Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rhetoric vs. Reality unifies?

I like the Economist magazine...its not afraid of having a strong opinion. Not that I readily agree with their arguments but no one can accuse them of not taking a stand. For instance, they write about Al Jazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net/), one of the supposedly few independent media networks in the Gulf States as a natural unifier in a region that is seen as much fragmented. It is a fascinating argument of how a media network scales itself across the world now, by creating a sense of unity and identity through its rhetoric of shared Middle East concerns. Of course, the problem here is that the Economist, when it talks of the "fragmented Arab nations" implicitly reinforces such stereotypes of this region in a constant state of flux. Even though we all know that the State is not necessarily a representative of its people, we see this constantly at play when we talk of nations. Middle eastern leaders of States may not be able to work together or be united in a cause perhaps, but this should not imply that people across these States are not tied deeply by common interests and values, even spanning across these States to other regions, the "West" included.
In context with "Asia" for instance, there is an argument that the age old "divide and conquer" colonial strategy worked in fragmenting Asian societies. This has some credence. It has taken awhile to trust and partner with neigboring States, like India with China even though they can potentially be powerful partners in trade, commerce and more. But one should give enough acknowledgement to the deep challenge that is posed in balancing interests of global competition with cooperation...that is truly a learning curve considering there is little history to back such practices. If we are to identify a media "unifier" amongst Asia, perhaps Bollywood has an answer...SRK posters in Peru, Kenya and Cuba tell a story...when we speak of unification of people, we can be jointly entertained while sharing different politics and values...