Tag Archives: slumdog millionaire

Religion, Marxism and Slumdog

François Gautier
Source: Express buzz

First Published : 16 Mar 2009 02:09:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 16 Mar 2009 09:35:52 AM IST

WHY did a film like Slumdog Millionaire, which conveys an utterly negative image of India — slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti Muslim pogroms — create so many waves in the West, pre and post Oscars? And why does not the Indian government protest, as the Chinese would indeed have, for a twisted and perverted portrayal of its own reality? There are several answers: When the missionaries began to evangelise India, they quickly realised that Hinduism was not only practised by a huge majority, but that it was so deeply rooted that it stood as the only barrier to their subjugating the entire subcontinent.

They therefore decided to demonise the religion, by multiplying what they perceived as its faults, by one hundred: caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, widows, sati … Today, these exaggerations, which at best are based on quarter-truths, have come down to us and have been embedded not only in the minds of many Westerners, but also unfortunately, of much of India’s intelligentsia.

We Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex over the socalled Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of our television sets during prime time news, with a hefty steak on our table, we love to feel sorry for the misery of others, it secretly flatters our ego and makes us proud of our so-called ‘achievements’.

That is why books such as The City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, which gives the impression that India is a vast slum, or a film like Slumdog Millionaire, have such an impact.

In this film, India’s foes have joined hands. Today, billions of dollars that innocent Westerners give to charity are used to convert the poorest of India with the help of enticements such as free medical aid, schooling and loans.

If you see the Tamil Nadu coast posttsunami, there is a church every 500 metres. Once converted, these new Christians are taught that it is a sin to enter a temple, do puja, or even put tilak on one’s head, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche (In an interview to a British newspaper, Danny Boyle confessed he wanted to be a Christian missionary when he was young and that he is still very much guided by these ideals — so much for his impartiality).

Islamic fundamentalism also ruthlessly hounds India, as demonstrated by the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, which are reminiscent of the brutality and savagery of a Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single act of savagery.

Indian communists, in power in three states, are also hard at work to dismantle India’s cultural and spiritual inheritance. And finally, the Americanisation of India is creating havoc in the social and cultural fabric with its superficial glitter, even though it has proved a failure in the West. Slumdog plays cleverly with all these elements.

Many of the West’s India-specialists are staunchly anti-Hindu, both because of their Christian upbringing and also as they perpetuate the tradition of Max Mueller, the first ‘Sankritist’ who said: “The Vedas is full of childish, silly, even monstrous conceptions. It is tedious, low, commonplace, it represents human nature on a low level of selfishness and worldliness and only here and there are a few rare sentiments that come from the depths of the soul”.

This tradition is carried over by Indologists such as Witzel or Wendy Doniger in the US, and in France where scholars of the state-sponsored CNRS, and its affiliates such as EHESS, are always putting across in their books and articles detrimental images of India: caste, poverty, slums — and more than anything — their pet theories about ‘Hindu fundamentalism’.

Can there be a more blatant lie? Hinduism has given refuge throughout the ages to those who were persecuted at home: the Christians of Syria, the Parsees, Armenians, the Jews of Jerusalem, and today the Tibetans, allowing them all to practise their religion freely.

And finally, it is true that Indians, because they have been colonised for so long (unlike the Chinese) lack nationalism.

Today much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots and looks to the West to solve its problems, ignoring its own tools, such as pranayama, hata-yoga or meditation, which are very old and possess infinite wisdom.

Slumdog literally defecates on India from the first frame. Some scenes exist only in the perverted imagery of director Danny Boyle, because they are not in the book of Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, on which the film is based. In the book, the hero of the film (who is not Muslim, but belongs to many religions: Ram Mohammad Thomas) does not spend his childhood in Bombay, but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother is not killed by “Hindu fanatics’, but she abandons her baby, of unknown religion, in a church. Jamal’s torture is not an idea of the television presenter, but of an American who is after the Russian who bought the television rights of the game. The tearful scene of the three children abandoned in the rain is also not in the book: Jamal and his heroine only meet when they are teenagers and they live in an apartment and not in a slum.

And finally, yes, there still exists in India a lot of poverty and glaring gaps between the very rich and the extremely poor, but there is also immense wealth, both physical, spiritual and cultural — much more than in the West as a matter of fact.

When will the West learn to look with less prejudice at India, a country that will supplant China in this century as the main Asian power? But this will require a new generation of Indologists, more sincere, less attached to their outdated Christian values, and Indians more proud of their own culture and less subservient to the West.

fgautier26@gmail.com

INDE : PAUVRETE, CLICHES ET SLUMDOG MILLIONNAIRE

Translated from original French article with GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Why, as a film Slumdog Millionaire, which conveys a negative image of India – slums, exploitation, poverty, corruption, anti Muslim pogroms – meeting he so successful in the West?

By François Gautier, ancien correspondent du Figaro in South Asia, editor of the Journal of India (lesbelles.lettres.com)

There are several answers:

1. When the missionaries began to evangelize India, they quickly realized that Hinduism was a religion that was not only practiced by a huge majority, but it was deeply rooted in the mentality of Indians. They therefore decided to blacken the ‘defects’ of the Hindu religion, by multiplying by one hundred: caste, poverty, child marriage, superstition, sort of widows, sati … Today, these stereotypes persist and focus on the ‘image we have of India
2. We, Westerners continue to suffer from a superiority complex in relation to peoples of the Third World in general and India in particular. Sitting in front of our television time information, a steak frites before us, we like to feel sorry for the misery of others, it flatters our ego. That is why books such as the City of Joy Dominique Lapierre, which give the impression that India is a vast slum, or a film Slumdog Millionaire, deftly handling the half-lies, have a such impact.
3. In this film, the enemies of India join hands. Today, billions of dollars that gullible parishioners give to charity used to convert the poorest in India. Once converted, they are taught to hate their culture, their religion, thus creating an imbalance in the Indian psyche. Islamic fundamentalism ruthlessly hounds also against India, as demonstrated by the recent bombings in Mumbai. Indian communists are in power in three states, made alliance with the Adventists (and other radical Protestant sects) and the fundamentalist Muslims against Hindus. And finally, the over-Americanization also seriously social and cultural capital of India. Slumdog plays on all these pictures of a misleading way.
4. Closer to home, in France, French Indian, played by researchers in South Asia of CNRS, and its affiliates such as EHESS, has often been the vehicle for misérabilisme: caste, poverty and of ‘denial’: the ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. Can be done most glaring contradiction? Hinduism has shown throughout its history a remarkable tolerance to the Christians of Syria, Arab merchants, the Parsees of Zoroaster, the Jews of Jerusalem, persecuted at home, to settle in India and ‘practice their religion freely. At the beginning of the film, Jamal’s mother has throat cut by Hindu fanatics. But it is the Muslims who slaughter live a Daniel Pearl and broadcast the film on the internet – never the Hindus. Riots in India are always initiated by the Muslims: the anti-pogroms in Gujarat were triggered because 59 Hindus, including 36 women and children, were burned as in dogs in a train by a mob of Muslims.

5. And finally, it is true that the Indians, because they have been colonized for so long (unlike the Chinese) do not have a lot of national pride and are sometimes even proud of being criticized. Today much of the intellectual elite of India has lost touch with its cultural roots as well as spiritual and only look to the West to solve its problems, ignoring its own tools, which are very old and possess infinite wisdom . It is the eternal history of the colonized become more sectarian than the settlers.

How else that Slumdog Millionaire, which literally defecating on India from the first frame (a child who plunges into a sea of crap to get an autograph of Amitabh Bacchan), is a tobacco? Some scenes from the film are, however, in the perverted imagery of director Danny Boyle, because we can not find them in the book by Vikas Swarup, an Indian diplomat, whose film is based. The hero of the film (which is not Muslim, but many religions: Ram Mohammad Thomas) does not pass his childhood in Bombay, but in a Catholic orphanage in Delhi. Jamal’s mother is not killed by “Hindu fanatics’ in the book, but she abandons her baby, of unknown religion in a church. Jamal torture is not a television presenter, but an American who wants the Russian who bought the television rights of the game. The scene of tears three children abandoned in the rain is also not in the book. Jamal and his heroine from colliding when they are teenagers and they live in an apartment and not in a slum.

And finally, yes, there still exists in India of poverty and glaring gaps between rich and poor, but those who know something about the slums of Bombay, know that most of the inhabitants belong to the whole ‘ small ‘middle class (relative to income in India) that every house in the slums has a TV antenna and most of the residents worked in the city.

When the West lay there another way of looking at India, more just, free of prejudices still attached to this country that should supplant China in this century? But this will require a new generation of Indiana more sincere, less tied to outdated values, rises in France …

fgautier26@gmail.com

francoisgautier.com

Read: Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Tricorne Publishing, 1999), François Gautier.

Caravan interior by Francois Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)

The French India (France Loisirs, 2008), by the same author.

Pourquoi donc, un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui véhicule une image négative de l’Inde – bidonvilles, exploitation, pauvreté, corruption, pogroms anti musulmans – rencontre-t-il tant de succès en Occident?

Par François Gautier, ancien correspondant du Figaro en Asie du sud, rédacteur en chef de la Revue de l’Inde (lesbelles.lettres.com)

Il existe plusieurs réponses :

1. Lorsque les missionnaires entreprirent d’évangéliser l’Inde, ils se rendirent rapidement compte que l’hindouisme était une religion qui était non seulement pratiquée par une énorme majorité, mais aussi qu’elle était fortement ancrée dans la mentalité des Indiens. Ils se décidèrent donc à noircir les ‘défauts’ de la religion hindoue, en les multipliant par cent : castes, pauvreté, mariages d’enfants, superstitions, sort des veuves, sati… Aujourd’hui ces clichés perdurent et s’attachent à l’image que nous avons de l’Inde
2. Nous, Occidentaux, continuons à souffrir d’un complexe de supériorité par rapport aux peuples du Tiers Monde en général et de l’Inde en particulier. Assis devant notre télévision à l’heure des informations, un steak-frites devant nous, il nous plaît de nous apitoyer sur la misère des autres, cela flatte notre ego. C’est pour cela que des livres tels que la Cité de la Joie de Dominique Lapierre, qui donnent l’impression que l’Inde est un vaste bidonville, ou un film comme Slumdog Millionnaire, qui manie adroitement les demi-mensonges, connaissent un tel retentissement.
3. Dans ce film, les ennemis de l’Inde se donnent la main. Aujourd’hui, les milliards de dollars que des paroissiens crédules donnent aux œuvres de charité servent à convertir les plus pauvres de l’Inde. Une fois convertis, on leur apprend à haïr leur culture, leur religion, créant ainsi un déséquilibre dans la psyché indienne. Le fondamentalisme islamique s’acharne également sans pitié contre l’Inde, comme l’ont démontré les récents attentats de Mumbai. Les communistes indiens qui sont au pouvoir dans trois états, ont fait alliance avec les adventistes (et autres sectes protestantes radicales) et les musulmans fondamentalistes contre les hindous. Et enfin, l’américanisation à outrance entame sérieusement le capital culturel et social indien. Slumdog joue sur tous ces clichés d’une façon mensongère.
4. Plus près de nous, en France, l’Indianisme français, incarné par les chercheurs d’Asie du sud du CNRS, ainsi que par ses affiliés tel l’EHESS, s’est souvent fait le vecteur de misérabilisme : castes, pauvreté ; et de ‘négationnisme’ : le ‘fondamentalisme hindou’. Peut-on faire contresens plus flagrant ? L’hindouisme a fait preuve tout au long de son histoire d’une remarquable tolérance, permettant aux chrétiens de Syrie, aux marchands arabes, aux parsis de Zoroastre, aux juifs de Jérusalem, persécutés chez eux, de s’établir en Inde et d’y pratiquer leur religion en toute liberté. Au début du film, la mère de Jamal a la gorge tranchée par des fanatiques hindous. Mais ce sont les musulmans qui égorgent ‘live’ un Daniel Pearl et diffusent le film sur internet – jamais les hindous. En Inde les émeutes sont toujours initiées par les musulmans : les pogroms antimusulmans du Gujarat ont été déclenchés parce que 59 hindous, dont 36 femmes et enfants, furent brûlés comme dans chiens dans un train par une meute de musulmans.

5. Et finalement, il est vrai que les Indiens, parce qu’ils ont été colonisés si longtemps (contrairement aux Chinois), n’ont pas énormément de fierté nationale et sont même quelquefois fiers d’être critiqués. Aujourd’hui une grande partie de l’élite intellectuelle indienne a perdu contact avec ses racines culturelles ainsi que spirituelles et regarde uniquement vers l’Occident pour résoudre ses problèmes, en ignorant ses propres outils, qui sont pourtant très anciens et possèdent une infinie sagesse. C’est l’éternelle histoire des colonisés qui deviennent plus sectaires encore que les colons.

Commente expliquer autrement que Slumdog Millionnaire, qui littéralement défèque sur l’Inde dès les premières images (un enfant qui plonge dans une mer de merde pour obtenir un autographe d’Amitabh Bacchan), fasse un tel tabac ? Certaines des scènes du film n’existent pourtant que dans l’imagerie pervertie de Danny Boyle le réalisateur, car on ne les trouve pas dans le livre de Vikas Swarup, un diplomate indien, dont le film est tiré. Le héro du film (qui n’est pas musulman, mais à religions multiples : Ram Mohammad Thomas) ne passe pas son enfance à Bombay, mais dans un orphelinat catholique de Delhi. La mère de Jamal n’est pas assassinée par des ‘hindous fanatiques’ dans le livre, mais elle abandonne son nouveau né, dont on ignore la religion dans une église. Torturer Jamal n’est pas une idée du présentateur de télévision, mais d’un Américain qui en veut au Russe qui a racheté les droits du jeu télévisé. La scène larmoyante des trois enfants abandonnés sous la pluie n’est également pas dans le livre. Jamal et son héroïne ne se rencontrent que lorsqu’ils sont adolescents et ils vivent dans un appartement et pas dans un bidonville.

Et finalement, oui, il existe encore en Inde de la misère et de flagrants fossés entre les très riches et les plus pauvres, mais tous ceux qui connaissent un peu les bidonvilles de Bombay, savent que la plupart de leurs habitants appartiennent à la toute ‘petite’ classe moyenne (par rapport aux revenus indiens), que chaque maison de ces bidonvilles a sa propre antenne de télévision et que la plupart de leurs habitants travaillent dans la ville.

Quand l’Occident jettera-t-il un autre regard sur l’Inde, plus juste, débarrassé des préjugés qui s’attachent toujours à ce pays qui devrait supplanter la Chine au cours de ce siècle ? Mais pour cela il va falloir qu’une nouvelle génération d’indianistes plus sincères, moins attachés à des valeurs périmées, se lève en France…

fgautier26@gmail.com

francoisgautier.com

A Lire : Un Autre Regard sur l’Inde (Editions du Tricorne, 1999), François Gautier.

La Caravane intérieure, par François Gautier (Les Belles Lettres, 2005)

Les Français en Inde (France Loisirs, 2008), par le même auteur.