Thursday, June 06, 2013


On my continuing India kick, an extraordinary three-part series on YouTube, Welcome To India 2012, about poor Indians who are trying to make more money. And I mean really, really poor. (Cellphones, however, abound.) What is so amazing about it is the relentlessly upbeat and wholly un-condescending attitude toward these people, as well as their own completely un-self-pitying attitude. And a lot of the work they do is, by Western standards, filthy and dangerous and degrading. But no transcending the world of illusion here; these folks are hustling. And they smile and laugh. A lot.

You could easily take the same stories and, with a different musical background and a different voiceover narrative, make them out to be hapless victims of some horrible something or other, capitalism, global inequality, whatever. Pope Francis would take you on a looooong guilt trip.

But nope, the approach is completely un-sentimental and chock full of Indian boosterism: Look how tough and inventive we are as we go after money, money, money. Even more amazingly, the BBC --the drearily leftist PC voice of dying Britain-- is involved. And not a hint of negative judgment in sight. Amazing.

You get to see a wholly different set of cultures and you get to see India completely absent the gooey spiritualizing haze that some Westerners like to lay over it. Family is hugely important. These people are tough, competitive, not at all above doing whatever it takes to make a buck.

The "poor" in America, by comparison, live like Byzantine royalty.



Anonymous said...

The poor grumble when they think- or are convinced- that they have been wronged, that they have a right to be rich. The poor of America have bought that story, hook, line, and sinker, but the poor of India evidently have not. They still think, and rightly so, that if they work hard, they have a shot at improving their condition.

What do you say we move to India if things go south here? Booming economy, an industrious populace, a millenia-old culture that respects the old and embraces the new, and a majority faith that emphasizes religious tolerance (all gods are a person of the supreme god Brahm) and teaches that homosexuality is natural? Intriguing.

It was British colonial law that forbade homosexuality; Hindus are conservative, but fairly tolerant. Traditionally, homosexual acts were thought of as a component of heterosexuality, a third gender, in a way. Hindu men are turned off by the effeminacy of "gay." Unfortunately, gay activists have made homosexuality less mainstream, as Hindu men avoid it for the stigma of effeminacy. This all sounds very familiar.

It is interesting that Asian cultures have a more positive, or at least neutral, view of homosexuality than Western cultures, at least those that did not tie it to the soldier/warrior tradition.


Leah said...

Fascinating. Going to India next year, puts the whole abject poverty in a very different light.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...