The Focus on Children as a Part of India’s Future

A video about India Shining that I posted earlier this week is centered around a young boy. A very insightful comment on the post suggested that children play a great deal in these campaigns because they are the future of India. Therefore, I think that it is interesting that Firaaq ended with the image of the little boy, Mohsin. A major difference between the final scene of the movie and the India Shining video is that Mohsin, a muslim, faces a difficult and uncertain future whereas the child in the India Shining video was depicted as paving the way for success. Perhaps, the close up of Mohsin in Firaaq is intended to represent the struggle that the country of India continues to face. The presence of children, especially young male children, seems to be more than a coincidence. Thoughts?

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English in the Movie Firaaq

I think the decision to have the actors switch between two languages (English and their native tongue) is important to the film. It clearly shows that the characters are highly educated and wealthier than most. However, I am a bit confused as to why the director decided to include English at all since the characters could have been portrayed as upper class through their homes and dress. Here are a few of the reasons that I came up with: the two languages show that these characters are members of two different cultures,  to comment on English presence in India, to suggest that the characters do not want other people to know what they are saying since the majority does not understand English, or a mix of all three. Any thoughts on this?

Is India Shining?

The India Shining campaign as well as the following article, which I originally posted on the postcolonial women writers blog, is getting a lot of great feedback so I thought it would be valuable to share the article here as well. The article, “The BJP’s ‘India Shining’ campaign: myth and reality”, addresses many of the issues that we have discussed surrounding The White Tiger; for example, call centers, economic growth, and reform. I think this article does a great job explaining the motivation behind the campaign as well as pointing out problems with ‘India Shining’.

Here it is:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/may2004/ind-m07.shtml

Let me know what you think!

India Shining Video

I became interested in the India Shining campaign after Dr. Jani introduced it in his 592 class. Now, after finishing The White Tiger, I am even more interested in it. The campaign shows images of India’s success to show how far the country has advanced. What I find fascinating is how much the ads do not show. The ads focus on the very rich and ignore the middle class and poor while The White Tiger paints a very different image of India. I did a little research in attempt to integrate the two. For the most part I was unsuccessful. However, I stumbled across this video:

The video begins with an almost ugly portrayal of India. The city in which the video is shot is crowded and dirty. The video goes on to show that with a unified community true change is possible. I like this video so much because it does not attempt to hide the issues that India faces while remaining hopeful for the future (of course the cute little boy who plays the hero doesn’t hurt either). I will admit the clip is a bit unrealistic, but it is definitely better than some of the other pictures/videos that I have seen.

The Frustrating Character of Pinky Madam

I am intrigued by The White Tiger’s Pinky Madam. Perhaps, because I still can’t seem to understand her. In my opinion she exemplifies the complexity of the novel; specifically in the follow line: “(Who would have thought, Mr. Jiabao, that of this whole family, the lady with the short skirt would be the one with a conscience)” (Adiga 153). This sentence baffles me for a multitude of reasons. First is its form. Although it is important in describing Pinky Madam as well as to the themes of the overall novel, it is written in parenthesis (I can’t help but think about Roy and The God of Small Things every time I read that paragraph), thus suggesting that it an after-thought or a piece of information that the narrator does not consider to be overly important. Secondly, is the relationship between the woman’s short skirt and her conscience. This introduces the reader to the issues that surround the character of Pinky Madam. Balram has trouble respecting her because of her indecent attire, but is impressed by her moral compass, which is something so many of the other characters lack. Pinky Madam, as she is described by Balram is a collection of opposing characteristics. The biggest problem that I have with Pinky Madam is when she decides to listen to her conscience. She immediately divorces Ashok and leaves India after the hit and run. However, this is not the first time that her family participates in something immoral. She is married to a man who is involved in a corrupting business and politics. I have a hard time believing that Pinky Madam, an educated woman, would be completely ignorant of her husband’s wrong doings. Thus it irks me that she allows her husband to exploit Indians for months before showing us her conscience. It seems to me that she does not actually care for the people, but rather only considers her own image of herself. It makes sense then that she flees India not because she killed someone, but because she is a murderer. I spent the majority of the novel trying to like Pinky Madam – I was looking for at least one likeable character! Ultimately, I cannot like her. In fact, I find her to be one of the most the most frustrating and disagreeable characters in The White Tiger.

America’s Rooster Coop

Professor Jani’s question, does America have a rooster coop like the one discussed in The White Tiger, fascinates me. Of course everyone would like to answer with an emphatic “no”, but unfortunately this is not the case. I think that the idea of the rooster coop lies at the base of our society, specifically in the institution of education. Children are placed in the cage as a result of the school district in which they live. Most children attending urban and rural public schools do not have access to the same materials that those attending private schools or public schools in the suburbs have. As a result, children are placed in the coop before they have the chance to realize what is happening. The children that attend schools that lack resources and teachers are often not given the motivation, support or preparation that they need in order to attend college. Furthermore, urban and rural communities do not often place a high importance on education as most children do not have parents that attended college and many more do not have parents that can afford to send their children to college. Meanwhile, students at private schools and the public schools located in the wealthier suburbs are given access to technology and textbooks, have teachers that are focused on teaching rather than inner-city violence, and supportive communities. Even on the collegiate level, wealthy students and poor students have very different experiences. Wealthy students have the choice of attending the university of their choice – some of them ivy league. The poorer students may be capable of attending a competitive university, but can only afford to go to the local community college. Thus, it seems that children are trapped by the education that their parents can (or cannot afford). For this reason, I am impressed by India’s decision to make public universities free in attempt to give opportunity to all people and loosen the restraints of the class system. I am sure that the system has its flaws (what large-scale institution doesn’t), but believe that it is definitely a step in the right direction in dissembling the rooster coop!

More (of the Same) Representations of India

While shopping yesterday, one of my friends showed me a book that she described as hilarous. The book is a collection of sarcastic thank yous and is designed to poke fun at people/things/places that don’t always make sense. I will admit, most of them were pretty funny…until I stumbled accross this one:

In case you can’t read the text, it says: “Thank you…customer service guy in India who calls himself ‘Todd,’ thinking that will trick me into thinking he is actually in Omaha and not New Delhi. Nice try, ‘Todd.’ Hee hee…Yes, I’ll hold.”

I was really surprised to see this in the book. I never realized what a “joke” Indian call centers are to Americans. Part of the reason why I am so offended is because of the connection that the thank you has to The White Tiger. In the book the narrator says that his day really starts at 3 a.m. because all of his employees go home since that marks the end of the work day in the U.S. and he has to stay in the office to make sure there are no emergency calls. I cannot imagine working such difficult hours! I think that those working in the call centers deserve a lot more respect than they are given. They make many sacrifices in order to make American lives easier. I believe that Americans take many things for granted, especially how many people all over the world work to produce goods for the U.S and provide services to our country. Furthermore, I think that Americans need to consider the bigger picture – why is a man in India answering the call instead of a man in Omaha? What does this mean to Americans, businesses, Indians, and everyone else involved? Any thoughts on why customer service call centers in India are so funny to Americans?