Tropic of Capricorn
Whats it about? Tropic of Capricorn,the latest travelogue/documentary being aired on BBC,is a spectacular four-part series that maps 20,000 mile journey along the Tropic of Capricorn. Passing through the massive continents of South America,Africa and Australia,the line in the Southern hemisphere of the earth,traverses some of the most beautiful,yet desolate,parched parts of the planet. Ironically,these also happen to be home to some of the poorest people,living in the harshest environments this planet has to offer. The journey begins on the sand dunes of Namibia,where youngster sport enthusiasts are sand-boarding,doing their bit to promote tourism,in the slowly growing nation.
Whos in it? British writer and television host Simon Reeve presents a uniquely sensitive and inclusive travelogue,with special focus on people marginalised by State propagated development initiatives,which include everything from diamond mining in Botswana to shutting down of an
asbestos mining town in the Australian outback. Reeves specialisation in international terrorism and conflict resolution,combined with BBCs cautious objectivity present an extraordinary journey into communities and cultures that stand the risk of extinction. Reeve is the winner of the One World Broadcasting Trust Award for an outstanding contribution to greater world understanding.
Whats hot? While travelling across the outback,Reeve visits Aboriginal settlements that are at the heart of a controversy in Australia. With a history of violent invasion by white,European settlers,the Australian government has been engaging in the rehabilitation of the original ancestors of Australia,for many years. But the uprooting from traditional ways of life and integration into a fast growing,consumer society is not easy. Ignored by the state and policed by military,Reeve exclaims that the deprivation in the aboriginal community is of third world proportions.
Whats not? BBCs extreme objectivity doesnt always pay off. There is a sense of wonder in Reeves face as he sees visits the huge crater-like diamond mine in Botswana. A girls best friends,he says parroting the Government line is the secret behind Botswanas prosperity. Wonder if he would say the same if he visited Karnatakas environmentally hazardous iron ore mines. But then,we see later,as he travels through the countryside,that there might be a point to the mining. He hitches a ride with a band of people in a mini-van,who travel along the highway to guide away cattle straying on to the road thereby avoiding accidents. When did we ever have that in India?
Should you be watching it? The forthcoming episodes in conflict ridden Zimbabwe,Mozambique and onward to Australia,and then Chile and Brazil in South America,will be equally revealing about the far-away corners of the Earth. Reeve concludes his Australia episode with a remark about the universal resonance of problems he has seen in specific communities. But the show is also revealing of the highly globalised motions on the planet as we see Chinese contractors in a brick factory in Namibia,or an Australian truck-driver talk about the surging Chinese Indian economies to which his own country aspires.