Benjamin Schrier writes in San Francisco magazine about the impact Asian-Indian immigrants have had on Silicon Valley, how the downturn and US immigration rules are affecting younger immigrant technology workers, and what this may mean for Silicon Valley’s long-term prospects. One of the men profiled in the article is the brother of a high-school friend, and I can relate to much of the article. I stayed with my first US employer for far longer than I would have if a work-visa were not a concern.
If you can put together an angry mob, it’s easy to silence someone in India. The Washington Post writes about how M.F. Husain’s work has been targeted by unruly mobs. This particular controversy is especially ridiculous for anyone who’s seen older temples and murals, or even read any contemporary Amar Chitra Katha. Husain is very firmly within an ancient artistic tradition that represents avatars in a sensual manner, a prime example is Krishna. Of course, he’s a politically expedient target for the VHP.
The NY Times writes on the threat climate change may pose to Bombay, and the impact unrestrained development is having on the local ecology.
There’s a class of Indian who has become very comfortable with the fairy-tale that India is populated entirely by well-educated, hyper-intelligent computer engineers, doctors and managers. Slumdog Millionaire is an affront to their egos because it vividly projects the stark reality of life for most Indians in the cities, not the fantasy indulged in by the elite 2% who travel all over the world and would like their friends to imagine India in colorful weddings, the Taj Mahal and gleaming banks of computers.
The reality is that India is deeply fractured along the lines of class, religion and wealth. It’s a place where legal authority is too often used to oppress, and justice is delayed. A country where politicians manipulate public disturbances and pogroms to further their own careers. A society which has been trying to stitch itself together into a cohesive whole, but has nightmarish episodes of tribal violence.
Bombay is filthy and bustling, but within it lie pockets of beauty and serenity. I despair whenever I think of the criminal gangs and mobs who seem to rule the city, but then a random act of kindness or example of civic responsibility from an unexpected quarter makes me hopeful. Like the rest of India, Bombay is more prosperous than it was a few years ago. People coming of age today have bigger dreams than their parents ever did, and a greater likelihood of having them realized. In broad terms, this is true for virtually everyone, and the movie captures this. Jamal works at a BPO, after all, where being muslim is largely unremarkable.
The movie is reasonably accurate in its setting and those bothered by its depiction of India should start working on improving the lot of the most underprivileged amongst them and stop harping on about perceived blows to their over-sized egos. A good place to start would be ensuring every child has access to a quality education at no cost.