Friday, March 31, 2006

News From Home

I am a huge fan of Good News India ever since I discovered it. Their tag line summarizes it all "News from India : of positive action, steely endeavour and quiet triumphs ~ news that is little known" The site reports stories about ordinary Indians who have worked within the flawed and imperfect system, with little more than their unflagging committment to their cause to keep them going.

There is the story of
Lakshmi Thathachar for instance who is using Sanskrit as his tool of resurgence. He believes that "Sanskrit-learning can lead to viable, contemporarily relevant careers." His is one of the many wonderful testaments of hope that touches the lives of the most marginalized in India.

For a decade now, most of the "good" press about India in the western media has been around the hugely successful IT story. Like all high-profile stories, it ends up being a distraction from much else about India that is newsworthy.

That a woman in Nagpur has found a way to recycle all forms of plastic back to fuel has been largely overlooked by the west if a Google search on Alka Zadgaonkar is any indicator. How India Inc. fails to create a buzz around such amazing achievements boggles the mind even as Aishwarya gets airtime on 60 minutes to conclusively prove that she is a giggly airhead.

From being a land of perverted nawabs, snake charmers and hatha yogis we've come to be one of infinite call centers, Bollywood musicals, outsourcing companies and a wannabe Silicon Valley. That we have an Italian kingmaker is an interesting factoid as is the fact that we have a Dharavi and some kids are born into brothels instead of homes. Kurtis, zardozi, bead and mirror work dominate rack space all the way from Wal-Mart to Neiman Marcus as 22 carat gold chandelier earrings adorn the ears of western glitterati.

In all we still reek as much of exotica as we did two hundred years ago and do precious little to change that. Somehow in this lopsided view of India in the west, one sari-clad woman who knows her organic chemistry well enough to turn plastic back to petroleum and can possibly redeem landfills around the world is just not interesting enough for the media.

Possibly she does not fit stereotypes that anyone is comfortable with. Now if an Indian duo were demonstrating the attainment of moksha through the positions prescribed in Kamasutra, that may have been quite another matter.

1 comment:

QbiT said...

I didn't know about Good News India (endless ignorance)...and u get quite a few thanks for it...

The mainstream media is of course looking for stories to not very inclined to blame...they are all "for profit" organizations and we all know Bunty aur Babli attracts more viewers than anything considered thoughtful.

Coming back to the story of Alka, she clearly does not fit the stereotype but more than that her story is just another story of making a difference with honest and sincere efforts...another feel good story but hardly any selling value.

Thanks again for bringing this one to the attention of all those who frequent DC.