I have lost touch with blogging so you must forgive me if I hop from one topic to the other. I am on severe antibiotics and they are entirely responsible if this post doesn't make any sense to you.
Read on, but don't say I did not warn you:
Just finished reading a murder mystery “The Indian Bride” by a Norwegian author Karin Fossum When I picked up the book I was impelled by curiosity “what was an Indian bride doing in Norway ?” and my second thought was “ what the hell is an Indian bride doing in a murder mystery anyway since we Indians normally follow all the rules and keep our noses clean whenever we go abroad?” Who wants to get into trouble with immigration. It is ten years now and I am still figuring out why I got shouted at by the immigration guy at Moscow airport. It isn’t my fault that his English was bad. Anyway that’s a different story.
So back to “The Indian Bride”. So this Norwegian salesman , a bachelor at 51, decides to travel for the first time in his life and find himself a bride. He sees the picture of an Indian woman in a book on the people of the world and on an impulse decides to come to India and find a bride. And this woman gets killed on the day she arrives on Norwegian soil. So why did the girl have to be Indian and not German or East European or anything else? Anyway her only role in the story was to marry him and get killed.is this for the romantic ring of the title? Slowly it occurred to me that the author needed a woman from a very poor country. Somewhere this character could find a woman to marry him within a week. A country where you can find a poor woman to marry a “rich” white man without engaging in prolonged courtship/ dating And the guy talks about how poor the country is whenever he speaks about the country.
so he booked a flight to India. He knew it was a poor country. Perhaps he might find a woman there who could not afford to turn down his offer of following him all the way to Norway.
They make a lot of films in India. Love stories with tough heroes and beautiful women. Not the gritty real-life films we make about ordinary people. They dream a lot, Indian people. They have to. They are so poor.
and so on..
So who is the audience for all the brouhaha about India being the next big thing, an emerging economic superpower and that would be ruling the world in the next 10, 20, 50 years? Certainly not the aam admi of this country who is stifled by rising prices everywhere. Not the 400 million officially poor who are struggling just to stay alive. And definitely not the foreigners. You come out of any international airport in India and the air smells of poverty.
And yet there is talk of India as the emerging super power. And probably there are figures to prove it too. It is all about the plot you choose for your narrative – a continuous economic growth at 7 or 8 % or the UNDP Human development Index. which assesses long-term progress in health, education and income indicators where India ranks 134 among 187 countries Either way one can’t deny the fact that about a fifth of the population is chronically hungry and about half of the world’s hungry live in India. Who are we to make jokes about Africa’s starving children? Again of course if you would like an optimistic view of the country you could always talk about how the country has managed to raise millions out of poverty in the last two decades and talk about the number of televisions and cellphones in the country ( taking care to avoid any mention of availability of toilets or clean drinking water.) And the number of super rich this country has and their numbers on the world’s richest list. Patrick French hits the nail on the head when he says that “it is necessary perhaps to think in a different way, and to see that a country like India, like schrodinger’s cat, exists in at least two forms simultaneously: rich and poor.”
Budget after budget, plan after plan , so many schemes are drawn up for poverty alleviation and most of us who have benefited from the economic growth happily or unhappily pay our taxes and yet we can’t do much to see a change in these poverty and deprivation levels. Corruption even in midday meal schemes for school kids. How can we compete with these politicians and try to make a difference? One man thinks he can make a difference – Muruganandham from a village near Coimbatore in Tamilnadu Unable to continue his education after school, he joined a welding shop. Noticing that the women of his family could not afford sanitary napkins because they were so expensive and hence had to resort to unhygienic use of old cloth during their menstruation, he decided to develop a low cost sanitary napkin. After years of research during which his mother left him in protest and his wife stopped speaking to him, he succeeded in developing a machine that cut the cost of napkins drastically and provides livelihood to a lot of women in remote areas in Orissa, Jharkhand and 23 other states and he has exported the machine and transferred the technology to 6 countries. While introducing women in rural areas to switch to the use of sanitary napkins by making them affordable, he also tries to provide employment opportunities fo women by installing these machines in rural areas and training them to manufacture the napkins. You can hear his story from his mouth here:
(Please do me a favor and don’t laugh about his English. the story is not about his language skills.)
If you are Tamil-speaking you can view the videos here:
I am told that he is invited by many engineering colleges and even management institutes to talk to their students. I am sure that they will learn something that their management books haven’t taught them so far. And his zeal and commitment shows that if you want to make a difference you will find a way to do it despite all odds. What our poor need are more Muruganandhams rather than cunning political parties numbing them with freebies. His experience and achievement could be an inspiration for many young people who are far more privileged than he. As he himself says in his concluding sentence “ that Muruganandham, tenth standard, why not I? …that fellow from Coimbatore, he did, a fellow who never speak a word correctly in English, why not I? “
Why not I indeed?