Saturday, February 28, 2009

Awards - Are they always justified?

For all its merits, there are some flaws of globalization, which has generally meant that we gulp down what is put forth by the West.

Now, it is indeed a fact that the Anglo Saxon group has coveted the world and it has been a harbinger of technology and progress. Pax Americana, the current era under which we live right now has given us such technological progress that it has dramatically improved human life all over the place. Those of us who have been able to derive benefits from this have moved ahead in our personal lives.

But this has been at a great cost to local cultures and civilizations. The places where the above mentioned group has gone to have had to face tremendous loss of lives and fortune to get this 'manna' of civilization from the West. And in places where they have not been able to destroy local cultures, the locals have had their minds subverted to being subservient to the West forever. People view their culture as lowly and , and anything made in the West is treated to be heavenly and divine.

Something similar happens in the awards category. While we all know that awards are meant for hard work and achievements, there is an often unseen dimension to awards. That they can also be given by propagandists of a cause, or an image.

And so, in India, while people may give back awards from the government as below:
“I have a great deal of respect for the Sahitya Akademi, for the members of this year's Jury and for many of the writers who have received these awards in the past. But to register my protest and reaffirm my disagreement — indeed my absolute disgust — with these policies of the Indian Government, I must refuse to accept the 2005 Sahtiya Akademi Award”, Arundhati said in a statement here.
“These essays written between 1998 and 2001 are deeply critical of some of the major policies of the Indian State”, she said. The main area of her disgreement included the government policies of constructing big dams, persuing nuclear weapons, increasing militarisation and economic liberalisation.

which may or may not be for a just cause, people do not think twice before accepting awards from western governments or institutions.

For an example of how this propaganda takes place, have a look at the winner of the 10th annual Jonathan Mann Award. A yet ambiguous case still pends against him and yet he gets 22 Nobel Prize winners demanding his release.

But when there are situations wherein somebody from outside the West deserving prizes, there have been complete denial of felicitations. Events related to the Nobel Prize, and in India's case, when great scientists of India - Jagdish Chandra Bose and Satyendra Nath Bose are such cases.

And now, we have slumdog millionaire. Nobody in India needs to be reminded of slums. Poverty is endemic in many places in the country, even the rich might not be able to avoid the sight of slums as they may have to go by them on their way to work. If people had to generate awareness, one trip outside would suffice. The plea for slumdog apologists that it is the beacon of truth and enlightenment is pure baloney.

And if we are thinking that slumdog is a slang for a person from the slums and is a commonly used word, then we are wrong. The word does not exist, at least in this dictionary. It is but a hangover of us being called dogs by natives of the nation that might not even have existed when India was at its zenith. For them, we are still what we are 60 years ago. In this day and age, inspite of sections of the Indian society having started to march ahead, we seem to have no right to dream, no right to look up and no right to relieve ourselves of our troubles even temporarily by demanding a feel good movie. We need to be kicked and punched and thrown back into the same hole, that is what the white man seems to be saying. Even a woman of a newly turned middle class family would try to hide her ugliness, if any. Why not mother India?

In the midst of all this insistence of truth and disregard for fallacies in entertainment, we forget that that is what entertainment stands for, so that we can have a getaway for a while from our daily troubles, and live in dreamworld for a certain time. What else can be the purpose of producing movies as 'Transformers', 'Superman', 'The Matrix', etc? Why of course it is to be in fantasy land for a short while. Who would watch a movie to be reminded of the facts of life? And that too to be reminded of poverty? Is it then entertainment at all?

I have not seen the movie, so I can't say more. What appalls me is that our own people have fallen for the trap, and allowing this portrayal of poverty in India to win acclaim and getting back Oscars. And although many a common Indian has raised his voice against it, but since we are not part of the movie, our word will not be accepted. Instead of allowing the contrarians some space, voices against the movie have been dismissed by a member of the star cast as being jealous or worse, childish.

As a solution to this, we must regain the virtues of desireless action, that just might be enable us to do our duties with utmost devotion and have no desire for awards. And this would also enable us to see through designs of such 'awards'.

We need to be situated in, as the Lord would say - "transcendental consciousness"
Chapter 2 55
श्री-भगवान उवाचा
प्रजाती यदा कमान
सरवन पर्थ मनो-गतान
अत्मन्य एवात्माना तुस्तः
स्थित-प्रज्नस तदोच्यते।
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O Partha, when a man gives up all varieties of desire for sense gratification, which arise from mental concoction, and when his mind, thus purified, finds satisfaction in the self alone, then he is said to be in pure transcendental consciousness."

which may enable us to see through ill motives of others.

This is in no way to imply that people who brought back Oscars for the movie had actually worked with intentions of Oscars in mind. They might have worked with full dedication to their profession too. We have no right to cast doubts on their intentions. But, on announcement of the awards, they should be conscious of the fact that not all awards are meant for hard work, some are meant to spread propaganda and to further selfish interests too.

Unlike the two Boses mentioned above, who often chose not to patent inventions believing that science is for the benefit of all, hence believing in Indian ideals of desireless action, can we imagine people of India today denying Western awards? When an Indian patriot made a search over google about this, he was dismayed with what Google threw up. Even Google, does not believe that Indians can deny Western Awards. Check the screen shot below.

The day we Indians refuse to accept a Western award would be, at least for me.. a day to hold my head high.

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