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Slums Tourism In Mumbai

“Slumdog Millionaire” not a slum-dunk for Mumbai tourism

Dr. PL Joshi  Mar 03, 2009

First of all, I congratulate all people involved in this movie and, particularly, to Mr. Rahman for winning Oscar awards and bringing laurels for himself, Bollywood, and to the country. However, I do not subscribe to the argument of this article titled “Slumdog Millionaire boosts Mumbai tourism."

Mumbai has its own historical importance, and it is the financial and industrial hub of India. A major chunk of tax revenues go to the government from this city. The city has several tourist places apart from beaches. The development of Mumbai in [the] last 5-10 years has been very rapid, outstanding, and the pace of development is still continuing. The argument that “Slumdog Millionaire” will bring tourism to Mumbai makes no sense to sagacious people like me. I have several concerns about this movie and the perceptions of the west about India.

I realized that this movie projects somewhat a negative image about India. Did this movie sell out Indian poverty to [the] west? Does it mean that make a movie on Indian poverty or Mumbai slums, it will fetch Oscar Awards? We, non-resident Indians (NRIs), excel abroad and keep our flag very high by demonstrating our skills, intelligence, hard work, Indian culture and values. Indian institutions and government bodies recognize and honor NRIs every year for their excellent work carried out in other countries. On the other hand, Bollywood and Hollywood producers and directors make such movies on India, projecting somewhat a negative goodwill about India and get awards like Oscar in the west, thereby indicating and communicating to others that produce a movie on slums and poverty of India, and you stand high chances to win awards like [an] Oscar in foreign lands.

My other question is: how many times [have] these people produced movies on good things about India? Maybe many times, but none of their movies earned [an] Oscar? Why? Indian middle class has progressed like anything in the world. Today, India has [an] over 315 million middle-class population, which is perhaps more than the population of the US. Why [don’t] people in other countries appreciate this and recognize the excellent progress of India and [the] Indian society?

Indian culture, values, and yoga have given a lot to western countries. Today, more than 50 percent of corporate executives in the US alone practice yoga to keep themselves fit and overcome their work stress. Perhaps there might have been movies on this; why were Oscar awards not considered?

Two years back, Reader's Digest, in its global survey, tried to project Mumbai as the rudest city in the world and New York the most behaved city, though I severely criticized Reader's Digest's unscientific methodology used in that survey. My perception has been that many times western societies prefer to read some negative images about India and its cities, for the best reasons known to them.

If a husband and wife have [a] quarrel at home, it does not mean that they should bring their quarrel to the streets. They have to project themselves in front of others as if they are [a] good couple, otherwise there is no family. Same way, yes, India has poverty (which cannot be eradicated overnight), but it does not mean that it should be projected in such [a] way to gain awards. Mumbai has some slum areas because people migrate from rural areas every year in search [of a] better life. At the same time, land is limited in Mumbai and resources available at the disposal of [the] government are always limited, therefore, housing is an acute problem. However, in [the] last five years, [the] Maharashtra government has done an excellent job in resettling the people from slum areas, and thousands of families have been provided small houses. This work continues there, and we hope that in [the] next decade, there will not be any slums in Mumbai.

“Slumdog Millionaire” not a slum-dunk for Mumbai tourism

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