Monday, July 22, 2013

The Indian In Imagination

If I were to draw blindfolded an image of an Indian from what I hear from what people have heard or seen about India and its people from outside its borders, perhaps I would be drawing a dark, skinny and dusty person with a grim face and a turban wrapped several times around the head, amidst dark, gloomy clouds of lust and violence, corruption and scams, pollution and population hovering in the backdrop. Much of this imaginary imagery has been seeded long before and has been systematically imprinted in the minds; and we, from within the borders, have relentlessly watered and nurtured this image to keep it intact. Yet, it is only an illusion and the deeds and characteristics of a minority present (as in any other country) and presented cannot be generalized and held true and applicable to the majority.

A few decades back, this is how we too played a part in painting the whole of Africa as a country with sick, poor, bony, dusty, dark children; that we expect every child of Africa to fit into the very same picture of our imagination. To a certain extent we have achieved in seeding this thought into our minds that so stubbornly refuses to go; so much so that we cannot stop seeing Africa and its citizens without sympathy; even if they don't ask for it.  

How is this image drawn so conveniently? 
Who frames these images? 
What benefit is derived by giving and taking up such an identity?

There are perhaps reasons for allowing this unclean and skewed image to be maintained to arrive at a win-win situation for both the perceiver and the perceived in many ways.

India has always been seen as a field full of harvest. As we try to think that gone are those days, when they reached our shores to mine us off our riches and sell it in their coasts, it is equally pertinent to watch carefully that today those we believed to be gone, are back in our shores and this time, to mine us off our poverty and sell it in their coasts. Their first stop often as they reach our land is to reach slums, pavements and areas of underdevelopment, poverty and hunger-their choicest destinations (often with good connectivity through air), where they pull out their point and shoot cameras, to do exactly what it is meant to do-point and shoot megapixel after megapixel of great whites amidst the poor, vulnerable and unprotected lot in an impoverished nation that will soon get uploaded, downloaded and hoisted in racks and presented in slides during fund raising campaigns amongst mesmerized audiences who can’t stop but give in to their compassionate side on seeing the marginalized blown up to unimaginable proportions to fit into their own imagination of a community of victims, they provide with deep-seated hope that this situation might change and render themselves as agents of such a change. Thus emerges a breeding ground for forced-need-based communities and strategic-greed-based organizations and the marriage of these two groups have become complementary for each others survival.

Over six decades of freedom later and after millions of dollars raised outside our borders in promised lands by compassionate people and those living off that money raised in the name of the poor, with a stage set for provider-receiver drama to happen with lakhs of organizations to act as actors, traitors and betrayers (from within and out) breeding with their eyes on the share of the morsel than anything else-with many who come by day and fly by night, nothing much has changed; we are still burdened. The only thing gained is that we have been able to maintain this image of an always poor and needy still “developing” nation... and with this attitude of ours to supply to the demand of other nations with our poverty, we will always be this way and will remain and be kept this way for a very long long time to come and our image too, just like that of Africa, will be a story of never ending poverty and sorry endings and we shall soon be dressed in rags in the imagination of the world. Keep contributing. Jai Hind!

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