Do you speak Hindi?

”Do you speak Hindi?”, the guy next to me in the cinema smilingly asked, with the more often than not impeccable English Indians speak, albeit with a charming, but distinct accent. Having decided to see the movie Aarakshan on the grounds of hopefully learning a tad more about the to me incongruent piece of geography called India, my heart fell a little. No, I do not speak Hindi, I must admit I had counted on English sub-titles…, which the film, to my great relief, actually turned out to provide.

My knowledge of India is very limited, but my curiosity about this historically and culturally rich and immensely diverse country is unsaturable. Authors like Vikas Swarup, Vikram Seth, Gregory David Roberts, Tobjørn Færøvik, in addition to accounts by Mark Tully (BBC) and Joar Hoel Larsen (NRK) and other journalists, have fuelled my interest, as have talks with people who have travelled, done business or in other ways spent time in the country. 

Some focus on the opportunities, some on the challenges. India is lacking in neither. Nor is the world lacking in facts and statistics on the country, information that sometimes leave me optimistic about its future, sometimes pessimistic, but always baffled!

But the devil can cite scripture, and statistics, for his own purpose; the picture can be turned this way and that, depending on what we choose to focus on: Castisism, illiteracy, corruption, gross inequalities in terms of living conditions, education, job opportunities, health care, gender etc. etc. on the one side, and economic growth, “reservation” (securing “backward classes” places within educational institutions and GOs) and further state and province welfare schemes, subsidies, other programs etc. on the other.

When trying to figure out India and its future, juggling a whole lot of balls at the same time is necessary. Keeping the challenges in mind, one should welcome, encourage, explore and exploit the opportunities for improvement. India’s faith is not separate from ours, economically nor ethically.

And concerning books, articles, films, research… you come across, or your own experiences on the subject, please keep me posted:-)

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