Not everything is as it seems: India in the eyes of the world

If you‘ve seen Slumdog Millionaire or Coldplay’s new music video, or ever read an article on Bloomberg, then you are probably aware of Western Media’s proclivity for showing India in a certain light.

What in the world does an elephant roaming the streets have to do with a financial crisis?

You’re enraged? Furious? Take a deep breath. Calm down. Now, let’s look at it objectively.

If half of India is truly as it is depicted in foreign media — slums, old movie theaters, shabby buildings..the list goes on— then, why do we feel so wronged? Indian media does the same thing, albeit in the opposite manner, they only showcase the best the West has to offer.

Indeed, almost half of all Indians do live in rural villages and slums. Close to 600 million people do not have access to a toilet. 250 million people have access to some form of basic health care, only 25% of the population. Only 30 million people pay income tax, just 2.77%.

This is India.
Yet, this is also India.

Just because the India you know isn’t the India that shows up on the news, should not be cause for anger or a feeling of being wronged. There is a whole other side to India that you — sitting in your air-conditioned room, with high speed internet, nearly 24/7 power supply and enough food to stuff yourself silly — are not aware of. Get up, take a good look outside.

This sort of visual bias exists everywhere. Just because you don’t see something does not mean it doesn’t exist. Conversely, just because you see one thing doesn’t mean that is all there is.

Perhaps we urban Indians — who are enabled thanks to the Internet and social media and cursed with a voracious attitude towards defending our motherland — are too proud to accept the fact that economic inequality in India is one of the worst in the world, that there are parts of India where people do not have access to a toilet — or even running water. You may be playing video games on your brand new PS4 with your 50" TV but there are also children sitting beneath a street lamp trying to study because their parents can barely afford 3 square meals a day, let alone luxuries like a game console.

Similarly, this is the US.
This is the US, as well. Shocked?

Let’s embrace how the rest of the world chooses to depict India and take it in our stride. We should all take it as a challenge to better ourselves, our country and one day maybe there will be no more slums, everyone will go to bed with a full stomach and and there will be nothing but an overabundance of beautiful photos to take of India and her people.

Jai Hind!

Due credit to a close friend, Kirthana, for not only having the patience to deal with my rants but also for insightful counter-arguments that help me see the error of my ways (or rather, thoughts).