Lets get this straight… being a slumdog is probably only derogatory in India and to the India fascists and hypocrites. Whats wrong is being a slumdog? No one chooses to be in a slum or go through the struggles of living in a slum. It is extremely easy for those on one side of the shore to romanticize or dismiss the other.
Let me be honest, I don´t know what it is to live in a slum but I have lived most of life being next to Slums while in Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi. I even had friends in the slums while I was maybe 10 years old and was fasinated to fly kites and the kids from the slums were the most resourceful and I made friends with them. I still remember those wonderful summers when I was flying kites with my friends. I did not regard them in any lowly manner. I don´t know what happened to those kids but I don´t think there was any thing different from the way they looked at life than what I did at that time. Maybe my family and parents had resources to direct my faculty towards education. I don´t think it was the fault of those kids that they did not aspire to be different. Actually, I should apologize for the previous sentence because for all that I know those kids might have made something of themselves.
Everyone´s life has struggles and challenges… nothing is easy and maybe there are some lucky ones who had it easy. I believe I was one of those lucky blokes, although I believe that I worked hard to be who I am today or what I aspire to be. What am I trying to get to… well, lets not get hung up with the word “Slumdog” it is the thought that goes into the one who is reading those words that needs review. As long as we treat people with respect and allow everyone to have dignity irrespective of where they live or where they are from I think we might live to see a better or brighter day for this world especially in India.
The more I observe the society here in India, I have to change my perception… I believed that Cast and the Cast system in India was dead, I could not be more wrong about this. The cast system has evolved like everything else… now the cast is not based on your origin, it is based on how much money you have, what car you drive or what kind of clothes you wear. So in one way the traditional cast system is dead but it has given birth to a more sinister kind of system. It does not matter how you accumulate wealth as long as you are moving up the economic hierarchy.
I have hope in the new generation, the young 500 million or so who are below the ages of 25 as they will wash the sins of our past. In addition, the generation that built this new cast are probably dead by the time the new generation takes over. Majority of them have access to resources and wealth effect is actully seeping into the society and I am waiting for this generation to break free… and they will.
I am not the only one who thinks this way please see Mr. Nandan Nilekani´s post about the Slumdog movie… here is a excerpt that I thought was very insightful…
“The movie is at its heart, about aspiration, and about dreams coming true. This ‘common man’ Jamal, is not angry, like the Indian men of the 1970s. He is both hopeful and relentless, defiant and proud of his origins even as the people around him call him a ’slumdog’. He knows better – that it doesn’t matter where you come from, only where you are headed.”