By Saloni A D:
India is noteworthy for its geographical, culinary and cultural diversity. India’s languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food and customs differ from place to place within the country. It is the only country in the world to have so many religions and beliefs. The culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse sub-cultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old. India, before the advent of British or even before that of Mughals, was a prosperous country. There was not a single person who would die of hunger or indebtedness. It was rich not only in its culture, area and cuisine but also economically. Then, of course, the Mughals, Britishers and many more foreign dynasties invaded India.
Especially during the rule of Britishers, India faced hardship, betrayal, revolution and much more. Since the time the Britishers left, India had lost most of its resources as we all know. The reasons behind the loss were many. And thus, India was left as a relatively poor state. But, the strength and confidence of great revolutionaries and freedom fighters slowly started to rediscover India and it started to ‘develop’. And from then, till now; after these many years of Independence, India has no doubt revived itself and has developed remarkably.
But, most of the foreign countries still portray India as it was when the Britishers left. And when I say so, it has much deeper feeling than you can imagine. Maybe, some examples would help to convey what exactly I want to say. The first and the foremost would be that of Slumdog Millionaire: the movie. India celebrated its success and the Oscar awards that the movie fetched. But, it is a stereotypical western portrayal that overlooks the wealth and progress India has achieved. It’s a foreigner’s typical imagination about India. India is ‘not’ a country filled with beggars, without any sanitation and without schools.
The movie portrays prostitution and corruption as a common thing in India. I agree that India has many corrupt officials. But not every person is corrupt and it is not as common as shown. I also agree that to a certain extent it is the prevalent reality, but not the whole of India is the way it is shown, not at all. It features Gangsters taking away orphans, blinding them and using them to make money. I don’t have a problem with these being shown in the movie. But, I have a problem because, this was ‘all’ that was shown in the movie. As an Indian, I feel that my country has so much more of a positive part to it that deserves to be shown to the world. When a friend comes to your place, you don’t show them your dustbin but your showcase. Compare this situation to your country. The house being our country, no doubt we are slowly throwing away the dirt i.e. corruption and poverty but, at the same time, we are showing only the dirt to our foreign friends, rather than showing them our trophies. How funny does that sound?
‘Slumdog shows only one poorest part of Mumbai and that does not mean that the whole of India is like Slumdog’. This is for those who made an opinion about India after watching the movie alone. This is only one example. There are many more examples where India is being portrayed similarly on an international level. Most of us watch the famous television series- ‘The Big Bang Theory’. In an episode titled ‘The Apology Insufficiency’, Rajesh is supposed to help out Howard to get a clearance by answering the questions of an FBI Agent who comes to visit him. Rajesh panics after she arrives and thinks that his VISA might get cancelled and says this to her- “I’m here on H1-B VISA which means that I can’t be associated in any way with crime or criminal activity and I am not. Please don’t send me back to India, it’s so crowded. It’s like the whole country is an endless Comicon except everybody’s wearing the same costume”. *Points towards himself and says in a disappointing tone*- “Indian guy”. Now, that doesn’t in any sense say something good about India. Does it?
This article is not about racism, but about a problem which is much more complex; ignored and unnoticed. I have seen TV shows being cancelled because they contained some kind of racist dialogues or topics, one such as ‘Outsourced’. But no one makes an attempt to ban something which is not real or just a fake image of a country. I happened to see a webpage which was headed as — ‘Indian stereotypes that bother you the most’; it included discussion topics such as ‘Smelly India’, ‘The caste system’, ‘Why is ‘little India’ a stinky town?’ etc. I feel hurt when garbage, beggars and unsanitary habits are shown in media about India.
I think I have conveyed what I intended to. I hope that a wave of change will definitely appear with regard to this ‘ignored’ topic. And those who think economically and not emotionally, this problem can also largely affect the tourism in India. We have to show people why India is called ‘Incredible India’.Incredible means something which is too good to be true and India is. The diverse culture, the hospitality, the mouth watering taste of Indian food, the languages, the dance forms, the variety of customs etc. are worth experiencing. The oceans that meet at the Southern tip of India, the Northern snowy mountains, the gorgeous plateaus, tropical forests, hill stations, fresh farms, tiny towns, attractive cities and much more form the Incredible India.
I am Proud to be an Indian and will always be.