Oh, before I forget. If you missed it (the first two episodes aired last night, the next two next Sunday night), here's a link to the CBC's website for the series:
For the most part, there wasn't a great deal that was novel or revelatory for anyone who knows India. But, for those who don't, the series, or at any rate the first two episodes, present a generally balanced view of the paradoxes and puzzles of contemporary India. The usual suspects, such as the ills of the caste system, poverty, deprivation, and so forth show up. As well as the scourge of Hindu fundametalism. An interesting lacuna is no discussion of Islamic fundamentalism, nor of the 26/11 Mumai terrorist attacks. I suspect the film was made beforehand. Also, in my judgement, insufficient attention to the colonial history, and how a knowledge of this is essential to frame the current situation. Let's not forget that the flames of Hindu-Muslim enmity were fanned by the British Raj, in a successful bid (well, for two hundred years or so) to keep the country from uniting and kicking out the colonizers. And as a parting gift they tore the country in two when they left. (Well, they had help from Nehru, Jinnah, and Gandhi -- but that's a tale for another time.) Churchill famously predicted that India would descent into chaos when the British left. I'm glad to report that he lived long enough to see his gleeful prophecy fail, although I doubt he would ever have admitted it.
Anyway, despite my cribbing, a series that for the most part is sensible and pens a cautiously optimistic epistle of the world's largest democracy. I'll stay tuned. Especially to see what Vijay Mallya's Goa mansion looks like from the inside (I've only seen the outside gates).
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