TV Specials “India Rising” – The Bad & The Ugly – PBS – Paul Beban

On Sunday, June 22, the PBS show “Now” aired its documentary about India called “India Rising.”

Rarely can a show be called both Bad and Ugly. The PBS “India Rising” show justifies both adjectives.

It has been a tradition in certain circles of America to call Television the “Idiot Box” and to look down on people who watch TV. This “pretentiously intellectual” tradition makes an exception for PBS, the public Television Network which was supposedly created to rise above the din and banality of cable television.

Parts of America and, New York City in particular, also boast of the tradition of limousine liberalism. People who live very well (mainly due to inheritance) and profess deep empathy for those who are less fortunate; people who extol the virtues of public schools but send their own children to elite private schools and so on.

Let us call the combination – Pretentiously Intellectual Limousine Liberal – by its initials “PILL“.  In the interests of brevity, we shall use this acronym PILL or its plural PILLs in the rest of this article.

In our opinion, the”India Rising” show of PBS is a documentary of the PILLs, by the PILLs and exclusively for the PILLs.

The ultimate sign of the PILLs is their core conviction that they are some how uniquely blessed and it is their “burden”, as it were, to show empathy for the less fortunate. But, this attitude changes instantly to anger if the less fortunate come close to achieving the same status as the blessed class of PILLs.

This PILL anger and “how dare they” outlook pervades this PBS documentary. It is couched in a “thoughtful” sense of concern for the world’s resources, At one point in the show, Beban asks explicitly:

  •  “Can the world afford a middle class in India?”
Beban, like many of the PILLs cohort, uses the word “world” to mean the “European Class“. The fact that the majority of the real world lives in Asia is not relevant to the “world” of the PILLs.

Paul Beban asks at the end:

  • Are we, in a sense, paying a price for setting an example that is really not sustainable for the world?
So there you are, the proverbial burden of the PILLs! Paul Beban seems to suggest that the PILLs set an example with the best of intentions and, out of their misplaced goodness, created a monster that is not sustainable for the “world” of the PILLs. 

What is this example? Paul Beban asks during the show:

  •  “Is there an Indian dream like there is an American dream?
Then in trying to appear objective, Beban explains the terrible actions of Indians by telling his viewers:

  • “The citizens of India say they only want what developed nations already have, a chance at the good life”. 
He immediately follows this “objectivity” by his main complaint :

  • ” Indians are not about to put a brake on their own ambitions just to make American lives easier”.
This anti-globalization message of the PILLs is based on their core notion of race/class entitlement and a fundamental ignorance of human development. Beban tries to establish a pseudo-scientific basis for his PILLism by showing covers of neo-Malthusian books, books that argue that resources of the world are finite and the rise of India, China is occurring at the expense of the Europeans.

We believe we have demonstrated why we call this show Ugly.  We also call it Bad because the show is plain dumb.  There are other shows on Television that preach similar messages but they do it cleverly and with an element of sensible articulation. Paul Beban and David Brancaccio (who introduces the show and whose name is on “NOW”) have produced a show that is void of any sense of skill or deftness.

We encourage all readers to watch this show at .

If you think we are wrong in our analysis of this documentary, tell us frankly by sending us an email to [email protected].

If you concur with us, tell your PBS station how you feel explicitly.

This show advertises its sponsors to be:

  • Orfalea Family Foundation

  • Park Foundation

  • marguerite casey foundation

  • The Nathan Cummings Foundation

  • cs fund/warsh-mott legacy

  • desJardins/Blachman Fund AND

  • Viewers who contribute to PBS.

So, if you are a viewer of PBS who contributes to PBS, you are responsible for this documentary.

In the tradition of this blog and on its behalf, we extend an open invitation to PBS, David Brancaccio and Paul Beban to send us their response. We shall print it verbatim.

Send your feedback to [email protected]