, it does hurt to know there are still people of India who are not able to enjoy the benefits of it. I do believe strongly that though India is developing, the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, which is really really sad. A small example would be Bangalore’s rising cost of living. While the IT people are able to afford it, the aam janta of Bangalore are struggling to cope up with it.
    Being hurt economically is one thing, being denied respect is another thing.
    In cities we dont see it much, but I feel it is still prevalent in many rurals areas. Instead of getting offended by such news, we should (I mean India) should take some steps, and it is, to put a full stop to it by doing such things.

    But yes I do hear you the discrimination against FCs for college admission is atrocious. I have seen folks with terribly low marks getting into good colleges just bcos of the reservation, its bad, it does make ones blood boil.
    I suppose every good thing comes with a side effect.. :–(

  6. Laksh,
    You should look at this column as an opinion of just a columist and I would disagree to your point that “FC” are hit by Quota system.
    If Varna system was/is practiced for more than 3000 years,then the “Anti Varna” system – “Quota” system also should exist for another 3000 years right?
    For Bloggers who hail from Metros of B’lore, Chennai and Mumbai won’t realize that practice of Varna still exists thru’ out India even now.
    But that is something we need to fight against and also have the gut to accept it that it had been in practice for centuries. Of-course it will make “My Blood” boil, if someone(Forign columnist) points out our mistakes, instead of a “Arunthati Roy” πŸ™‚

  7. @Rekha: Some of the comments made me wonder if I should laugh or cry.
    @Arch: Absolutely my point.
    @B: Welcome here! I totally second your opinion.
    @Anila: True ain’t it. Stereotyping is dangerous more so when done by mainstream media.
    @Apar: I agree with what you say. My gripe is with the tone the article takes. It talks as if all of India acts and behaves like the place in question. No doubt most rural areas still are oppressed but it would help if the viewpoint was balanced.
    @SK: I totally agree with you. I know news articles like these can bring awareness but what I object to and feel offended by is the constant appearance of only curio/wierdo news about India. Either a eight limbed child born it its parents or people throwing a baby from the rooftop or this article. How about writing a piece on how the lives of people have changed with the arrival of cell phone technology or how the BPO industry is touching the lives of people in hiterto unknown ways? I have seen change in my surrounding and in my ancestral village. I have seen the town of Kumbakonam explode literally in ways unthought of a few decades back. While we cannot go back and fix every wrong I think there is no harm in forward thinking and believing in the best.
    @VillageBoy: Let me ask you a similar question. Just because slavery was practiced actively by the Europeans for centuries, do you think, all people who practiced it and their descendants must be treated as slaves? Varna system no doubt was practiced for many, many years and still is in many parts of the country. That does not mean do unto others exactly what was done to you. Reservation has taken its toll on the people against whom it is practiced. My only objection to reservation is that it should be need based. Anyways, the point of my post was that the media tends to view India through jaundiced eyes. They only cherry pick like B says the sad, depressing stories about India. Over time, I see this as a trend and my objection and irritation was to the tone of the article.
    LOL for the Arundati Roy comment πŸ™‚

  8. What I meant was (which could trigger a new set of arguments) that 40 years is not enough and whatever Reservation system in place, haven’t reached everyone.
    As you know (we have blogged about it sometime back) that we need updates/addendums to our reservation policies as time goes and as generations pass (like if a family used that Quota system to get into a civil service position, then that family must be removed from that quota system etc.. and I 100% support it).
    About the Media being prejudiced..hmm..we also need to look at other articles in businessweek today, where they highlighted the growth of BPO and IT in India and also the raising global players like TATA and Reliance.
    Yes there are some bias among certain columnist and their publishing Media to portray our country as under developed and pointing out our issues(they do it periodically to China as well and so we are not alone πŸ™‚ really shows that they are feeling threatened by our growth.To make you feel good, here is an excerpt from an article
    “According to Goldman Sachs, by 2050, three of the world’s four largest economies will be Asian: China, India and Japan. In fact, says Professor Kishore Mahbubani(google about him), β€œwe’re seeing a sort of renaissance. The past two centuries of Western domination are the exception, not the rule, if you look at the whole 2,000 years of global history. From 1 AD to 1820, the two largest world economies were China and India.”
    Don’t you think that these Media columnist are threatened by our growth.We must just dust this away and stay focused.

  9. @VillageBoy: Agree with you. Actually reading your comment made me smile πŸ™‚ Time to dust off an move on. Thanks!

  10. very interesting, even more interesting to see the debate between you and villageboy, havent seen you in this world in a long long time, villageboy, good to see you back. πŸ™‚

  11. Hey Laksh, I share the same thing as you. Once a client of mine asked so do you have electricity in India and a friend of mine answered no we run our comp’s on battery. Our media is also to be blamed for all this. On CNN one of days in world news all they could show of India was how in a village snakes are being used to cure some diseases all these ads on tv just project India in such a bad limelight. I too wish that they see the other side of India too.

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