Saturday, December 2, 2006

I wonder how our friend the groundnut wallah feels about all this horn tooting

In news of the meta, Times of India today reported on a forthcoming article in the International Herald Tribune that ostensibly is a piece examining the trend of Indian pride in the rising strength of the nation.

It's a bit difficult to judge the content and/or article at this point, but it's certainly something interesting that I've noticed: an incredible hubris on the behalf of (middle- or high-income) Indians about how great they are, based primarily on the fact that growth has nearly hit the magical double-digit mark for several years now.

On the one hand, it's great. Pride is a powerful motivator. But on the other hand, when one is on vacation in Cambodia and runs into another traveling Indian journalist who extemporizes on t he incredible weakness of the southeast Asian nation, it's a bit hard to swallow. For example, as a (somewhat) objective outsider, I didn't see a significant material difference between sewage systems in areas not developed for tourists in both Cambodia and India. I didn't find the Cambodian people "primitive" and "immature," as this man claimed; rather, I found them remarkably flexible for seemingly beginning to reckon with some of the havoc wreaked by the Khmer Rouge.

So it's an interesting reality check. Times of India seems completely ignorant to the fact that the article likely casts something of a skeptical light on their practice of putting a logo -- "Global Indian Takeover" -- on anything related to how awesome the subconty is (i.e., "The report reaffirms the point by taking note of a logo...with every article that indicates India's growing international presence and stature in every walk of life"), but such is the Slimes.

IHT apparently ushers evidence of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh as the only doubters of India's ascendance, noting, "'Gandhi appeared embarrassed by the mood of triumphalism about India's economic transformation, pointing out that while India was "a country of dazzling prosperity," it was also a country of "dehumanizing poverty"'".

Still, it seems that Singh's reservations about "obstacles to these dreams of superpower glory -- the educational system, a failing public health service, and a shortage of vital energy resources" will continue to fall by the wayside, at least in mainstream media. They're too busy tooting their own horns, or ogling Aishwarya Rai's goodies. It's a bit of a shame that a sensitive/balanced analysis of Indian mindsets is confined either to specialist domestic journals or international papers trying to dip their nib in India's swirling pot.

1 comment:

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