The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. — St. Augustine
With eleven days to go until take-off to Delhi, I’ve been trying to keep up with India’s current happenings. Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across…
I read an article in the Times of India that led me to learn about the falling female-male ratio in northern parts of the country, like Punjab and Haryana. This has been an issue for quite some time, and families have dealt with it by practicing “atta satta,” a type of barter system where families will marry off their daughters in exchange for a new daughter-in-law. Some of these girls might still be very young when they’re shipped off to significantly older men. This article brings to light some serious violations of human rights; the young woman was strangled to death because she didn’t meet the demands of her parents.
Al Jazeera is another great source for Indian news, as well as other countries in the East. The video packages are extremely well-done and informative, and cover stories that vary from individual efforts to fight the hunger epidemic, to an unexpected market- hair. Al Jazeera is one of those news sources that inspires out-of-the-box story ideas. I know doing a package on the poverty-stricken slums of Delhi would be powerful and moving, but how about a story that makes people think about India in a different way? What do people do for fun? What kind of games do children play? How is new technology changing how the people of India live and work?
I like to get most of my world news from the New York Times, and it’s as easy as typing “India” in the search bar to get to articles like this one, which is about India’s health minister calling homosexuality a “disease” that is “completely unnatural and shouldn’t happen.” Obviously, this led to plenty of outrage. It makes me wonder about the severity of gay prejudice in India if the health minister, of all people, calls homosexuality a disease. As I come across more and more articles, issues involving human rights seem to be trending.
Ever since Jessica Mayberry came and talked to our India-bound group, I’ve been checking back to the Video Volunteers Web site, where community correspondents post videos about issues or topics in their own villages. Pretty cool stuff. This video was particularly exciting to me, because it proves that the mission of Video Volunteers is really making a difference. Ever since the government was made aware of the lack of schools in this particular area, new schools have been built.
Guha’s rich history of India leaves little, if anything, out. From Independence Day to a contemporary, booming India, with all the struggles and political nightmares in between, “India After Gandhi” has managed to expand my fascination with the country.
What is striking to me is how India started as a nation seemingly made up of minorities, and still continues to hold on to its diversity throughout its growth. The clashes between all the different religions, languages and social situations would make one think that there’s no way such a country could hold it together. But somehow co-existence prevails, although not without problems.
On this India trip, I’m most interested in looking at how certain minorities are faring today, particularly the untouchables, who Guha said were “poor, stigmatized, and often at the receiving end of upper-caste violence,” like the Muslims. Even in the mid-1900s, however, these oppressed people began to fight back. “No longer would they carry loads free, or submissively allow upper-caste males to violate their women” (p. 377). This gives me hope, but where are these people now? Do some traditional villages still practice untouchability to the extent that it was practiced in these times? This is one of my story ideas for the trip.
Another thing I’d like to look into that was mentioned in Guha’s history is the alarming gap between the rich upper class and the impoverished lower classes. While some business entrepreneurs are enjoying their million-dollar lofts, some poor villages are struggling to find enough water to survive. I thought it was shocking that “sixty years after independence, only 40% of cultivated areas was under irrigation” (p. 692). I watched a video on “IndiaUnheard” about this issue, which obviously continues to be a problem for many villages today. (As soon as I find the video I watched, I’ll be sure to post it.) Check out this article about underground water levels in India: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Water-crisis-Hazare-village-shows-way/Article1-709780.aspx
Although I had to push a little to get through some dense parts in Guha’s book, it really helped me make some connections between India’s past problems and how they are reappearing today. I now have several story ideas to add to my already lengthy list.
Is it July 16th yet?