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The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India by Siddhartha Deb- An Analysis by Kristyn A. Stone
Book Review: The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India
Siddhartha Deb writes “The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India ” to show the stereotypes people have about India, while also showing how life in India is actually far from the ideals that many people think of. He is from India, and he therefore has an in-depth knowledge of India’s inside information, so he shows how India is becoming more globalized and modern while still retaining the complex cultural system of caste and status. Throughout the book, the author encounters different types of people, from the rich to the poor and from the famous to insignificant. Even though some of the people would be considered not important to people who view India from the outside, he shows how they are actually very significant in interpreting the daily lives of Indians all over the country.
In the introduction of the book, he goes through his own life and what he has gone through to get where he is in the present. He is a journalist turned novelist, and met many people and challenges on his way. The introduction is very technical with not much of a storyline like most fiction novels. In many instances, he alludes to the face of India as being happy and prosperous in opposition to the normal lives that most Indian people lead. In some of the first situations he gives, he tries to show the face of the modernizing India. With the up and coming jobs like the telemarketers, he enlightens readers on the importance of job security. The telemarketers go through a lot to obtain and keep their job, but they think that the money is worth it. Many people go without electricity throughout certain times of the day, but they make what they consider ‘good money’ by working these long hours and because it is a new age type of job.
In India, if you are not born into privilege, you are struggling somehow. The Gatsby-like guy that he encounters produces big budget movies that no one hardly watches. He also runs a school that is not recognized by the government. He promises future students many things including a trip to Europe and a new laptop for everyone. Rahul tells Deb that in Arindam Chardhuri’s school, the students pay seven lakhs (hundred thousand), and that the operating cost of schools are low. He goes on to say “…you know how much teachers get paid in India. So, the money gets spun off into other businesses (p. 31).” This shows just how much big-business privileged people take advantage of the other working citizens of India. Teachers, who should be the heart of countries are paid such a little wage. Even though they have to have certain qualifications to be able to teach. It’s far worse than America, even though it can be seen that the 1% hold most of the money, while the other 99% struggle. Whereas the wage gap in America is widening, the economic gap in India is already very wide.
Another economic absurdity is the case he encountered with the migrant workers working in the factory. In America, and many other first-world countries, there are laws in place to help workers. Some of these laws include: maximum working hours, overtime pay, no children workers, and etc. However, the factory that Deb encountered seemed to break every law that most people take for granted. Not only this, but when he was given permission to talk to the workers, the workers did not want to tell him about their situation. Many of the workers were illegal—Muslims coming from Bangladesh or children. These people worked many hours, and some of them lived on fifty cents a day. They were also refused some government assistance. This just shows the wide gap between what is shown in the media about India vs what is the norm in the country.
Even besides economics, Deb also gives insight into a small scene that he encountered. The police were looking for someone, but they were doing it illegally. They were stopped by a man without uniform, holding a pistol (instead of a rifle). Deb’s friend concluded that the target “would probably be gunned down in cold blood, with a report released later to the media to say that the person had been killed in an active encounter and that he had shot first at the police (p. 166).” Even in his title “The Beautiful and the Damned,” he is taking a look at India through stories of the beautiful people (the rich, entrepreneurs, and the powerful), and also through the eyes of the damned (the poor, migrant workers, and people who are not moving up in life no matter how hard they try).
Even in Esther’s case, she studied biochemistry in college, and then went on to get a master’s degree in botany; she wanted to be a doctor. However, she chose the food industry because it meant that she still thought she had opportunities to come. She kept speaking about if she was home, she would be married with two kids, and that would be it. However, she has to take three different modes of transportation and thirty rupees just to get to a job that makes her work from twelve to two in the morning. It can be seen that her situation is not abnormal. Many people work hard to gain an education because they have dreams, while in reality, only a few people make it to the upper classes of the world. Esther takes care of her sisters and brother. She also talks about how the men in her family (and around her) stay at home while the women work. The men want to find “the right job” rather than just any old job. In contrast, Esther has worked many jobs, and she is not scared to do the dirty work that others refuse to do. There is not just a contrast between classes or cast in India, but there is a wide contrast between the sexes still. Deb mentions “the warmth and hospitality the sisters displayed was characteristic of the north-east, but it was the urban anonymity of Delhi that had allowed them to entertain me, a man from a different ethnic group, in their house (p. 226).”
All in all, Siddhartha’s book enlightens the readers on the real world of India. He characterizes many people and he even mentions that he knows he could never compile the whole of India by only alluding to the lives of five people. He does, however, mention other people and their lives to try and compensate for the loss of substance. India is a huge country, with millions of people. It would be like trying to speak about the whole of America by only representing five of its people. However, he does give a great insight to people who have never traveled there, or for people who have left but forgotten what India was really like for the average person. He makes sure to note many things that India needs to work on. His novel is a loud cry for change in India. He knows that life is not fair or even close to fair, even though the Indian media portrays these happy faces to the outside world. He makes sure to give the reader a sense of what is actually happening inside of the country, and the changes that imminently need to occur to better the lives of the citizens.
Deb, Siddhartha. (2011). The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India. New York, NY: Faber and Faber, Inc.
Go to google, type “murder by Muslim 2016,” and you’ll get thousands of results.
Now, go to google, type “murder by [insert other religion] 2016,” yea..kinda hard to find, right?
These kind of search results make me sick. I would rather not judge the whole on the actions of a few. It’s also saying that the murders all over the world that have occurred in 2016 were either by Muslims or atheist. This is simply not the case. There are bad people in every religion. There are terrible groups in religions that claim to be following the religion. This isn’t speculation, this is fact.
LISTEN TO THE FACTS, PEOPLE!
Stop being sheep and following the media/masses. Research. Don’t believe everything that you read or see on TV and the internet.
Just because someone claims to be Muslim does NOT mean that they follow Islam. I am a Muslim. I have read the Quran. I am an American. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, and so on (as far back as we know) are/were American. (I’m not sure where I’m originally from.) I am white. I do NOT want to kill ANYONE for ANY reason–gay, black, white, Christian, Hindu, Mexican, Purple, Yellow, Satan-worshiper, etc. I AM the majority.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims on the Earth. If Muslims wanted to kill you, you’d know it. There would be no debate on TV about whether Islam is good or bad.
Even if there were 16,000 terrorist attacks each year, which there’s not, that would still be less than .001% of the Muslim population. Are you really going to judge 1.6 billion people on the actions of a few?
Debate Review: “What Was The True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples?” – Br. Ijaz Ahmad vs Rev. Steven Martins
I’m so happy that I’ve found this post. I converted to Islam last year, and this will help me explain some things to my *very unhappy* parents. Thank you.
I review a debate entitled “What Was The True Faith of Jesus’ Disciples?”
Br. Ijaz Ahmad of Calling Christians
Rev. Steven Martins of Nicene International Ministries Canada.
I did the bulk of the review a while ago but never managed to finish it in the detail I would have liked but never got back to it through procrastination and other priorities I’ve quickly tidied up what I had and rolled it out.
“None of the Apostles could have written or sanctioned these stories about themselves” – Ijaz Ahmad
Were the Gospel Accounts eye-witness reports
Steven Martins’ approach was to draw upon the New Testament in his attempt to present what he believes the disciples believed. Steven believes the Gospels are the historical eye-witness records of the disciples. This was rejected outright by Ijaz Ahmad who pointed out the 4 Gospels were not contemporary to Jesus p and nor…
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Many people do not read the actual texts of religion, but go by what others say. It’s the easy way. However, if you look at Christian, Jewish, and Muslim holy text, there are MUCH more similarities than differences, even when the topic is killing, adultery, and blasphemy.
Islam fear-mongering and Islamophobia have become so desensitized in American society and media that almost anyone who is called out for his or her crazed attack on an entire religion is able to hide behind the idea that it is free speech, or the “truth” that “must be said.” It is sad that actor Ben Affleck has become a symbol in this battle against this anger and hate after he spoke out against Bill Maher and Sam Harris after they spouted generalizations and Islamophobic sentiments on Real Time with Bill Maher last year.
It is time we look at how the world deals with Islam and Muslims, in America and elsewhere. Too often there is a concerted effort to attack anyone who says anything bordering on being anti-Jewish or anti-Israel. To speak out against the oppression and…
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If you can’t make up your mind about the truth of Islam because of how the media portrays it, watch this. It is a fact filled video, with some funny aspects also.
It is truly inspiring. What truly gets me is when he said, IF there were 16,000 suicide bombers in the world that bombed in the name of Islam, that is still only 00.01%. What about the other 99.99% of Muslims?
What about the everyday Muslims with families, jobs, dreams, and thoughts just like everyone else’s?
Note: This is article is by no means to disrespect Christian or Judaic brethren/sisters or their Faith. I only endeavoured to write this article because of some extremist Christians and Jews who charge the Islamic faith with deception – that Islam as a religion sanctions lying in all circumstances, a claim which has no backing from Islamic scripture. I have already responded to these claims in the following Link: Response To ‘Taqiyya’ Deception – Lying.
I have carried out a thorough examination on verses in the Old Testament and New Testament on whether lying is allowed. The verses I encountered shows that deception and lying is permitted in certain situations. The circumstances in which the verses show that one can utter falsehood are the following:
– Lying in order to save innocent lives from being killed
– Using deception in war so as to get…
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“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62)
“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62)– I love this.
I spent half of the night writing these words, under the pale moonlight 🙂
It is my belief that Islam goes beyond mere tolerance towards other faiths. In my understanding of it, it goes beyond tolerance and establishes universalism.
I write these words in the hope that they can help to build bridges between people of different faiths and backgrounds, all in the spirit of goodwill and unity.
So with an open heart and mind, I invite you to read my analysis of 16 verses from the Holy Koran that I believe are key in planting the seeds of peace and understanding.
“And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them” (35:24)
I choose to start off with this verse because it clearly states in plain words that all people have received a warner. “And there is not a people” is not confined to…
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Over the past six months, new experts on Islam have crept into the forefront, doing their best to deliver an image of ISIS as something borne out of Islamic society, as if ISIS can speak for Muslims across the world. Sadly, the vast majority of these pundits are white, American, and not Muslim. The attacks on Islam have come from across the spectrum, from atheists such as Bill Maher and his tirade against Muslims that led to Ben Affleck’s shocking rebuttal on Maher’s Real Time Friday HBO show, to former Muslims and staunch Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s calls for an Islamic reformation. While everyone has a right to voice their opinion, however lacking in substance and depth, most often they derive from one hatred of Islam or another.
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