Friday, November 4, 2011

Incredible "India"


I would like to comment on the curious case of one-sided ness of "Indian" culture. India being a large country does not always represent all regions or culture and can marginalize some people. Of late, this has become more and more pronounced and let's see how...

Incredible India - Is It Representative Of All Indians ?

Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture. If we observe the popular trend both in India and overseas, Indian Food means "Punjabi/Tandoor" Food. How many of us have noticed any dishes that originate from North East or Western parts of India in a "Standard" Indian restaurant outside India ? All the South Indian Weddings have exclusive  "North Indian/Punjabi" Dishes - but is it reciprocated? There might be a day when the various delicacies of other parts of India just don't get to be part of any menu anywhere even in India - marginalization evident pretty much strongly in this area.

Tandoor Food - Is this alone "Indian" ?

In the "Roti-Kapada-Makaan" trilogy, I pick the next one. The dressing styles of India have evolved over time and I would like to focus my attention on the conservative attire of most Indian women today - Salwar Kameez. The popular name for Salwar Kameez down South used to be "Punjabi Dress" - now it has become a de facto standard. It's universal appeal across the country made the state of Punjab a trend setter and the regional specific choices of dressing are probably going to be out of window very soon. Even for men, the "traditional" wear has come to mean Kurta Pyjama which can trace it's roots from the same Northern state !
Salwar Kameez - Un-Official "Indian" Women's Wear

The biggest import from India to the World that has registered tremendous growth in the last decade and a half has been Bollywood Cinema. With the number of Indians settling outside India growing each year, Bollywood cinema becomes their connection to India. With the popular Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge that had a plot centered around a Uber Rich Punjabi family, the Bollywood cinema changed forever. More and more movies with Punjabi families as background and a heavy dose of Punjabi songs started to become a regular trend in "Indian" Movies.No effort was made to be inclusive in terms of including all the regions in the plot - the latest case of Ra One trying to create a caricature of a typical South Indian. The focus that was on Bengali and Malayalam movies that had a strong content along with excellent technical values has now moved to the popular sector that have heavy budgets with the focus on specific areas of the country.

DDLJ - A Trendsetter - Movies for Not All Indians !!!

Television Game shows

Though this might not be a real yardstick, but I would like to mention that the "National" shows hardly ever think that they need to be representative. For example, KBC which is hugely popular in it's season 5 featured only ONE participant from Southern India and NO one from North East. The participants are no longer selected through random picks like before but a carefully "auditioned" process with an eye on TRPs makes it a clear choice that Rural North/West make a better "story" for public consumption. The same is the case with any other game shows on other channels and there are cases of marginalization.

Can any one from India really sit on the "Hot Seat" ?

Our National Anthem calls everything South as "Dravida" and stops there while it mentions most of the other "popular regions". It has been 64 years that we attained independence from the British and out of all these years, there was only a tenure of 5 years for PV Narsimha Rao and ( very briefly Deva Gowda ) who were from the South. All the other prime ministers have been from either UP or Punjab and all the Congress leaders are either part of the "dynasty" or following their "orders". PV who showed tremendous vision and courage to liberate Indian Economy is often forgotten and does not have a memorial in Delhi tells us a sad story in itself.
Tells us a story...isn't it ?
While my intention is not to portray any one as a bully, I would like to mention that we can do a lot better in terms of inclusiveness. The media covers heavily items that suit their interest and makes them a case of National Agenda - Anna Hazare's fast for a few days receiving more coverage than Irom Sharmila from Manipur who has been on a  "fast" for years now ! We need to make every effort to include all sections of the community instead of focusing and promoting a certain segment as "Indian" culture. Let's not forget the Real Diversity that truly is Regional and still remain the Integrated to the Larger Indian Notion and contribute in every way possible to the country's progress.
One India For All Of Us !!!
Jai Hind !!!

- Pavan

1 comment:

  1. I normally would agree with pavan like i did on many of his earlier thoughts through his BlogSpot. But here i would certainly like to differ a bit. First on food, although we could see food influence from north in havening complete chanrge over lunch & dinner, one should not forget that breakfast & snacks are dishes from southern India. I have had pretty good idlis & dosas in gujrat and himachal as well :-). One more stuff worth mentioning here is the cofee..i mean Filter coffee is from very south available across india.
    On dressing front although salwar kameez has become punjabi dress lets not forget the sarees which is flavour of south & is popular across globe, probably more than punjabi dress.
    Cinema & bollywood, although the medium is hindi but stories from films like Roja & Bombay still are favourties for the the themes were pretty much from south.
    I think the diversity or the goodness in every aspect across regions doesnt need anyones advertisement, it will travel miles irrespective of hurdles, if good!!!