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   McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
23 Nov 2010

Drawing room spiritualism

Like insurance, faith has become a matter of drawing room solicitation. Be it saffron robed Swami Ramdev or superstar evangelist Joel Osteen, faith of all hues are on display over the convenience of a television screen in the drawing room. The press of a remote button opens window to the world of emerging telefaith, a marketplace of spirituality of least resistance which is producing ‘consumer worshippers’ rather than worshippers ‘consumed with God’.

McDonaldisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics looks at globalization from a cultural and religious standpoint. Backed by content analysis of two each of the Christian and the Hindu television channels, research for the book was followed by interviews with middle-level priests in Mumbai and Hyderabad. What emerges is a cutting edge research, providing insightful reading on the development of telefaith within India and around the world.

As mediated religions gain new foothold, faith is finding strange bedfellows in politics and the capitalist market. Not only does control over airwaves connect to the world of marketing and finance, the new links create political economies that support and sustain the religious media enterprises. High-profile televangelist, Ramdev who teaches and demonstrates his breath control techniques, has cashed in on television to build a huge religious enterprise.

But televangelism has reduced faith to a commodity for the calculating consumer. No wonder, the phenomenal following of some of the tele-gurus like Swami Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar could be attributed to the medical bills that are impossibly high for the middle class in the event of an illness. It is no coincidence therefore that a large number of those taking part in healing crusades hope to be healed for free.

The growth of telefaith, the author asserts, may imply that the media will simply be a venue for the fragmentation of faiths, where multiple faiths are ‘narrow casted’ to specific interest groups, with various religions in a state of co-existence. However, the crucial question is whether global communication will co-create a world where multiple religions co-exist or will it create a world of homogenized global cultures?

As powerful generators of cultural meanings, religious media and mediatised religion have tremendous potential for generating strong identities that can have powerful implications for either understanding or misunderstanding, peace for conflict. If handled without care, the media could inadvertently become the venue for ‘clash of civilizations’, the book concludes.

McDonalisation, Masala McGospel and Om Economics
by Jonathan D. James; Sage; 232 pages, Rs 595

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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