I wonder why there is so widespread adoption for anything foreign and apathy for local. Why are we so ignorant or ashamed of our own culture and heritage?
Last week I went to Concorde Manhattan, an apartment complex in Electronic City Bangalore. The project had 10 towers each named after a great person. Unfortunately none of the names were Indians.
Outside Bollywood & cricket, almost all celebrities became widely popular first abroad then domestically (rather than the expected other way around). Notable names being Mahatma Gandhi, Amartya Sen, Arundhati Rai became overnight celebrities only after the rewards and recognition abroad. Some of the most famous Indian industries flourish because they don’t do any business in India. Take Lakshmi Mittal or IT Companies of the world. Even in Bollywood, no viewer will watch a movie unless the movie has western clothes, songs shot abroad. A month ago, I met an NGO activist Harish Hande during the recent I5 talks in this campus. He sadly admits that his NGO is neither the best nor the most revolutionary. Yet he was awarded the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award only because he is eloquent in English and has worked so hard promoting his company Selco internationally.
English language skills has become the only scorecard to judge how a person, the universal language for the high class gentleman. Your family and friends will hold you in high esteem if you work for a MNC. If you happen to be working for an Indian company, then number of foreign trips will determine how successful you are professionally.
Many products carry a tag “export quality” signifying that produce for the local market is inherently inferior. Even traditional Indian practices and philosophies gained relevance abroad before we Indians even understood its value. No wonder even today we use the western names which has ‘a’ attached towards the end of Yoga, Ayurveda etc. rather than the original Indian name. At ISKON, which is probably the biggest temple in Bangalore, they Chant “Hare Rama! Hare Krishna!” not “Hare Ram! Hare Krishn!” because of its international image.
Why is it that we are constantly and often blindly following foreigners? Can’t we make a judgment for ourselves? Why is it that local talent and ideas are being starved domestically in our quest to adopt anything foreigners. I would like to end this note with the famous story of a couple on the donkey.
A man and wife along with their donkey were returning from the forest. The man was riding the donkey while the woman was walking. The passing-by commented on how the inconsiderate man was making his wife toil in the hot sun. So the wife mounted on the donkey which was immediately followed by comments on how the man was henpecked and cuckold etc. Frustrated they decided that both of them would ride on the donkey. Now the passing by commented on how heartless the couple was and how they are doing to over-work the donkey to death. So both of them decided to walk. No, wonder the donkey ran away and the couple was too tired to pursue. Gist is that its important to listen to others, but there is no wisdom in blindly aping the society.