India has been in the news in recent times. Yes, I am talking about news in New Zealand too. The Commonwealth Games in Delhi is at the moment at risk of being called off because of security and health reasons. New Zealand sports team has made a lot of fuss on this issue. Every evening you hear reports from Delhi on how crap the facilities are over there, and how sports persons from the 'first world' run the risk of catching a disease or being caught in a terrorist attack.
I couldn't sit back and have my country take all the shame and not say anything about it. Not that my saying would help in any practical way; but it would do me good to speak out.
What the fuss is about
Sensibly, the fuss is not an misplaced one. Countries like NZ have a reason to doubt safety for health and security reasons. They are sending their best athletes (considering the meagre population) to compete and the last thing they want to do is for them to fall into any sort of danger.
Why there shouldn't be too much fuss
But it pisses me off because they are starting to sound like snobbish mothers unwilling to let their kids to school because they might get beaten up or bullied. This is the real world. You might grow up in a peaceful and well nourished lifestyle, but like it or not, if you are considered a world class athlete, start to behave like one. There is a reason why there is a 'world' in 'world-class'. It means you have to learn to compete in places where you don't necessarily have a picturesque backdrop; because believe it or not, there are places like these in the world too..
Which brings me to the next point: the meaning of Commonwealth.
From my history in school, I learnt that the Commonwealth was begun so that there could be equality among the member countries, and so that there could be mutual benefit and co-operation between the countries.
Yesterday I read in the NZ Herald and I quote: The games have rarely strayed outside Britain, Canada, NZ and Australia, but it is desirable to increasingly involve Commonwealth nations in Asia and Africa. As much as the last minute scares in Delhi have wounded India's pride, they have also damaged the whole concept of Commonwealth Games. (Editorial, 23 September, 2010)
Do the media in the so called First World take joy in pointing out and prodding the wounds (though they be healing) of the Third World just because it makes them realize how much more progressed they are?
India and the Third World
(Let me begin by saying I am against using the term First World or Second or Third Worlds. I will write about that somewhere else.) I am sure the First World countries have all the good wishes for the developing countries. They want the best for them. Probably. But maybe that's not enough. Let me cite an example:
Last night I watched an Aussie TV show called The X-Factor. It is basically a talent quest where four judges take on a few artists each and prepare them for a clash to compete for the X-Factor title. In the show the artists put up very impressive performances, and it is always interesting to see how different judges always have something different to say. For example, Guy Sebastian, one of the judges, is normally a nice guy, but when it concerned an artist who didn't belong in his camp he would point out mistakes and make it more glaring than he would otherwise. He claimed he had best intentions and only pointed them out so they could learn from it; but really?
It is like that for First and Third World countries. They always have best intentions, but it is more convenient for them to point out mistakes and flaws and make them feel better about themselves than to be completely honest and constructive.
There are million other reasons why India should be in the news apart from this Commonwealth hype. There are million other reasons why Rwanda should be in the news apart from the history of massacre and its recovery aided by the West. There are million other reasons why Iran should be in the news apart from President Ahmadimejad challenging the USA at world summits and its nuclear proliferation issues. There are million other reasons why Kazakhstan should be in the news apart from that arse Sasha Baron Cohen making idiots out of its people. In fact Pakistan, despite one-thirdth of its population affected by the worst ever flood disaster in its history, is hardly in the news.
To me, the words 'First World' and 'Third World' spell INJUSTICE. I am not saying it is unnecessary, and am not ruling out the primary reason why they were first coined (which I am sure were for noble reasons) but they have been too misused by now to a point where it has become intimidating.
Image is very important for a country. For a long time India's image was of a mystical, oriental and spiritual nation where people come and have an 'experience'. People in NZ (just citing an example) think of India rigged by bullock carts, diseases, Arabian-Nightsy buildings and Indian people. (How far have we progressed from pre-colonial days when they thought the same too?) In the same way people in India don't even know where NZ is. If they do, they think it is rigged by rabbits, kiwis, sheep and open countryside.
For a developing nation like India and China, image is very very important. This is because they are trying to sell themselves to more clients like a starting business would.
The last thing they need is a news reporter from one of the 'First Worlds' who succeeded to smuggle in bomb equipments to the game village in Delhi just to prove to the rest of the world just how stupid and bad the security is. That's just sad behaviour. It could be justified by media rights/law and it might be even legal. But it just is not nice. Just sad.
PS. I mean, if I want to rub it in I could very much do a show of India's achievements here that pushes the country forward than many others. Haha!
• 60% of all iPhone applications are developed in India
• India has two national Fashion Weeks (last time I checked, two years ago) in Mumbai and Delhi every year
• India produces the cheapest car in the world
• Indian company Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover and owns them now
• India is one of the few nuclear powers
• India's economy growth rate is +8% and UK's is -4%, USA's is -2%, NZ's is -1.4
• Ruling India (being the Prime Minister) is considered one of the toughest jobs in the world considering the growth that India is going through, the massive population, the diversity of people groups, management of resources, contentions from neighbouring countries, to name just a few.