Ok here’s a quick question.
Of all the burning issues associated with Indian urban life, which one do you think would grab international attention?
Cows. Yes that’s it.
In New Delhi, which 13 million people share with an estimated 28,000 cows, the problems are legion: Wandering cows clog streets and cause road accidents. Herds of cows spread trash and disease as they tear open plastic garbage bags in search of food and leave trails of dung. They sometimes trample people to death.
As Mr T would say: “I pity the fool.”
Weird isn’t it ? Sections of the Western Press still find comfort in perpetuating the perennial stereotype of India—-cows, snake charmers, sadhus , communal/caste riots, disease and any news item ( a marauding monkey man for example) thats fits in with this image is played up for more than its worth.
My dad who did his PhD in Economics from University of Rochester in the 60s told me of a very famous professor who seriously thought that India was underdeveloped (or developing as they say nowadays) because the weather was so good that no-one needed to work . People slept outside in the lap of nature and whenever they felt pangs of hunger, they plucked mangoes from the trees. As a result they had no incentive to industrialize. Amazing but true !
And another American student asked my father about India and said that the only two things he knew about the country were “Ramakrishna” and “Kamasutra”. Yes this was the 60’s !
However this is 2005 and you would think that with the advent of the information age, things would get better. Evidently not.
In a perverted way, the more India modernizes and poses an economic challenge to the West, the more determined do sections of the press become in highlighting the “comforting” fact that no matter how much India heaves its chest and claims to be a world power, it is ultimately a land where cows can stop cities.
Thank heavens the foreign presswallahs missed this one (Cabaret dance shows at cattle fair) Combining the best (or worst) of the Kamasutra and cow worship, there is no way this could not have made the headlines.