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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Racist Remark Episode: Why is our English media so....?

Staying away from my normal work location, wanted to avoid commenting on this national obsession of the last week, but, the continued media attention (like the one below, an editorial in the Hindu) and my current work made me to add my comment to the entire issue.

The Hindu : Opinion / Editorials : Of rage, ratings and reality shows: "Surely this is too much fuss over tawdry, tabloid television. The whole idea is to star people desperate for instant fame and quick money and grab eyeballs by every means possible — rudeness, bad taste, shocking conduct."

I am not surprised about the provocation that people have felt across the country on this episode, we need to agree that cinema personalities and cricketers are the most visible Indians and regardless of their career status, if they have been visible and recognized in India, they are recognized as a symbol of India outside.

The media demeans by such discussion ("much fuss", "she was paid anyway", "we are all racists", "hahaha...her career will become better now", "we are more racist", etc.) and hence fails to understand what provokes India or a sense of 'Indian-ness' in most Indians (I would leave out those who sit with these same newspapers every morning and let it dictate their opinion about the world, thankfully they are a minority). We need to understand that there is a strong identity of India still prevalent among most people in India and ordinary people do get provoked when they feel that identity has been abused or insulted.

Maybe the Biharis don't know the difference between the programme title and the person who insulted the Indian, but, them burning effigy was an expression of their anger, why should the media showoff its 'tardiness' by pointing out this? (the same editorial has the line 'angry protesters in Patna burnt effigies of someone called Big Brother') I suppose the newspaper wants to show off how much more English than Bihari it is? If only more Biharis had self-respect and sense they would burn the newspaper next!

Increasingly the ability of India to respond to and in influencing a larger region is visible and gaining in strength, and this is not through expression by editors sitting in their babel towers, but by the ordinary people in the streets. Our politicians respond and make statements because (despite their all other limitations) they are more sensitive to the feeling of the people in the streets.

I think it is a positive sign if so many people across the country have been provoked by an abuse of one Indian from a Westerner. One only wishes that such provocation be felt by bureaucrats when they sit for trade negotiations and media which shamelessly recycles what the western media spoke day before yesterday. They allow India(ns) to be abused more regularly and participate in it too. Wish they were as Indian as the Biharis!

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