April 26, 2010


I'll say this, the use of the word "slumdog" itself does not bother me much. Since THAT film, it's really become just another term.

What annoys me, though, is the tone in the passages where the word is used, and the implications of those passages. Slumdogs, we learn, are "wallowing in illiteracy, poverty and ignorance".

"Wallowing"? Has the author of these words been to a slum? If s/he goes expecting to stumble on such wallowers, I suspect s/he will come home rather surprised. Yes, there's poverty in our slums (though often matched with intense enterprise), but there are plenty of literate folks who are by no means ignorant.

It's the assumption that slums are filled with these wallowers that gets me.

And it's the implicit acknowledgement in the words: that despite our billionaires and the world's 4.673-highest valued sports league and millions of cars, this is a country where too many people live hardscrabble lives. It's not an admission easily made these days, but it emerges unwittingly in words like these. Assumptions like these.

I refer, all through, to this report.


Pub Chick said...

"It's not an admission easily made these days, but it emerges unwittingly in words like these."

Can you also explain where this "admission" is not easily made and why one needs to "admit" anything on behalf of a nation-state? I must say your use of 'admission' is as offensive as 'wallowing.' At least, the person who used wallowing can say he was honest about his contempt for such people. I wonder what you have to say.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Nation-state? Where did that come from? Was that report written by someone on behalf of a nation-state?

The rest, think what you like. It's all you get from me.

Pub Chick said...

Nation-state was used for the lack of a better term. Feel free to replace that with society or whatever else that you fancy.

wise donkey said...

perhaps the person who wrote the report was "semi-literate" and ignorant on the meaning of wallow..perhaps the literacy and ignorance was affected by the poor eyesight, which seem to be the non-slum dweller.

rather than just the words, "the poverty is not a priority problem" attitude, is more offensive (to me).

PS : how can going to school on time affect eyesight, and whats the relevance of the line "eat whatever their mothers give them coated with mother's affection and love". isn't it patronising? the non-slum moms don't give food with love? love and affection are important,but so is nutrition. in these days of inflation, to say the presence of one is sufficient, is unfair. even if their eyesight has not been affected, it doesn't mean they are fully nourished.

Dilip D'Souza said...

WiseD: the whole report is peculiar and offensive. Yes, what is that stuff about mother's affection? Besides, what's the meaning of this line: "only 3.27 per cent of those living in slums against 8-10 per cent of those coming from the urban areas" -- are slums not urban areas?

And what is the point of this focus on refractory errors?

All in all, baffling.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for flaying this article Dilip. I always wonder at the amount of trash that gets published as educated opinion.
This one reminds me of a book of essays I read during my school years that even at my age then, struck me as having been written by an opinionated bigot.

wise donkey said...

was there any follow up action? perhaps the report was written thinking no one would read..