Slumlord Billionaire

There’s an interesting news article in the Times of India, “Congress counts 8 Oscars as part of UPA `achievements’” (Hat tip: Sudipta Chatterjee.)

Keen to be part of the euphoric `Slumdog’ bandwagon, Congress has counted the eight Oscars as part of the UPA’s `achievements’. The party lost no time in claiming credit for the `Indian triumph’ and hinted that good times had come with the UPA government.

Danny Boyle is not Indian though the slums most certainly are. So I suppose anyone claiming credit for the Oscars won by a movie set in the Mumbai slums is proudly displaying their role in creating the slums that made the movie possible.

Slums are one of the many visible consequence of extreme urban poverty. Poverty is one of the most predictable consequence of failed economic policies. Economic policies are dictated by governments. India has been governed by Congress governments (or Congress led governments) for most of its existence.

The above argument validates the Congress-led UPA government’s claim that it is responsible for the making of the movie — however indirectly.

People at the helm of the various governments of India have over the decades made tens of billions of dollars and created the conditions for over half a billion people to have to survive in less than a dollar a day. The governments of India are really slumlord billionaires.

They did create slums and made billions. The story continues. MJ Akbar writes in The Pioneer (Feb 22nd) that “During UPA rule, 55 million pushed below poverty line.”

The UPA Government, through its economic spokesman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has sold us the bait that poverty has gone down under its watch. Fact: The number of people living below the poverty line has actually increased by a horrifying 20 per cent. India had some 270 million people below the poverty line in 2004-5, when the present Government took office. That number has gone up by 55 million, or 20 per cent, after five years of policies named after the ‘aam admi’ (common man) but shaped for the ‘khaas admi’ (vested interests).

I think an additional 55 million, thanks to the UPA, will make a lot more slumdogs, don’t you think? Lots more movies, awards, claims about India’s triumph for everybody!

I propose that the next blockbuster movie be titled “Slumlord Billionaire“. You do the casting.

Author: Atanu Dey


7 thoughts on “Slumlord Billionaire”

  1. “Poverty has gone down” perhaps (conveniently but perfectly reasonably) means that the fraction of poor people reduced. From 2004, the number of poor people may have increased by 55M, but the total number of people may have increased by much more than 55M. Apparently the recent annual increase is about 16M, amounting to roughly 64M increase overall since 2004. So MSA could be right with the percentage interpretation. Should any government be charged with the job of decreasing the absolute number of poor people? This is simply absurd in a system where any positive action on part of the government, however rare, is instantly wiped out by population increase. The story of Indian democrazy is clear: it’s all wink-wink, nod-nod between the electorate and politicians; if miraculously the electorate demanded quality today, no one would want to ascend to the throne. No one.


  2. On the first day Slumdog Millionaire was released in Adelaide we went to watch it.

    We were the only Indians in the packed theatre. It was released in this “art cinema theatre” on Rundle St called Palace Nova.

    I was surprised at the full showing.

    Seeing the movie in Australia was a experience by itself. The slums and squalor made me feel ashamed of the current situation. The dire consequences in which people live in India(which most Indians would take it as normal) was shocking to watch with an audience of westerners.

    What I cannot understand in all this is the Euphoria that this is a Indian movie. Frankly, I did like the movie. It was like a bollywood movie.

    However, why is this considered even an Indian movie? An Indian movie would be featured in the “Foreign film” section of the Oscars. Because this is a British movie it was even in contention in the Oscars.

    The UPA govt. has not many achievements to talk about and has to resort to the British film Oscars as their achievements.

    A bunch of jokers.


  3. Thanks atanu for this post slumdog is the talk of at least most of bombay dont know about india.People are wrongly proud of it ,it is not an Indian flim just like 1982 Gandhi.But when we have got very little to be proud of in india we look to ‘NRI Success stories’ or ‘slumdog oscars’ etc.It celebrates not india, but the shame and embarrassment of india.As long as our population does not stop growing(17 Million added each year) i dont see india getting any better.


  4. An Indian movie would be featured in the “Foreign film” section of the Oscars.

    worldisgreen, any movie in any language and from any country that has been released in the US during a specific time-period and had at least a one-week run is eligible for Oscar nominations, but the producers have to nominate it first – movies are not automatically nominated. The foreign film category is specifically for non-English language films, and the nominations are sent in by the country, not the producers. The same film can be nominated in “Best Foreign Film” as well as “Best Film” categories. Whether it makes the final cut to be in the top 5 final nominations in a category depends on how the Academy members vote. But those members do have a bias towards English-language films simply because that happens to be their first language. It also requires a lot of PR work to “sell” a film as Oscar-worthy, and behind-the-scenes machinations would likely not be palatable.


  5. That’s a nice analysis of government behavior. I recall that some Indians had adverse reactions to the film for displaying India in a “bad light”, but I’m sure there is less of a protest against winning awards.


  6. As I was driving down to office, a small boy with one broken arm and a broken leg banged on my car window. My eyes ran behind him after giving him the Rupee he awaited for. To me what I saw was the broken Indian future which is the reality. After 60 years of Independence, we celebrate our failures in the name of Oscar successes. The whole system is a failure, as long as we have small infants towed in the arms of children, begging on streets, millions of people living in pavements and railway stations, and still some villages not have basic infrastructure like water and electricity. This is the reality, this is the truth. which the government sitting in luxury paved by the tax payers money, or the politicians high on the corruption will never understand. you cannot feel the heat, unless you go in sun. I dont think the cosy reviewers, or the governments ever even think of gullible public. Its devastating to know that we do not know to respect ourselves and want to view the change through the eyes of a foreigner.
    Millions of children do not have homes, lot many do not have basic food and clothing. Does any one really care to rehabilitate them and bring a dawn in their real lives???? Its an everlasting questions. Elections come and go but nothing changes in India. Sad Reality


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