Global Indians Photo courtesy – DFID – UK
“Beloved younger brother,
Greetings to respectful parents. I am fine at my end. Hoping your end is fine too. With god’s grace, and parents’ blessings, I am arriving safely in America and finding good apartment near university. Kindly assure mother that I am strictly consuming vegetarian food only in restaurants, though I am not knowing if cooks are Brahmins. I am also constantly remembering Dr.Verma’s advice and strictly avoiding American women and other unhealthy habits. I hope parents’ prayers are residing with me. Younger brother, I am having so many things to tell you, I am not knowing where to start. Most surprising thing about America is it is full of Americans!”
That was the great Indian immigrant as depicted in the “The Inscrutable Americans” written by Anurag Mathur way back in 1991. The protagonist Gopal Kumar’s comical discovery of America begins this way. He is bewildered by American girls, new gadgets, naked women billboards, vegetarian cats, mobile telephone and multi-channelled colour TV!
Thaipusam Singapore – Image Courtesy Nestor Lacle
That was the era of the ABCDs – American Born Confused Desis – where Indians who travelled or born abroad were not sure to adopt Indian culture or Western. Way back in the pre-liberalised India, the clash of Indian culture with the Western was the hottest topic debated in the media. However, over the years since liberalisation and globalisation, these cultural differences seem to have faded away. Or have they?
The evolution of a Global Indian is aptly portrayed by the NRI poster boy Shahrukh Khan in “Pardes” where he brings the two cultures to meet each other, in a well settled overseas Indian family in “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, an NRI eager to return to India and work towards its development in “Swades” and as an Indian Muslim trying to get acceptance in America in “My Name Is Khan”.
Thaipusam in Singapore – Image Courtesy William Cho
Today, you can be a burger eating, jeans-clad yuppie, who loves heavy metal, but yet remain an Indian at heart. On the other hand, our culture guardians are seriously concerned about dilution of our culture due to Westernisation of our education and entry of corporate business in every aspect of life. Many Indians are confusing Modernisation with Westernisation. Do you think that being a part of the modern society in India needs you to adopt western culture? Modernised countries like Japan and Korea have held onto to their strong cultural roots even today. Do you feel urban India is somewhere losing its cultural identity and giving way to western mix?
Global Indians – Image Courtesy Harsha K R
We at Caleidoscope seek your opinion about the emergence of a “Global Indian” amidst us. The global mindset is too complex to define. Its essence lies in a sense of curiosity and openness to learn about cultures and business environments beyond the familiar. People who have a global mindset are open to actively challenging themselves to operate beyond their comfort zone.
Living and working in a foreign land does not automatically build such a mindset. Several Indians who have lived in another country seek out the familiar even after they have been in their adopted country for years. The people they socialise with are all from the home country. Being immersed in an unfamiliar world frightens most of us. Familiarity is a warm blanket. A global mindset is about actively seeking the unknown, says Abhijit Bhaduri.
So the question is, do we have a Global Indian mindset? Why should we have it and does it help us in enriching our culture?