Wednesday, January 27, 2010

About colonial hangovers

What does it mean to be Indian? What does it mean to be Western? Only 100 years ago, non-English people the world over had a chip on their shoulders about not being English; they were forever trying to compensate for their lack of Englishness. Today people can't get enough of the American accent (or is that too changing as we speak?). Only recently did a very good friend of mine pose the question, "why is India becoming a slutty version of America?"

This week, with the Indian constitution celebrating its 60th birthday, every Indian is pondering how far India has come and where it's going in the future, and more than a few people seem to be voicing their concerns about the Indian identity...even Mark Tully. Their observation, like my good friend's, is that the Indian youth is chucking its roots to mindlessly ape what it thinks the West is from what it sees of it in the media. Young Indian people have started mutating into apna versions of 'Sex in the City', cosmos and all. Even the Indian entertainment industry hasn't been immune to it, but that isn't saying much.

The West isn't really what you see on TV. Assuming that Hollywood represents real America is just as laughable (and the laughs keep coming) as assuming that Bollywood represents real India. Rather, the essence of America, the real juice that the Indian youth should passionately be gulping down instead of imported Bud Lights, is its discipline, confidence, and love of efficiency. America isn't the greatest country in the world because of its discos and Happy Hours. Real Americans, the one that have kept America's cogs running straight into superpower-ness, are greatly turned off by tardiness, and unprofessionalism. Real Americans start working in their teens and try to honestly earn their way to the American dream. Real Americans reward initiative and encourage effort. Real Americans consider plagiarism the ultimate crime. That is not the America you see on TV. Heck, even the Americans don't like what they see on their own TVs.

Young people in India and around the world think that being Western, i.e. being advanced and cool, is about wearing Western clothing, eating Western food, speaking Western languages, and especially drinking & partying like the gora people. My wish is for these young people to realise that the people who make the West what it is party only in direct proportion to the constructive work they sincerely put into the system. The real cool people are always too busy for hangovers.

1 comment:

Graduate Student said...

You said it sistah! I couldn't agree more.

On the flip side, I do see a culture of hard work cropping up in India, though not honesty quite yet, but maybe this is part of the evolution of a colonial hangover, and at some point we will actually imbibe the best qualities of the west rather than the dubious ones..!