‘Slumdog’ Saga

1 05 2009

I know it’s really a bit late to be talking about the movie (Slumdog Millionaire) right now. There were already too many arguments, discussions and opinions on it on countless forums, blogs and what not. I can understand if you feel like you had enough of it.  

But something today made me think about it again and I couldn’t suppress the urge to blurt it out on my blog. 

An email thread on ‘Rush Limbaugh’s reference to Indian outsourcing workers as ‘slumdogs’, made me mull over this ‘slumdog’ thing all over again. 

Apparently, this controversial American radio host has referred Indians handling the outsourced jobs as slumdogs while speaking about recession and outsourcing. This is what he actually said: 

“If you’re sitting out waiting for a job that’s now being done by a slumdog in India, and you’re waiting for that job to be cancelled, for the slumdog to be thrown out of work, and you to get the job, it ain’t going to happen. It’s not the way economics works.” 

Read all about it on IBN Live

So, what does this incident illustrate?

Obviously, he has used that word (inspired by the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’) in an attempt to drive his point more strongly to his audience. I don’t think it even occurred to him that it might offend us or simply he didn’t care. 

And what can one make of this? There are two perspectives to look at it. One is from their (Americans/Westerners) side  and the other from our (Indians) side. 

Some of the reasons in my opinion are more basic and deep rooted in the minds of Westerners. 

  • They have an inherent superiority complex over anything third world
    ○ I feel that they don’t have a updated and/or a more comprehensive knowledge about the real India.
    ○ While some still think of it as primitive and poor, some visualize it as an enchanting place or mysterious land and some others simply think it as just not good enough, despite its achievement recently (which, sadly is true)
    ○ And there is this thing called ‘Outsourcing’ which deeply affected their attitude towards our nation and not in a good way.
  • I feel that they don’t have a updated and/or a more comprehensive knowledge about the real India.
  • While some still think of it as primitive and poor, some visualize it as an enchanting place or mysterious land and some others simply think it as just not good enough, despite its progress recently (which, sadly is true)
  • And there is this thing called ‘Outsourcing’ which deeply affected their attitude towards our nation and not in a good way.

Going back to the controversial movie ‘ Slumdog Millionaire, I have a few words to say about it:

The main reason , besides a good script, for the smashing success of the movie is undeniably that it showed a third world nation in a dark shade . In a way, they got what they wanted to see. They obviously won’t be as thrilled if they are shown the economic progress or other positive aspects. 

If you want to know my take on the movie, I was disappointed. I read the book (Q&A) before watching the movie and I absolutely loved it. The movie was a distorted version of it, albeit slightly, nonetheless enough to give a completely different feel and message.

On whether it deserves the Oscar: Considering the competition, it is the only movie which was both successful and fascinating.

Even though the movie makers insisted that they had no intention of demeaning India and no idea about the derogative effect the title might have, it is exactly what it resulted in creating.

All this is just one side of the coin.  On the flip side, what’s our part in their attitude? Are we trying enough to project ourselves in the best light? Are we educating them about the change that is happening in our country, our real worth? Are we correcting their misconceptions about our people or country? 

Can we really blame them for their unwholesome view of India, when we still have 27% of population under poverty line – the fact that is blaring all over the world? India seems a land of contradictions. You can see people in rags living under  thatched roofs just beside a five star hotel or a super specialty hospital. While we wish to project our recent development and progress in technology and others, Westerners can’t help notice the mire around it. 

We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress with each passing year. It is our duty and responsibility to educate others about our self-worth and progress. We should stand up against any unfair degradation to our country’s image. All at the same time while we are striving hard to make them take us more seriously by really developing our country. Simply ignoring such incidents as mentioned at the beginning of this post , only encourages others to behave in the same way. I guess our indifference or lack of serious action only helps in sending one or more of the following messages:

  • we are too lazy or self-centered to bother about the country
  • They are right
  • We lack courage and self-respect

I know that this topic deserves a much more deeper and comprehensive analysis. And I’m aware that I’m awfully inadequate to pursue that. So, I’ll stop it here!

Note: My intention in writing this post is not to raise another controversy or discussion or debate. These  are all my own personal views and if anyone finds it offensive in any way, let me know your concern.

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