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America needs to actually understand what India is

Actress Rachel Bloom feels that Americans are not really getting into heart of what it is in India

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New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) She has never been to India but is not oblivious to Indian culture as she calls it a vast cauldron. Golden Globe-winning actress Rachel Bloom points out that many facets of the country are entering foreign shores in a “trendy” but false manner. People in the West are “not really getting into the heart of what it is in India”, she added.

Asked about what all Bloom, who won the Best Actress in a TV Series – Comedy for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”- earlier this year, has heard about Indian culture, she said: “It’s too vast”.

“But I think that there is something that Americans do, you know you take the example of yoga. I know that in India it’s much more kind of humble and a sacred practice, but here it’s kind of commoditised,” Bloom told IANS on the phone from Los Angeles.

She added: “We sell fancy clothes to wear to yoga classes for $20 or $30 or $40… it is kind of like a rich elitist thing and I know that that isn’t the case in India. It’s like we have taken some things that are sacred and humble in India and we’ve made them trendy here in ways that are false and not really getting into the heart of what it is in India.”

Bloom, apart from being the lead actress of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” has also created the musical-comedy-drama series along with Aline Brosh McKenna.

The show, which has been renewed for its second season, has entered the Indian shores with season one. It is being aired in India on Star World and Star World HD.

Bloom, who rose to fame in the virtual world with her musical and comedic skills via YouTube videos, says she is “aware” about the world of Bollywood, which is oft known for painting the big screen canvas with myriad hues of feelings along with music and dance.

Bloom said: “I love Bollywood. First of all, our editor of ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’, he is an Indian and his whole family actually is in India and works in Bollywood. And so, we have a very natural Bollywood tie at ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ with our editor Kabir Aktar. And secondly, I think it’s wonderful because in America the art of a film musical has really softened up.

“In the second episode, we have a Bollywood number. The Bollywood number is sung by a yoga teacher, it’s kind of making fun of Americans and what they think Indian culture is as opposed to what Indian culture actually is. So we’re doing homage to Bollywood and making fun of Americans through all the ways they represent Indian culture in the second episode.”

The show narrates story of a successful New York lawyer Rebecca Bunch, who decides to follow her ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, to suburban West Covina, California. It accounts her romantic rendezvous in a hilarious manner interwoven with the use of music.

The actress says she has “always thought music is one of the first and most efficient forms of storytelling there is”.

She said: “Because, every song has an essential statement, which is the chorus. Every song has a very specific idea it’s trying to get across and then build on around idea. It is a very clear form of storytelling. It also gives us an insight into characters’ emotional space and is probably better than dialogues, since you know all the words aren’t there when you are emotional, you sing.”

Bloom also confessed that “Aline wanted to do this movie called ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ and incidentally ended up writing a TV show”.

Ask her about the USP of the show, she says it can’t “really be compared to the other shows” as “there is so much good television out there. I am personally overwhelmed with what to watch” and “it’s getting harder and harder to compare television shows because we’re into major television here with all these different networks, shows are getting more and more specific”. (Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at sugandha.r@ians.in)

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  • chakrs

    The title has little to do with the article.

  • Pritam Go Green

    Americans should know the fact that we Indians possess very large and kind heart. They should stop selling jets to Pakistan and should cooperate with India. We all know India is a emerging superpower in Asia region. Even U.S needs us for dealing with China.

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  • chakrs

    The title has little to do with the article.

  • Pritam Go Green

    Americans should know the fact that we Indians possess very large and kind heart. They should stop selling jets to Pakistan and should cooperate with India. We all know India is a emerging superpower in Asia region. Even U.S needs us for dealing with China.

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

Also Read: British Parliament Access Internal Facebook Data Scandal Papers: Report

Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)