Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionnaire: India’s Pride or Shame??

‘Slumdog Millionnaire’ a great Indian movie indeed by a non-indian director, an NRI playing the lead protagonist and a mostly non Indian backstage crew & technicians. The great film bagged 4 Golden Globe awards and occupied prime media space all over the world, especially in India. Indian media says that its a matter of great pride that an Indian (A R Rahman) has finally bagged the prestigious award and is in lead contention for the Oscars. The same fact also makes me proud, a pride that lasts for 2 seconds and ceases to exist beneath my skin.
Why are we so fascinated by external appreciation and applaud for our work? Why we always look up to outsiders to praise our work? Is this because of our perceived notion that people living on that side of the planet are superior to us? Why we attach so much importance to their opinion about our work? It feels good to be appreciated for one’s work and that goes a long way in propelling one to work harder and smarter and produce better results. But when we have the biggest movie watching junta back in our own courtyard ‘India’ than why we need outside appreciation for our work, appreciation from people who don’t understand our culture, our language. Such appreciation is great for technological innovations but for art...I seriously doubt that.
Although the SLUMDOG occupied breaking news status on news channels and made the front page news in all mainstream newspapers, I was surprised to find equally important news being delegated to small columns in far interior of the papers. The movie is great but why are we celebrating so much the fact that outsiders enjoyed the Indian poverty, the fact that outsiders celebrated the darkness that defines India and especially Mumbai. Why are we celebrating the slums that make up Mumbai, the financial and glamour capital of India, the so called next superpower? “Slumdog Millionaire” is a great movie which makes me feel ashamed, makes me realize the apathetic conditions prevalent not only in the interiors but right in the heart of India ‘Mumbai’. It makes me aware of the huge efforts needed to truly transform India into a global power. Unfortunately the underlying reality of this beautiful movie has got lost under the more glamorous reality ‘the reality that it won some outside award which goes as Golden Globe Awards. All of us the so called educated middle class enjoyed and appreciated the movie but grossly failed to understand the underlying message it conveys.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is Alma-Mater a Modern Age Gentleman’s Only Identity??

Alma mater usually forms an important part of a person’s identity but in recent times it has become one’s only identity. Sure some colleges like Harvard and IITs back in India have produced great leaders more than any other institution but isn’t it the deeds & actions of a person that make him great eventually and not his alma mater?
Ivy League college pass outs refusing or reluctant to work under someone from a lower rank institution is not a new phenomenon. People holding one in high regards or simply dismissing one to be just another chap based on one’s alma mater is nothing new either. But in recent times, such polarization has started to reach alarming levels which is beginning to threaten our social fabric.
Students from Ivy League institutions today hesitate to work with colleagues from institutions not so Ivy as theirs. Students refuse to join companies that also visit lower rung colleges and offer the same profile there. Students pay least attention to speakers who have studied at an institution lower than theirs, no matter how big achiever the speaker is or irrespective of his / her experience.
Why do people from Ivy League institutions mention their alma mater’s name every now and than even 20 yrs after they have passed out? Shouldn’t their achievements be a more important part of their introduction rather than their alma mater? Why successful people from not so big colleges hesitate to mention their alma mater’s name while introducing themselves to an audience.
Are other forms of discrimination not enough, that now we the educated class have brought in this new discrimination? Sure getting into a prestigious institution a big achievement but is that the only piece of identity we are left with. Does being an Ivy League pass out make a criminal not a criminal and a normal institution pass out honest person not so honest? Just because of some reasons a successful person who didn’t pass out from the so-called top college bear the stigma throughout his life?
Sure the alma mater to which an individual belongs is important and plays an important role in shaping one’s personality and success in life, but the same has been stretched way too far. It has resulted in a new form of discrimination / polarization of the world. An individual’s alma mater is being given way too importance when public opinion is formed about the person deviating attention from other equally if not more qualified perspectives.
Alma mater is important and plays an important part in shaping one’s personality and values but It should not become the dominant force shaping public opinion about a person. It should not become a new factor in the polarization of our society.