Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why are we going American?

Of late I have noticed that across the globe people prefer to acquire the American accent, tune their songs in the American Rock style and even adapt to the American style of living. There's nothing wrong or right about it but the only issue is that the traditional value systems and the deep rooted cultures are getting obliterated. The British ruled us and taught us a language which gave us confidence to internationalise ourselves, but I think what kept us bound were our traditional values. Though the Japs and the Brits were similarly holding on to their value systems, they too are round the corner and adapting fast to Americanisation. The Germans and other Europeans are towing the line. Have you heard a Chinese speak English? It appears that they have rolled out of Boston or Louisiana. I can understand if someone has to, day in and day out interact with Americans, say, such as a BPO, but I do not see any justification in Radio Jockeys or TV Anchors acquiring that style...even the dressing sense!! Talking about dressing sense, well, women do not need a dress any more!! They are better equipped otherwise. No offence meant to the fairer sex, but we all are learning to accept nudity in various 'forms'. Stimulation towards sex is only in regression for reasons of stress coming to us with consumerism (part of Americanisation), added by phenomena such as these.
I am a consultant in the corporate world offering my services in various areas and to my delight I find manufacturing is still untouched with this element. It strongly is feeling its presence in IT and ITES. The Retail sector is getting swayed into it for reasons of consumerism; shoppers are mostly from the IT and ITES. Perhaps the only advantage that I am deriving, is to get to observe that the generation X was deprived of any attitude of diffidence towards the Euro-Americans! I pray to the Almighty to bring in more such advantages notwithstanding the fact that it should be more pervasive and make inroads to the rural and agrarian sectors as well.


Abhi said...

What I think is, the basic characteristic of Indian culture is to adopt new knowledge & be adaptable to the change, in order to survive in the highly competitive environment. We had read about the osmosis, i.e. the fluid move from high concentration area to area of low concentration. Same thing is applied to knowledge, culture, behaviour, etc. as well. The instance of Indians getting attracted to American culture, as they find it more "open" than the "orthodox" (as they see it) Indian culture, however at the same time, we can find Americans getting attracted to "closely bonded" Indian culture, as they find it more "warm & friendly" than their's, also shows the same funda. What I want to point out is, in this era of globalisation, no culture or country can be left alone or can survive alone, so we expect such changes to take place as per the basic fundamental of osmosis. What we need to check is that in this process we must not loose our own basic identity, & this is our moral responsibility to cultivate proper values & knowledge to the coming generation in order to make them fit for survival in global arena & at the same time make them feel attached to their roots, i.e. India.

Mr. Fiero said...

Being Indians, we are brought up with our values, and a feeling of being part of a specific set of people. We have our 'boundaries’ which aim at restricting our actions, sometimes leading us to ask questions on their justification.

We are a country with people who generally have a strong connect with their respective religious beliefs.

Respect for our elders is tremendous in our value system, among so many other things.

The Do's and Don'ts we are supposed to follow in our lives details everything we are supposed to do...

Yes, we may like to agree and appreciate this.

Why are we going American then?

Perhaps what is attracting people to the western culture is their 'freedom'. People have far less boundaries to worry about except for the basic do's and don’ts which are inculcated in them by their peers.

The projected image is that a 'free' country will be void of any kind of threats to the society or to themselves. But as we all see, that's not the case.

Our TV channels are bombarded with Western serials and movies. We like our "Friends" and our "Ally Mcbeal's", and we adore their actors.

We are exposed to the western culture through almost every medium of communication.

Firangi cousins who find the western culture 'oh so cool'; friends and peers aping their dressing styles among many other reasons.

The call center boom having exposed the young to new 'accents', its affect is more prominent now among them.

What can we do about it?

In the end, it’s up to each individual to use his wisdom and make his decisions...

We can't force anyone... But yes, if our roots are strong than we will resist changes to our values, as many people have done and still do.

I myself am averse to the western influence which is strongly questioning and challenging our beliefs and values...

But can I stop its influence on me? Yes, I can. But, can I stop its influence on the society?

I can’t, and I would not like to. We as individuals have to choose between the rights and the wrongs in the end… What’s right for me may or may not be for you.


Arshad Ahmed


People Matter To Me said...

Abhinay and Arshad,
I take immense pride in seeing you applying yourselves to this thought, but the point remains as to how would one define 'freedom'. Ethics tells us that freedom is good as long as it does not hurt someone else's and that is the basic value that we Indians have survived with. What disturbs me is not the freedom but the aftermath. Read the Geeta or the Quran Shareef and they both uphold the rights of freedom, but definitely also go on to say and predict that if certain values were not upheld mankind would face devolution! There is no debate about freedom. However I do not subscribe to the idea of freedom which disregards taking a refined approach against a brash one. An illustration is how the IT & the ITES world have decided to reinvent the wheel, despite so much of data available with 'good old' manufacturing regarding work methods/processes...the American way again because the client companies are not aware of what has gone into the corporate culture already in this country!

Mr. Fiero said...

How do we define freedom?

First of all I kind of disagree to the title "Why are we going American".

It comes across as if being American is the baddest title which can be given to any society...

It's like you are saying to someone with Americanized traits that "You speak like an American, u walk like an American, u behave like an American, Man ur Bad!!"

Who has given us the right to say that?

Even America has its own history and its style of living (however good or bad we may feel about it).

Every civilized nation would like to protect its core values and the intricacies of their culture...

Any external influence which does not match with it would be considered a threat.

Why are the Americans and Britishers worried about the rapidly increasing Asian influence in their countries? Because they again would like to protect their turf...

But it all depends upon how strong our goverment machinery is to stop this influence which is next to impossible in today's time...

Why? Well, with globalisation there has been a free exchange of culture, mannerisms, style of living. So, looking at this, an American travels to be with monks as he has experienced peace there; as he was given an opportunity to find that...

Likewise, people visit foreign shores and bring positive things along with them; its just not about the accent!

As I said what's good for you may not be good for me...

In America, nudity or wearing semi-nude clothes is part of their lifestyle. In India, it's just not acceptable to the society at large.

But at an individual level, maybe some of us aspire to dress like that, may be some of us would really like to be as wild as they are.

Coming back to define freedom, well, even we tend to misuse our freedom to cause more harm than good.

What freedom are we talking about?

Well America, the free country can bombard any other country in the name of "peace" and "terrorists" and kill thousands of people.

But are we different? We in the name of freedom destroy mosques and mandirs, can give hurting speeches against another community and specifically target them in genocide like activities.

Our police has the "freedom" to encounter anyone they dont like, take sides during times of turmoil and kill innocents.

Our people can kill innocent lives and go scot free because of our "connections". They have the freedom to drink while driving and commit such kind of incidents.

Freedom to politicians to make their rantings has brought in hatred amongst the different communities

What freedom are we talking about?

Is it like such things happen only in America?

Does it make our society still pure and void of any hatred and injustice?

What "values" do such people have?

Freedom for me is to act within the boundaries laid down by our country and by our elders through our upbringing...

Freedom for men is to respect the other person's sentiments.

You go out of that boundary and you have misused the same...

But the boundaries will always differ from one country to another, from one society to another.

What is a "refined" approach? What's refined for you may not be for me...

It's just the individuality of each culture which makes us to think and act in a particular way.

I hate the American style of living; too lazy, too obese,too much nudity, they're the real terrorists, whatever...

Do I wish they would change and be like me? I sure do... But can I force it upon them? No!

Can I help my own people from not becoming like them? I can help by "suggesting" them the rights and wrongs. But with globalisation at its peak, intermingling of different cultures and well the sharing of different characteristics among them was bound to happen.

Forget about India and America. Let's take an example of a husband from Kerala and his wife from Chandigarh...
After a certain time the husband will subconsciously acquire the punjabi acccent or atleast some of her mannerisms and vice versa!! I am a prime example of it! My urdu has suffered terribly while my wife's had improved!

In the end, Why are we becoming like another community? Because we are getting a chance to explore and to either accept or reject it...

It's upto us to decide what we want and what we don't to accept.

People Matter To Me said...

Arshad alias Mr.Fiero,
Do you know that we are talking in the same language, with the same thoughts, but expressing them differently? The objection is basically to the word 'American'! Well, I suppose that word represents a culture and the bottom-line is that instead of being invincible with our deep-rooted culture we are being influenced adversely. We are not adapting the good scores that they have achieved. American is not bad but the way we are becoming Americanised is definitely not cherished. The questions of politics, law and order and our approaches to various issues is attributed to lack of education...education in its real sense. Here also the objective has changed routes in the recent past. Big corporates have invested into education (though not all) to churn out half baked aspirants who still look lost after putting so many years of 'studies' spent their or their parents' hard earned money. This brings us to the issue of possessing a national character. This is missing and to make matters worse we have consumerism and 'Americanism'(I know you have an objection to the word) arriving to devour whatever is left. How many of us are actually focussing on these issues?

Mr. Fiero said...

Hi Dhruva sir,

Well, finally I can say that I agree (or perhaps have gained clarity) to some core points of yours:

1)We are not adapting the good that they have achieved

A. I won't agree totally here. Let's say we are slow starters!

People there had an avenue to share their thoughts, and ideas.A lot of inventions have come out from the west because there thought process was many steps ahead than us and in many cases they used what "we" already knew and incorporated the same.

But yes, it has come to a stage now where indian labour is extremely in demand and vital for many industries' survival. Our people have entered their lives, their governments in such a manner that our culture is slowly getting seeped into their's.

Infact now, WE are influencing the west!

Britishers savour our Indian curry, Americans have developed a facination for "beedies"! Women find the sari very sexy. They just don't see us as people who are snake charmers and elephant riding people....

Indeed we as a nation are being taken more seriously with talks of India being major Global power in the very recent future.

2)The way we are becoming Americanised is definitely not cherished

A. I don't think we need to worry too much about that. What worries me more is how our own people are hampering our progress in the name of religion and caste (in short, politics).

We need to battle the demons within our society to battle outside forces.

We feel that it is more critical to spend money on creating 200 crore statues than to work on the welfare of the people. We feel changing names of places is more important than in improving the infrastructure. By "we" I mean our political parties.

Politics plays a pertinent role and its saddening that its just not about welfare of the people but about "showing" you care for others and actually feeding egos, ideologies and your pockets.

That for me is more worrying. If we worked as a complete unit then, we can fight off any kind of influence.

Why we get influenced easily by others is perhaps due to the varied and immense differences in our sub-cultures.

The gap between the rich and the poor is also so large.

At one end of the spectrum you have people who acquire industries as if they are purchasing watches and at the other end you have farmers (agriculture, our main industry) who are commiting suicides.

We have so many religions, divisions within each religion, languages, dialects, communities, etc.

I guess that, indeed its remarkable we have still stood as a unit and have shown to the world what we are capable of in spite of all this!!

3)Churning out of half-baked aspirants through lack of a standard in the education and the facilities.

A. I totally agree here. I myself am a product of such eductation. Just because my famly was not strong financially, I was sent to some small B-school to pursue my post graduation.Three years hence I am at a stage where I'm not able to even help myself, forget about the society.

The American education system of identifying and nurturing the qualities of a child right from the start and helping him/ her pursue their natural strenghts is an aspect which seriously needs to be a part of our education process.

Here, unfortunately its all about how much you are able to mug up and show off your big percentages.

4) We don't have education in the 'real' sense.

A. According to me 'real' education comes when we gain the wisdom to truly differentiate between the rights and the wrongs.

This wisdom gets developed partly from our upbringing and majorly by the influence of our immediate society.

There are only a very among us who are able to come out of the stronghold of all this to truly think in a more broader perspective.

And as you finally mentioned

5) How many of us are actually facing focussing on these issues.

A. Unfortunately a very very few of us. The rest of us are just trying to survive under the pressure of looking after ourselves and our families (roti, kapda, makaan) in our mad mad cities, of making everyone happy and forgetting our happiness, of being committed to the causes of our respective ideologies and religions.

Those who 'do' care either write, be a part of morchas, or the truly righteous people who "show" by bringing a change within themselves first. They change their stands, their thinking, and automatically the rest follow them and it's amongst those people I truly aspire to be...

Sir, I'll tell you one aspect which our society (perhaps it's a common trait in the sub-continent) has which I wish never changes nor gets influenced wrongly; it's the respect which we have for our elder's, the lengths we go to make them happy. I hope this never gets removed.

saubii said...

Dear Sir,

It is really a nice article . But the thing is that its not that we are going American what i think its just the way we are seeing it .

Whenever we see little changes in the society or any thing we just think we are imbibing the others but its not the true . If we are thinking that we are going American same thing is applicable to Americans also . They are thinking they are going Indians. Since they are adopting Vastu, Yoga, thoughts, and even fashion too . The only thing which makes a difference is that they are still having advantage of being superpower and its human tendency that they want to become like the others who is successful or powerful . What i think is that there is no Solution to this question because even if i am saying all this i wont go to wear dhoti i will go for Jeans.

We didnt loose our culture but we adpoted new a lot thats y its not easy to see those old values and cultures

SG said...

Dear Dhruva and fellows,

It is fairly complex subject and the views generated here are quite varied.

It is not a question of American culture or Indian culture, or "open" or "orthodox". I believe that one learns from all the people around and from nature, otherwise, the humankind would not have reached, where it is today. We believe strongly that Indians are closely bonded, friendly, but look at today what is happening at top of Indian society. The Drama being played and relayed in and out of the Parliament for something, that only few have known, even fewer have understood. However, because of the various interested groups, we are ready to sacrifice everything, both government and those who oppose them.

It is not to make a political statement, but the fact is there are larger issues to be looked at: Education, Poverty, Inflation, Economic slowdown, use of natural resources. I think, if we can spend even some amount of time on these, then we can disregard issues like cultural invasion, orthodox, openness (whether in men or women).

I strongly believe that we as men should not cast any views on the way some people dress or choose not to dress.

manas said...

How you pronounce a word or dress does not make you an American (or any nationality). Its not easy to be an American. Being in American means becoming a part of a history of making an unknown continent the largest economic, scientific and military power of the globe. Forget the Indians in India, even the Indians residing in USA are still deeply Indians in all negative ways. They are still casteist, they dislike the blacks more than the whites (have you seen dark colored people in Indian advertisements or dark colored heroine in Indian movies ?), they think women are not as good as men and most important they think India is better than America but struggle to get green card or citizenship. Actually it is true for others too. All over the world Muslims are in the forefront of anti-american protests but their migration to USA continues, even from Hamas ruled Palestine. People hate America but want to go there or want to look/ hear like Americans.
Ammericans are hard working people having both good and bad qualities. The good qualities must be more than bad ones, otherwise America could not be number one in so many fields.
.... Manas

Tanu said...

what values are we talking about? Indian heritage was lost after Mugals and Britishers invaded India.Do we know the values Indian heritage had in the past? We talk about equality of men and women, but that we had already before the Moguls came in,Both the prince and princess used to learn everything required. Parda system and male dominating society came only after the Moguls invaded. There was caste system but was blown out of proposition by Britishers.
Let going Western or American, we Indian lost and forgot all our values long ago when we were invaded. Now we talk about media spoiling everyone, but who is responsible for imbibing so much competition in the generation X. Parents, whose dreams children follow, from whom the children learn. If the child is not among the rankers, he is a shame to the family, to the extend parents pressurize enough to commit suicide.
Who can we actually blame for our own wrong.Aren't the elders following easy routes and teaching children to follow the shortcuts.
Western culture is nothing but shorcuts to everything in life; be is sucess,managing life or any other walk of life.

People Matter To Me said...

Thanks Saubii, Satish, Manas and Tanu for your remarkable comments. I find however we as a society have evolved to accept things as they are and this has happened for generations now. Otherwise perhaps we would not have found the persecuted seeking refuge on this land. With your wonderful comments and the 'fiery' ones from Arshad, I have been able to discover that perhaps with different cultures found on this land and a rebellious attitude towards the fanaticised religious or rather ritualistic approach towards living, we have found a commonality in the 'Americanism' we are discussing. We are now not talking of the advantages and disadvantages of any ism, but are perhaps trying to crystallise our thought processes. Can we have some comments on this remark?

Nishikant Jain said...

I would believe that in our transition to modernize, most of the Indians became 'Westernised' as US of A attracted us with its economic opportunities, hollywood and confidence.

Instead of cultivating those as per our system/culture we started poliferating the american style without customising it and instead adapted ourselves to it.

But I would say that people living in southern cities of India (Hyderabad & Chennai) are giving shape to Modern India instead of 'Westernised' India unlike Delhi & Mumbai.

IMC said...

It is not that a particular culture is good or the other is bad. from perspective of the individuals that live in a culture, their culture is the best. and should be considered the best, as it is something ingrained in us since childhood. An American feels and finds his culture is the best, same with the Japanese, and with Australian. Then why not Indian?
But, the same is not accepted by the Indian Society of the present. we have, by culture, been very much spiritualism oriented in the past. but talking of the present, we have found fancying interest in imitating the west.
I agree to it that we have had a culture of absorbing the other cultures like sugar in the milk. here the opposite is happening now-a-days. We, the most ancient and elaborate of Culture, are trying to merge ourself into the Few centuries old culture that is best suited to some other section of the world! isn't that an irony.
be it an irony, but we are facing a grim scenario due to the same.
i wish we could realise the vitality of sustaining our culture. because if you lose what makes you special, you are rendered useless. you can't be better in english than English. but should we not realise that we are best at being an Indian. and no one can be better than us in being that. Still, we go for Western Culture. I feel for my fellow citizens, and also for myself.

Sujeet Vishwakarma