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Is India only about Poverty / Slums / Chaos / Software Engineers / Luxurious Holidays for the West, or do we need a new perspective?

I am always disturbed by the way India is portrayed to the global audience. When I watch a TV show on India, either I get to see the show host experiencing the lavish palaces of the Maharajas in Udaipur or Jodhpur or they would be venturing into the dingy slums or Dhobi Ghaats showcasing what sells best - Poverty. Does anybody ever try and showcase the way India has grown in the past ten or so years? The way Indian middle class which could never even dream of going overseas, their kids making a foray into the International arena with much ease! Yes of course globalization has made that easy, but does anybody acknowledge that enough? Does the Indian herself / himself take pride in being a part of this country? I think India and the world needs a different perspective now. It is no more a land of the Maharajas nor is there a reason to celebrate the poverty. We are growing, and at an amazingly fast pace. But while doing so, we must never forget our roots and never let anybody showcase us in whatever way they see us. High time!

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    Mar 30 2013: G'day Avanti

    You didn't mention the spiritual aspect of India, I see India as one of the biggest spiritual centre's in the world as this is the grass roots of India.

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    Mar 29 2013: I think the stereotype is changing. I think India is reckoned with respect and awe by most of the cultures in the world these days.
    When the first independent prime minister of India, pacifist Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), was featured in Vogue, his distinctive close fitting, single-breasted jacket briefly became an important fashion statement for the Mod movement in the West. Named the Nehru jacket, the prime minister’s coat was popularized by the Beatles and worn by such famous people as Johnny Carson (1925-2005) and Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990).
    I think everybody also knows that India is world's largest English speaking country.
    By the way, I take pride belonging to Indian culture not about a contrived idea of a nation drawn on map by administrators and politicians.
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        Mar 30 2013: I am extremely sorry for my mistake. The figures have fallen down. It is the 2nd largest English speaking country in the world.

        Dear Kate I do not associate any pride with my or my fellow people's ability with the English language. India is such a vast country that you may not get the perspective living in a place for a limited time. I am well versed with at least 4 Indian languages and a 100 rupee currency note has 15 languages on it!!

        English remained Indian official language and the most spoken and used 2nd language traditionally. It kept a neutral culture free communication between Indians speaking as many as 122 scheduled and non-scheduled languages. There is a wisdom in adopting English as an Indian language, I guess.

        "The official language of the Republic of India is Hindi with English as an additional language for official work; states in India can legislate their own official languages. Along with languages of Indian origin other than Hindi, English, French and Portuguese also enjoy the official language status in some Indian states and Union territories. Neither the Constitution of India, nor any Indian law defines any national language."

        I come from a part of India where people died to uphold their right to speak and use their mother tongue, Bangla, I think that will give you an idea about where pride is placed.

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        Mar 30 2013: Well, I shall warm you up with a nice surprise :) If it is strange for someone to adopt a language with which she is not born with, how will you react to someone who fares so well in Hindi, being born in a different culture and language?
        I introduce Natalie Di Luccio to you. :)

        Please check the second one, I think you will love it.
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        Mar 30 2013: Regarding quality and fluency of spoken English, I shall agree with you. It's after all an adopted language. And that you didn't come across many fluent speakers of English while your stays and travels in India is because on average lesser number of Indians speak English. You will notice that in the list I gave you Pakistan scores 49 compared to 12 something of India.
        Secondly, if I am not very wrong you traveled mostly North-North West India where English speaking is even less popular. I am sure you would have a completely different experience, had you traveled the southern and eastern states. In Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh even villagers or rural folk speak rather fluent English.
        Mastery of speech is not entirely a language function, I think. If one agrees to relax the elitist view of English language, Indian's average skill of speaking the language is attested by the fact that it is the world's back-office of IT based customer care service today.
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    Mar 31 2013: As an NRI, someone who left India in the early 80's I must admit my image of middle class India is still stuck in that era. I have no grudges nor do I see myself as "a better than thou!" I have experienced the so called "growth" in India, and have admired the new material wealth. However, when I see well educated Indians yelling at their servants as if the servant is less than human, when I see Indians on train throwing waste matter on the floor or outside, when I see Indians wanting to put themselves ahead of the line in every queue, when I see Indians accepting and giving bribes with sense of resignation, when I see Indians placing the material wealth above the human dignity, social contracts, concern of environment, I feel that the global image of India is fairly accurate probabilistic representation of how India is. I feel as saddened by this as well as the tone of your debate topic suggests. Let the REST of the world, show whatever they want to show, they are representing what they experience, I do not think there is any malevolent intent in the image projected by the the world - but it is representation of how India is perceived - whether you like it or not.
    Instead of blaming the "image," why not BE what you really want to be? It is high time to ignore the image, and start caring about how humanity in India is cared for, how the environment is cared for, how innovation is managed so that it creates positive societal impact. Nandan Nilekani's talk makes it amply clear the technologist's view of India from within. There are several articles from the West; one of this week's article in the Economist cover-page provides a very interesting perspective - here is the link . See for yourself including front page cartoon, be introspective & stop blaming the messenger.
    Lastly - taking pride in the portrayed "image" is a waste of time, taking pride in actual accomplishments is probably useful in furthering the real growth in India.
  • Mar 29 2013: Really? I did not know these facts myself. Thanks for enlightening me. Yes, India surely has made a strong mark in the world map, but poverty / hunger / dirt / and these days security still continues to be a trademark of this nation in the minds of most people of the world when they think of India.
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      Mar 30 2013: The problems you are mentioning are more or less prevalent in all countries except few very rich ones like say Luxemburg where the natural capital is too high averaged over citizens. The per capita indices, I believe, re truer markers because the GDP for a huge country will not tell you about the average conditions of citizens.
      Considering the huge population that India moves forward with, it is not faring too bad. Not brilliant but neither deplorable. It's economy, being conservative, withstood the recession rather well.
      Are you aware of MNREGA or UIDAI projects in India? To pull along such projects with so vast population is mind blowing by any standard. India has 500 million more voters that that of the USA.
      The good news is that the average age of Indian citizens is 26, one of the lowest in the world. This means in coming 30 or so years India will have the largest population in the world in their active and productive age. That's a big head start.

      I'd request you to notice one thing Avanti. By replying to you I started what is called a 'thread' in the discussion. If you choose to continue it, you should click the little red 'reply' link over my comment. I shall get an email notification from TED that you replied and we can go on.

      Welcome and enjoy your stay.
  • Mar 29 2013: We do not need western approval, but West should know us well enough before forming an opinion on us. That's the whole point.
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    Mar 28 2013: I feel I don't know that well what India is like because it has so many people and ways of life.
  • Mar 28 2013: You know what India is about, and I really don't Things tend to get stereotyped as do countries.
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    Mar 27 2013: I was totally blown away by the quality of debate on BBC Radio 4's programme the Public Philosopher. The programme sought to answer the questions:

    Is rape a worse crime than other forms of violent assault? Should verbal sexual harassment be banned?

    These are two questions put by Harvard's Michael Sandel - BBC Radio 4's 'Public Philosopher' - who takes the programme to an audience at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The discussion follows the brutal rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi at the end of last year, a crime that provoked a national outcry in India.

    The quality of debate and energy in the audience was inspiring. You can pick up the programme if you follow this link