Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Real India

My point about 'Real India' is not that a cowshed in Amethi is not 'Real India'. No, it is quite real and quite India. My point is that Rahul-baba a la Sarah Palin's comments about 'real America' is missing the point. Rural folk might outnumber us by a factor of two to one, India is still an overwhelmingly rural country, though, the latest delimitation for the Lok Sabha does acknowledge the rise of urban areas.
My point is simple, there is no 'unreal' India - everything from the cocaine dens of South Bombay to the cowsheds in Amethi or elsewhere are quite real. I've seen reality, in fact I might have seen more reality than most urban, English journalists. My trip to Vidarbha is still one I can't quite forget, that was a particularly hard story, not as a story but dealing with the fact that what is going on is quite different from the perception that even we in the media pass on. It wasn't easy to deal with reality head-on, which is why I guess in India we like the fantasy that Bollywood and cricket delivers. But then again, that fantasy is also part of the real India.

PS: The Press Trust of India does an easy way of syndication of foreign news - essentially copy an article, give it some credit though. That said, isn't that what most foreign correpondents do? In fact, Chiddu and Saibal in ToI and Sutirtho in HT are leagues ahead of the usual crowd. The Hindu carries a lot of international news but sometimes making head or tails of what they're saying through their red-tinted glasses is nearly impossible. My two paise only, no wait my two rupees only, haven't seen a smaller denomination coin outside calcutta for a while.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for highlighting the "real india" issue. This is not directed at you, but against those of us (most notoriously, "patriotic" NRIs) who throw a fit whenever they see a BBC reporter standing against a backdrop of cows and poor people and doing an "Indian" story.

I'm not claiming that any India is unreal... but yes, I would certainly claim that those who constitute over 70% of our population have a much bigger claim to the iconography and the visual representation of India than do the software engineers, the stock traders, the PSU employees, and the coke-snorters.

The TV channels & newspapers only deliver content that is of interest to urban India - their customer base. That's why we have the howling absurdity of the stock market and Lalit Modi dominating Indian news while debt-ridden Indians elsewhere starve and commit suicide. If this is not a scandal, I don't know what is.

Naturally, we are liable to commit the the folly of believing that India is whatever we encounter inside the media bubble. That's why the sudden appearance of a cowshed on TV always seems a tad overdone. I wish the media covered more cowsheds, even if at the behest of cynical politicians.

blogtrotter said...

Indians love to live in fantasy because reality is a nightmare.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Dear K,

agreed that contentsutra has been breaking scoops after scoops lately, but that doesn't stop you from commenting on them and taking the debate forward (in particular the two widely contrasting e-mails at bccl and ie). ...there'e always a difference between a part-time and full-time reporter.