Monday, March 23, 2009


----- Original Message -----
From: Ramesh Chitnis
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 4:57 AM
Subject: [prohindu] Shame on you Sonia Aunty

Shame on you Sonia Aunty (Indian Express, 22nd March 2009)
Tavleen Singh
Posted: Mar 22, 2009 at 0236 hrs IST
They dressed up our two most famous Slumdog children in their Oscar clothes to go to Delhi last week to see the Queen. Little Azharuddin Mohammed wore his American tuxedo and Rubina Ali a black gown for their meeting with the Rajmata of India. While they waited in the sun outside 10 Janpath they entertained the media circus that trailed them by singing ‘Jai Ho’ and telling them what they would talk to ‘Sonia Aunty’ and ‘Rahul Uncle’ about. It was a sickening celebration of something that must never be celebrated—India’s grinding, hopeless, shameful poverty.
Its ugliest face has been on display in The New York Times this past week in the form of a slide show of starving Indian babies who look as if they have been through famine, war and pestilence. In fact they are just products of normal peacetime ‘shining’ India. The story that accompanies the pictures reminds us that two-thirds of India’s children are malnourished by the age of two, that 8 million are visibly starving and 60 million more manifest malnourishment in their inability to grow normally. My only objection to Slumdog Millionaire is that it depicts poverty as something that can be joyously overcome. It cannot and living with it is about the most horrible thing in the world. The children who acted in the film have returned to their hovels in Mumbai and admit that they can no longer deal with the horror of being real life slumdogs.
India’s real life billionaires love to boast in the forums of the world about India being a ‘young country’. Half of India’s population is younger than 25, they like to say, so there is no question that the 21st century will be India’s century because in an ageing world we can provide the human capital to keep the wheels turning. Really? With half of India’s children suffering from various degrees of malnourishment is this possible? Malnourishment does not just stunt the body, it stunts the brain. How many mentally stunted children do we know who grow up to become employable adults?
What makes India’s poverty such a disgraceful, dark thing is that it would not exist if the poor had not been the Congress Party’s most reliable vote bank. Indira Gandhi used this vote bank to its fullest in the ‘Gharibi Hatao’ election with that most famous of her campaign slogans. ‘Woh kehtey hain Indira hatao, main kehti hoon gharibi hatao’. The poor remained poor after she won and the vote bank remained intact until copycat Congress leaders like Mulayam Singh and Laloo Yadav lured the Muslims away and Mayawati took away the Dalits. More than 90 percent of the poor in India are either low of caste or Muslim.


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