Monday, August 28, 2006
Why are Indians so averse to criticism??? I finally found the story that has pushed me to write this post. It was a ridiculous, ridiculous piece on ‘Slum tourism in Mumbai’ from a channel that exhorts us to ‘Feel the News’. I feel sick.
The two Indian anchors practically bullied two foreign tourists invited to their studio, for walking through the squalor of the slums of Dharavi and stripping its residents of ‘dignity’ and being totally ‘insensitive’ to these real ‘people’.
(They took the moral high ground that Indian tour operators were making money off India’s poverty.)
But frankly, who are we to talk about dignity and insensitivity? If we were so sensitive, we’d be thinking of ways to get foreign tourists to help these people lead better lives with their dollars, not abuse them for wanting to see the reality of India and for gods sake - stop lying to the world - it is a reality!
The beleaguered male foreign tourist said, “I agree that there might be some insensitivity in going through their slums, but these people were actually happy to see us. They were happy to talk about the industry in their slum and show us what they were manufacturing.’ Its certainly more than what most Indians have time for so what are we complaining about??
The female tourist was more combative. She said, “Of course, I’m here to see the slums. I want to see how people live. That’s why you travel.” Whats wrong with that?
The story ran a sound byte of some average Mumbai lady saying, “I don’t want others to see the dirty side of my city, Mumbai. That’s certainly not the side I want the world to see.”
I think its clasically representative of a misplaced pride that many Indians have. There is a certain rejection of the realities of India and a selective choice of things we are proud of. Real pride is when you accept these bitter realities not pretend they don’t exist.
Another instance of this misplaced pride is the hue and cry over the treatment meted out to the 12 Mumbai passengers detained by Dutch authorities for suspiscious behaviour. Admittedly, we live in unhappy, paranoid times but the Dutch authorities don’t call in fighter jets just to scratch a racist itch.
Such misplaced pride. Show the world your slums. Atleast it might bring in tourist money that you can use to improve the slums – the festering eye-sore you are so ashamed of but find no creative solutions to improve.
In an interview on the protests in Pakistan over the death of Baloch leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Tasneem Aslam, pretty much told India to mind its own business. She said, “Let India not worry about the protests in Pakistan. Let them concentrate instead on its flooding dams, its dying farmers and its malnourished children.” We will, when we aren't so busy trying to sell the world a half-truth.
Posted by Alaphia Zoyab at Monday, August 28, 2006