Welcome to India
Wednesday, 9.35pm, SBS One Incredibly, with the world’s population at 7 billion, one in six people lives in India. The idea behind this documentary series, debuting tonight, is that we must all learn to live in close proximity to others. No country on earth has achieved this as well as India. Yes, necessity is the mother of invention, but the program aims to demonstrate that no matter how dense the crowd, you can still carve out a home. In tonight’s debut episode we follow a 23-year-old man who has ventured forth from the country to the city of Kolkata. Imran lives in a crumbling house in the heart of the city’s jewellery making district. If you thought conditions in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel were challenging, you should see the way the real people live. And yet, just as in that film, there exists a great beauty that is not always immediately accessible to the western eye. Gold, it turns out, is the insurance policy of Indians. According to this documentary, Indian housewives hold 11 per cent of the world’s gold stocks. That’s more than the reserves of the US, Germany, Switzerland and the IMF put together. However, any notion of citizens there dripping in the stuff should be immediately dispelled. The characters we meet prefer to sleep on the hard, rat-infested streets than in their crowded, stifling rooms. This is a fascinating excursion into one of the globe’s most unique human situations.