Couple of days back an Australian Radio host called India a "shithole" and the Ganges a "junkyard". I was a little confused on how to react to that. I have spent half of the last 5 years working outside India. Toronto, where I am working now has a great mix of cultures from all over the world. And of course in a foreign land, whether you want it or not, you end up representing your home country.
After reading what Kyle Sandilands had to say, I went went from one extreme emotion to another in a matter of seconds. Finally the logical part of my brain kicked in and I realized he was probably ill informed or maybe just a loud mouth seeking Succès de scandale. Or maybe he was a hate monger who couldn't stand the sight of brown skin. Seeing how he chose a religious hot spot to comment on - he probably wanted people to notice him, in which case he succeeded. And also, there is no dearth of stupidity in this world.
This article though is not about him. Sure, he was way out of line. But how does one counter his interpretation about the Ganges? I realized that defending this point would mean I am inadvertently defending people who have no remorse in polluting the great river. Anyway you look at it - its a problem. It is not a problem just because of the physical state of the river. The problem also lies in the minds of the people who refuse to acknowledge it and in the minds of the people who treat it as a pseudo-religious-intellectual need. Do you see a problem here? I can't defend something that I don't believe in!
My dilemma goes beyond just this one conversation or this guy who has an opinion on a country he has never been to. There have been several instances where I have read a book or watched a movie or a TV program or even overheard a conversation about India and wanted to say - "None of your business!" but didn't want to go beyond that. Like a lot of people in my generation - I feel disconnected from some mainstream traditional values and ethos. I am not very religious and I rarely abide by the usual social preferences. So how does one react to conversations around these topics?