(Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own. They are not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)
My Indian friends and I joke around a lot about me as the typical white American guy visiting India. Cows! Con men! Colors! Most people I’ve met in India have restricted their reactions to my westerner-in-the-east experiences to gentle teasing. When I stuck a picture of a man urinating in public on my Facebook page, calling it one more picture of what you see everywhere you go in India, people weren’t as patient. What was I doing? Insulting the nation? Focusing on the ugly because it’s what all the westerners do when they visit India? Why does India provoke such visceral reactions in visitors?
Shivraj Singh Chouhan appears to be tying himself into a linguistic knot. The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday said that the English language is a ghost that India must exorcise, according to the Press Trust of India newswire. Even though only a small number of people speak English, these people have managed to show that you need English to be successful in whatever you do, Chouhan said.
Writing anything about India, no matter how picayune I think the topic might be, means that I run the risk of offending someone. Someday I’ll write a book about the unique culture of offense that I’ve found in India, but until then, I’ll write about examples that I see in the news. This weekend’s come from pop musician and poverty activist Bob Geldof as well as a senior government official of the Maldives, and an irreverent drummer from the heart of Punjab.
Here’s some more news that we found in the Indian press over the weekend and would like to share with you. Rather than present stories of great national importance, we would like to highlight some of the items that you are less likely to see in world news reports. Any opinions that the author might express are surely beneath contempt, and are not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters.
Tennis pro Maria Sharapova visited India. Gushing ensued. “The 25-year-old, here to announce her partnership with UK-based real estate company Homestead, sported an infectious smile throughout the interaction even though the lensmen could not get to focus enough of capturing the blonde beauty. ‘Well, it is just the hair and make-up you know. I don’t wake up looking like this,’ quipped Sharapova when a scribe called her pretty. Here only for a day, Sharapova said food and culture was something she would take back from India. ‘I arrived last night and asked the chef what should I try of the Indian food. I had a dosa which tasted really nice. I wanted to have this great Indian experience. There is so much energy in the city, I have been in some quiet areas recently, resting. I really like the culture and people. You all have been really welcoming.’” Final score: love-love. (NDTV)
Here’s a short roundup of regional news in India that attracted our interest this weekend. Any opinions expressed by the author are no doubt ill informed and ridiculous. Aditya Yogi Kalra contributed to this post.
Another politician, another reference to women being the root of all man’s troubles. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh blamed “girlfriends, bikes and mobile phones” for the rising number of road accidents in the state. ”It’s a common sight to see youngsters driving two-wheelers while talking on cellphones which often leads to accidents. Youths should avoid such habits,” Singh said. (PTI via CNBC-TV18)
(Editor’s note: please bear with us as we find a digest that you can digest. Anything that causes indigestion is the result of something that the author said, and is in all likelihood incorrect, specious and wrong)
Here are some stories from the Indian press that caught our attention in recent days. We hope that you find them as interesting as we did.
I discovered when I wrote the blog post, “Hindi, Tamil and English: linguistic lessons in pragmatism,” that I am not the only person who thinks languages in India is an interesting topic. The comments that I received in that post, in which former Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju wrote about the value of learning communal languages such as Hindi and English, reflected opinions from all over the map, and usually centered on how my language is best vs your language is worst.
Katju, chairman of the Press Council of India, made several points in his controversial opinion pieces, but he emphasized that common languages such as English in a country of incredible linguistic diversity is important for people who want to be literate, sophisticated and successful.
Witness the latest public relations trap for a loose-lipped Indian politician, courtesy of the Deccan Chronicle:
BSP MP Rajpal Saini has now launched a tirade against mobile phones and has publicly declared that women and children do not need mobile phones… “Why do housewives and school going girls need mobiles? It encourages them to make futile small talk and get connected with people outside their homes.”
Take a look at the items on the menu at the new Starbucks coffee shops in Mumbai, which opened this week in a joint venture with India’s Tata Global Beverages Ltd. As Megha Bahree and Margherita Stancati show you at The Wall Street Journal’s India blog, they include a series of curious “fusion” items:
Here’s a story that I found in the Times of India today: a man sold his wife to a broker for Rs. 6,000 (about US$114). This was the money that he needed to keep himself in liquor, the Times reported.
The accused, Medula Rajender, 42, of Malyala village in Chandurthi mandal sold his wife Medula Ammayi, 36, to the broker on October 13 to meet his liquor expenses. Daily wager Rajender found it hard to buy liquor and struck a deal with the broker to sell his wife.