[Reader-list] P. Sainath :Where India shining meets greatdepression (The Hindu)

sayantoni datta sayantoni at gmail.com
Thu Apr 6 13:46:45 IST 2006

I remember a relative of mine visiting us from the States commenting that in
India there is a sense of "pride" with the "poor". "People here", he said
"are  proud to be poor" or "there is nothing really wrong with being poor."
Is this sense of self confidence changing?

These advertisements seem as if "you are not allowed to be poor or revel in
it, poverty(in comparison) is not a celebration it's a joke, we need to
"CLIMB", and look different, if we have to, and change our lifestyles!!!

But wait a minute the world's winning solutions are not for you, in a market
driven world some "consume"/"access" others "don't have access" forget
"consumption", it might just "trickle down to you" if you are lucky or else
just "move aside", you don't fit our agenda.

What struck me most in the ad, was the word "tan". Is it an artificial tan
we are manufacturing with "*creams*", a natural tan because of days of
"work/hard labour" in the sun(not all suns...a branded sun) without *
sunscreens,* or JUST "my complexion"!!!!

The ad juxtaposes two polarised images ....I think it taps on the "initial
discomfort" of breaking stereotypes with  the women dialoguing on "designer
tans" and "monte carlo".Its confusing because in the picture "the image of
the poor" stands contested with the "concerns of the poor"(the bubbles)!!!!

The text below highlights a "misplaced sense of pride".....

Thanks for the article and the debate....


On 05/04/06, Jeebesh Bagchi <jeebesh at sarai.net> wrote:
> dear Shivam, Ravi and Lawrence,
> My desire for responses beyond the initial repulsion was from a
> position of confusion. These images definitely gesture towards a
> shift in ways of perceiving the world. And i am not sure what this is
> shift about.
> On the one hand the realities of increasing brutalities. Rising
> counts of suicides, dislocations, and evictions. On the other, these
> images. I would think that slowly a new way of 'being' in highly in-
> equal social realities and arrangements is taking shape. A new
> psychological profile is emerging. Also, we are witnessing a
> dismantling of some earlier held assumptions.
> I am trying to think what is getting dismantled and being replaced by
> what.
> Dislocation and violence have always accompanied great dreams of
> wealth and domination. Europe in 18th and 19th Century is a good
> example of this. Thousands banished from within it's land to Americas
> and Australia. Thousands dislocated from other parts of the world to
> fulfill the search for labour, land and materials. The "Engine of
> Progress" record has been fairly bloody. In the 20th Century the
> record of this progress-travel has been more bizarre and bloody.
> I would think that we grew up with a psychological profile that
> somehow gave space to these `dislocations` and through various ways
> admitted it as a violence that cannot be wished away. We co-inhabited
> the spaces of violence in our cities. From the popular cinema to
> documentary filmmakers - all found ways of talking about it. That
> mode of talking i would think reached a aesthetic and conceptual dead-
> end by early nineties. Rarely could accounts move beyond the `heroic-
> resisting` subject or `victimised/traumatised` human objects. This
> binary did give rise to an image fatigue of the `poor` in the nineties.
> Also, the nineties saw the stress on what Partha Chaterjee calls the
> `the political society`. The modes by which people found a way to
> make claims using the forms of `electoral mobilisations` and `welfare
> administration`. The emergence of the courts as the central actor in
> today's `evictions/ dislocations` is in a very definitive way a
> dismantling of these negotiations.
> The forms that we have at present - the courts' discourse and the
> image making sensibility of a new triumphal elite - open up for us
> new questions about how to think this conjunction. What sensibility
> is being demanded of us to navigate the contemporary? I am trying to
> understand this from all your comments. What intrigues me is the
> `speech acts` given to the `poor`. These kind of images have existed
> in many ads by industry (and also in welfare ads). But, the speech
> act of this one is something new.
> And our poor Raghu too existed in similar way in many ads. However he
> was never branded a `pick pocket`. Well the ground was laid down
> about 5 years ago by an esteemed judge in the Supreme court. He
> uttered in his judgement - " Giving land to squatters is like giving
> money back to the pickpocket". That sensibility has taken deep roots
> and circulatory force.
> I wonder, what will this harsh time-travel of capital (progress/
> development/ triumphal chest beating in nationalist competitions) do
> to millions who will not have Americas to go to. Both cities and
> countryside are becoming a huge ejection machines, as was always
> under the sign of progress.
> How will we be able to make sense of this world? Authoritarian
> solutions of many kind will gain ground, so will deep solipsism.
> Well in short, i am as confused as you guys are.
> warmly
> jeebesh
> On 05-Apr-06, at 6:35 PM, Shivam wrote:
> >
> > I am not sure if I am able to answer Jeebesh's question fully. Why
> > don't you tell us what you think?
> >
> > S.
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