Saturday, 13 February 2016

This Unquiet Land - India

This Unquiet Land is written by the most prominent face of Indian journalists, Barkha Dutt against her backdrop of growing up in an urban middle class family while observing the country around her change. I also grew up in an urban middle class, rather lower-middle class, grew up in Thimphu and seen the changes in the capital city as well as the country.

Though both my parents are not highly educated and not hold any important posts in public offices, I remember the BBS radio used to be played at our home after my father bought it from Jaigaon on our way back from village in the winter of 1997. The BBS radio would be kept playing, may be because my mother wanted to listen to the Sharchokpa songs. Sharchokpa broadcast would last one hour and the next hour used to be Lhotshamkha broadcast – that is how I learnt my meagre Nepali. Till then, a tape recorder with radio was a household necessity.

Then came 1999. I was at the Changlimethang ground (it was not much of a stadium then) to witness the Silver Jubilee celebrations. For me that day, those three big balloons were the most important only to realise that the BBS that giving radio broadcasts, then started to give television broadcast. Those days, we didn’t own a television set. It was much later, may be in 2001 when having a television set became a necessity, that my parents bought a small television set.

Of the many channels and programmes on television, I came across NDTV as a good source of Indian news. And it became a habit to watch three news channels – BBS, BBC and NDTV – apart from other channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

The first face I knew on NDTV was Barkha Dutt because she would host many programmes (and consume more air time I guess). It was through this channel that I continue to consume Indian news. With no one to explain the situations or the background in which the news happened, watching more and more news connected some of the dots. I did not understand some of the news such as the Manmohan Singh government going for confidence vote over the civil nuclear programme issue. What I only knew was that they needed 272 Member of Parliaments to vote to stay in power.

In my effort to understand more about how India functions, I read news and books. Some of them give complementary information while some give contradictory information on the same event. Nevertheless, one event can never be described in the same way by two people (this is called Rashomon effect).

Barkha Dutt in her book This Unquiet Land gives a background understanding on the current affairs in India in some of the selected topics (many of which are sensual for journalists). It talks on the place of women and gender inequality, the problems of caste and reservation system, the perennial problem with Pakistan, Kashmir and Hindu-Muslim fights in the name of God. It also describes the current trajectory of politics in India.

Over the years, I have seen many changes both my own country and in India. Despite all its problems and noises with virtually everyone shouting even on television panel discussions, India is a land of such diversity and I am always awed by it.

*Disclaimer: This is not a book review, I am no expert on India, and today only I came to know that NDTV stands for New Delhi Television haha :D 

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