Piece Comment

Review of India Rising, program four: Can It All Hang Together?

This is excellent journalism and very good radio. In this segment of the BBC's series on the new India, George Arney explores some of the downsides of India's industrialization and booming wealth. There's pollution, deep inequality, social upheaval.

The program itself manages to hang together very well, despite being recorded almost entirely in the field. As in most news documentaries, the host-presenter is ever-present, setting scenes and providing context and connecting tissue. But while that's typically done in the studio after the fact, Arney seemingly does it all on the fly. In one "scene," for instance, Arney catalogs a range of fissures in Indian society by noisily paging through a newspaper in a coffee shop and crisply summarizing illustrative stories from that day's news.

I haven't listened to the entire series, but in this half-hour Arney comes across an intelligent and fair reporter who digs into complexities rather than flattening them. He gives voice to those losing out in globalized India, but also challenges the critics and keeps his eye on the millions of Indians who've moved out of poverty in recent years. A smart, important and insightful project--one I'd certainly want my local station to run.