Monday, August 28, 2006

Blogging at its best?

I'm interrupting the "Consumerism in India: A Faustian Bargain?" series because I came across a post today at a now defunct blog called Subehshaam that should be read widely. The post is titled "dekho sabse sasta wallah" (the cheapest one), and retells the story of an exchange between the blogger and an autowallah.

I think it's vital that bloggers remember that we're all talking to people similarly privileged (either by birth, hard work, or a combination of both). When we read debates about whether India's growing economy is or is not benefiting the millions of Indians living in poverty, the voices we never hear are those whose present conditions and future hopes we are debating. An example of such a debate can be found in Nitin's "Puncture Mishra" post at The Indian Economy Blog and the 46 comments that followed.

The blogger relating the conversation with the autowallah has helped remind us all how important it is that we hear not just each other, but also the voices of the autowallah's, and everyone else trying to make a living and make sense out of the changes India is going through.

The following part of the conversation, which began with the driver saying to the blogger "I have never understood why you all argue with us over 5-10 rupees," best illustrates my point:
Finally, I asked, "Uncle, aap yeh lecture har savaari ko dete hain, zyada paise lene ke liye ya mujhe hee diya hai?" (Do you give this lecture to all your customers to get more money, or just me?" He said, "Meri baat sirf haqeeqat hai, aap samjhne na ya samajhe." (My talk is only reality, regardless whether you understand it or not."
Do we understand his reality? And perhaps as important, is our talk, all our blogging, a meaningful reality?

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