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The Indian Slumdog

Posted by prakash on Friday, 13 March, 2009

23rd February 2009, 01:00:41AM, Munich, Germany.

The live telecast of the Oscar ceremony has just begun. The over dressed presenter has been trying to get as many celebs as possible to get to speak to him. While the other was listing out the competition in the various categories and the chances of winning the Oscar for the German Movie, “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex”.

However, what interests me, and that have kept me awake until this late hour, is the result of the “Best Picture” category. The result however is already enclosed in one of those golden envelopes to be opened in front of millions of viewers, very shortly. Yet, to many the winner is pretty clear. The Slumdog Millionaire. The BBC seems to have gone a step ahead to promote its home talent with the following headline.

23rd February 2009, 23:26:17AM, Munich, Germany.

The results are out. Indeed it is the “Slumdog Millionaire”.

Anyways, the point is not if the “Slumdog Millionaire” won or lost it, but the very theme of the Movie: The Slumdog.

I have read several articles where authors have vehemently criticized the movie while some even called on to boycott it. Apparently even the Big B wasnt very impressed. And i pause to think: why is it so hard for so many Indians to digest the movie? All it portrayed was the ground reality. The Indian “underbelly”. Was’nt it???

To me, the portrayal of the slums of Mumbai, in the movie, was not very offensive. Although it did cause a little discomfort, to watch how graphically it was presented. In fact, i was more uncomfortable, when i saw Shahrukh Khan getting down a Helicopter, and walking elegantly down the runway and through the magnificent halls of his palace, to be greeted by his Arthi wielding mother, in the movie, K3G.

To start with, why should one feel offensive about it? Slums are just part of every city’s landscape in India. Some have even become their identity, as is the case with Dharavi. Weather one likes it or not, it is true. And there is no place for denial.

On the other side, it should however be noted that many in the west “still” see India as a place to achieve spiritual nirvana than as a place to make business, as a place with littering holy cows than four-lane highways, as a place where girl children are despised and damned to death than where they are loved and given equal opportunity in every aspect of life and as a place of slums and slumdogs than places of innovative ideas and hard-working citizens trying to make a difference, in a multi-cultural, secular, and a relatively weak democracy.

However, one should be thoughtful than ashamed and should tune-in to the melodious track of “Jai-Ho” and be inspired, than undermining one’s spirit of hard-work and the focussed goal of reaching the top.

The Indian Slumdog,

- Prakash.

Talibanized Pakistan

Posted by prakash on Friday, 13 March, 2009

Many recent headlines have inspired me to start my first blog on this subject:
Mr. Zardari’s open admission that Pakistan is struggling to survive against the Taliban, the bold declaration of ceasefire by Taliban against the Pakistan’s forces and the signing of an agreement for the implementation of Sharia Law against ending violent attacks in the region.

These events not only highlight the power and the reach of the Taliban, but also the sad plight of Pakistan’s unstable government to keep in order what little of it is left in the region. The Taliban has arrived in Pakistan. It is making its presence felt. It regrouped, strengthened and re based itself in the region. The valley being just over 200kms away from Islamabad, make the matters even more harder to comprehend. Should we see it as the success of the Taliban to get a stronghold in the region so close to the capital or as the failure of the government not only on loosing control of the region but also for giving in to the demands of the group.

Implementing the Sharia law is just a pat on the back of the Taliban leadership for its performance. The region has already seen mindless destruction of schools, government buildings, implementing self-styled justice systems with beheadings of government supporters and sympathizers, and imposing a sense of fear among the people. So does this mean, its a clean chit to continue governing the region with its implementation of the Sharia. Then how is it different from what happened in Afghanistan??

Are we seeing just random incidents or is it the start of the birth of a new Afghanistan? What are the implications of these events on the World and importantly on India? Hard to understand …

Pakistan is already widely known as a base for exporting Terrorism, with the latest example being 26/11, Mumbai. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the siege of the Lal Masjid by Islamic militants, added to these events show that the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and finding roots and that no region, be it the tribal areas nor the capital, is immune to it.

Formerly isolated air strikes in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan by the coalition forces, have now become regular fortnight news, indicating that the focus of war is shifting from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The so called “Operation Enduring Freedom” is spreading. Isn’t this scary ??

- Prakash