The ‘Slumdog’ effect

The Slumdog Millionaire movie has certainly caused a stir and not just because it picked up all the gongs on Oscars night. I have not seen it yet, but my lunch partner disclosed, in between mouthfuls of his naan and dahl, that he could not sit through the whole thing because of the poverty porn factor. His complaint is that the portrayal of the slum dwellers is demeaning in that it does not convey the self-respect that these people have. He also rages at the inactivity of the wealthy to right the obvious wrongs in Indian society, given 80 percent of Indians live on less than $2 per day. This sentiment is conveyed in an excellent piece in the International Herald Tribune today by Anand Giridharadas who points out that ‘ … economic development is not Photoshop. There is a difference between making poverty history and making the mention of poverty history’.