Sunday, 15 December 2013

Optimism Lost?

Today was the convocation of the 4th batch of students who completed their Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication and Journalism from my college. It was an intense affair or at least I felt so, having attended such an event for the first time. Well, the ceremony was austere, the receiving of medals was enthusiastic and the food was quite alright. But the highlight of the event was the speech delivered by the keynote speaker, an editor-in-chief of a French publication. That address was the clinching factor in today’s programme and I’m sure that it had a profound effect on all those present there.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.
The self-styled ‘Frenchman’ spoke at length on journalism in India and his experiences of having been the correspondent for South Asia for another publication in his younger days. But most of all he spoke about the disappointment that Indians have in being Indian. The lost passion of being proud countrymen that only erupts when lousy neighbours come knocking at the borders. He said that India had great potential, that of manpower, of wealth (albeit black money), of natural resources and of education. But even in the face of all this, the people of India only see destitution, poverty, corruption, starvation, crime rates and terrorism. Today, the people of India are so blinded by the problems in their nation that they have forgotten the great wealth that lies within. And maybe, just maybe, it is the fault of the Indian media.

He didn't go into the reasons but explained how one just had to pick up an Indian newspaper or watch an Indian news channel in the morning to utterly destroy one’s happiness and descend the ladder into depression. He also made a very important point in context to history, going on to say that skewed history and ignorance or disinterest in the subject has led Indians to lose faith in their country over time. But, he says that there is so much good in India. It is not the people who are corrupt, just the ‘system’. But so is the case everywhere else. India’s political structure is no more corrupt than any other nation. It is just that the Indian media needs to change its parameters to judge the situation of the country.

Well, that’s what the man had to say and we, prospective journalist were listening so attentively that had the fire alarm blared out, we wouldn't have paid attention. Anyway, when I pondered over this, I think I sort of accepted his explanation. I, as an Indian, certainly do not think very highly of my nation in relation to human rights, poverty alleviation, standard of living, minimum wage, employment, child welfare and a host of other issues. But come to think of it, there are many other things that have seen progress here and to name them would be a herculean task. But one hardly pays attention to those achievements today. It is not wrong to put problems in perspective, but it is definitely wrong not to revel in what we excel.

There is indeed a lot of good in India and we would do well to realize it.

Here is the video of Monsieur Francois Gautier delivering his keynote address at the convocation.