Thursday, May 13, 2010


Do Indians have to go full circle aping West for their own values?

Urban Indian culture is speedily getting there, being totally what Western countries are, or should we say were (as West is getting spiritually more aware now)! Today, an Indian metropolitan individual runs after career, status, style emphasizing on his individuality. There is soaring materialism, competition, stress, anxiety and depression. Sounds like West? No longer now! Westerners have really picked the goodness from other cultures, and especially Yoga, Karma and Ayurveda from India.

Opulence and abundance led to lot of imbalance in the West. Stress, discontentment and obesity leading to other health issues have been there in US and other affluent countries. However, the lifestyle is changing fast here. Health experts recommend eating fresh food, practicing yoga and meditation and live life in balance with moderation- like a yogi. While urban Indians are becoming more of bhogis abandoning their own values and culture.

Consumerism- With better economic conditions, increasing mall cultures like in West, Indians are turning into big spenders and consumers. The more on display, the more gets added to shopping carts, to households, wardrobes. People are spending for the things they don’t really need or they already have. Credit cards, personal loans are all flooding the market making people spend, spend, and spend! What has this done in West already? Lot of accumulation, lot of waste, lot of pollution, lot of industrial waste… a lot of what is undesired!

Materialism- India has been known to be a land of spiritualism. But taking a dip into rapid urbanization one comes out soaked into materialism. Like West, focus is on materialistic success and possessions. There is display of gadgets, assets, wealth, status and accomplishments. There is an attitude in everyone creating lot of noise, roar and commotion in which there is dwindling modesty and simplicity; the adornments of an Indian. Indulgence is on a high.

Alcoholism- Were these MNCs or expats who brought in the culture of raising a toast? But unfortunately taking alcohol has become a symbol of sophistication or being trendy. Business meetings, get togethers, celebrations or just an evening, consuming alcohol has become a part of urban society. When the Westerners are switching to ice tea or buttermilk for health, it is a paradox to see wineglasses in the fast changing landscape of urban India.

Non-vegetarianism- Perhaps it is the curiosity for other cultures that turns even Vegetarians of India sinking teeth into meat and beef, while the Europeans and Americans are adopting satvik vedic diets being vegetarians or even vegans. Perhaps they have their predecessors’ stories with high cholesterol and colon cancers to learn from (while Indians are perhaps just getting the stories of taste). And may be now, the lessons of compassion and non-violence will start flowing from the West.

Junk foods, Processed foods and Soft drinks- Right from childhood, Indian kids are now exposed to junk foods and soft drinks while the way of celebrating birthdays or other parties is through cakes. Perhaps metro-Indians do not even remember any other way of celebrating birthdays than cake cutting. Cold drinks, breads and burgers are becoming a routine. Consumption of frozen foods and other processed foods are also on high. Busy and sedentary routines plus these food habits are already raising problems of obesity, Hypertension Diabetes and other health issues.

If Indians have better economic conditions than before, they should also take time out to learn and practice their inherent wisdom and values. Why do they need to go a full circle of heavy consumerism, materialism bundling it up with rising physical and environmental stress and wasting diseases, and then come to learn the ways of a Yogi. What kind of feeling will be that, learning own wisdom from other countries!

Talk about cross- cultural influences, there are many other good things to learn from West and adopt.

Literacy- Way behind West and even China, in India only 66% Indian adults and 82% youth are literate.
Integrity- May be it is due to strict law and order or may be it is wealth, but there is high integrity and moral values among people.
Cleanliness and Orderliness- There is generally high sense of cleanliness not just at homes but at public places also in the western culture. People don’t leave mess for others to clean (again, it may be education, law and order and basic civic sense). There is an orderly, methodical and systemactic approach for everything to run smooth in the west.
Non-noisy celebrations- Well, Indians do enjoy the roars at festivals, but do they really need to use amplifiers to keep the whole area awake? Do they need to carry out noisy parades and processions, block the roads when there is a wedding or a festival? Here there is huge learning from West who know how to celebrate without disturbing others in the community.
Being non-intrusive- It is typical of Indians to keep probing until they really dig out every detail about other person. Well the notion is to get friendly and be concerned, but there the grapevine starts. From West, one can learn to maintain adequate distance while still being friendly.
Giving adequate space- If one has to learn from West it is to respect individuality, rather than imposing own desires on one another.
Breaking orthodox systems- Every individual has a different outlook and Indians have a tendency to please society, elders and in that they may be blind-folded to keep following the old orthodox systems. One can learn human value, equality, upliftment and reform from West.
Self-sufficiency- Whether a man or woman; being self-sufficient is what West is about.



At 3:12 AM, Blogger Deuce Ace said...

Thanks buddy for blogging/marking it up here in your blog. I would have loved if you would have left a note there on my article/blog

Dr. Anju

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post.
I live in the US and long to return to India.

Even though life for me in the US isn't particularly easy,
I prefer to live here for the reasons highlighted by you.

Each time I return to India, whether to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru , Kochi or Indore, I find that the blind aping of the perceived 'forward' elements of the West gains a higher pitch in the upper and middle classes.

The English media presents a distorted emphasis on upward mobility of the professionals. The advertising is shrill and so is the language and content of political debates. Contrast this with the civility that the West conducts itself with.

We have very little love to preserve what we have as a glorious heritage. Not one decent museum in the whole country. And our heroes are all those who can make money. This is true not only in business, but in sports and entertainment. Even the arts are not exempt from this criterion.

India is in the thrall of glamor and glitter. The flawed idea of empowerment has created an urge to splurge on the material but done harm to the collective society.

They say one can never go back home and home never leaves you. For those like me who are on distant shores, we were inclined to think that this was a temporary stop. That home would improve and we could help it change.
Instead we find that we will likely never return, and should we do, this mythic India Shining will be a caricature of its true self.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous spikey360 said...

Its sad too see how degenerated Indian youth have become. They are aping everything that is bad about the West.
Did our forefathers shed their blood and sweat to establish a nation like this?
These 'liberal' and 'empowered' elements must be taught the real Indian way of life by us 'conservative prudes'

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