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Western Wannabes

Western Wannabes

June 01, 2012

Is the Indian youth chucking its roots to mindlessly ape what it thinks the West is from what it sees of it in the media?

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?"

With the Indian constitution into its 60s, 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 and 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.

Photo credit: ageas.com 

20 Comments

  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    22.07.12 03:00 PM
    There exist smart NRI uncles who have managed to keep up with smart Indian nephews by keeping abreast of everything that's modern.

    But I admire those smart Indian nephews, who are able to find better opportunities in India that certainly may not have been available to those uncles’ decades ago.

    I only wish all these smart nephews can change India and get rid of all western habits. Show you can be efficient; hardworking like the western industrial nations and dignity of labor could be the end result.
  • Bharath
    By
    Bharath
    22.07.12 11:12 AM
    @ Atheist Indian I AGREE! I am 23. I was accepted to University of Syracuse MS in CS Program. I gave up because i find better opportunities here in India. Indian Youth today are much smarter than the NRI uncle knew a decade ago. Having said that, The implied argument that Indians imitate the western ways of living while not respecting efficiency & dignity of labor is baseless and completely false.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    19.06.12 08:03 PM
    @ AI

    Dude that's harsh, but I agree.

    HARRY
  • Atheist Indian
    By
    Atheist Indian
    19.06.12 07:33 PM
    I also agree with one of the commenters above - the west and United States are not interchangeable. Europe, in my personal observation, is far more close to the ideal than the parasitic mess that the United States is.
  • Atheist Indian
    By
    Atheist Indian
    19.06.12 07:31 PM
    Not to be offensive or anything, but this sounds like yet another of these "gasp, what happened to the India we knew when we left?" ramble that comes from NRI unclejis and auntys.

    I agree to a point that most young Indians do have a naive and superficial idea of what America is about, based on what they see on TV (just like foreign tourists who wear weird looking fabindia clothes and think that 'blend in').

    As someone who has actually lived in North America, your idea of what 'real America's is warped and self-serving as well. Another typical NRI trying to tell resident Indians, "I know what America is because I live there, you guys are just wannabes".

    If you put American youths and teens in the kind of dog-eat-dog and corrupt world that Indian youths have to navigate through to make something of themselves in life, you wouldn't see any honesty and ethics among Americans. I have observed Americans to show far more propensity to discard ethics and integrity in the same situation as Indians, which they often justify using fundamental attribution bias.

    The very idea of plagiarism being the 'ultimate crime' in the US is laughable and speaks of naivette more than anything else. Corporate plagiarism is rampant in United States, where foreign patents and innovations are often repatented as 'American' and touted as a 'testimony to American ingenuity'. Individual plagarism is high as well, so long as one can get away with it without being dragged into a court (a REAL threat in the litiguous society that is United States).
  • JS
    By
    JS
    17.06.12 08:56 PM
    "JS, the article is about the Indian PERCEPTION of “the West”"

    Ravi K, you entirely missed my point, which was that the article uses 'the US' and 'the West' as though they're interchangeable and mean the same thing.

    @ Mojo "The US is the third most populated country in the worls after China and India"

    And? Does that mean that 'the US' and 'the West' are interchangeable? The population of the EU (European Union) is much bigger than the US.
  • vijay
    By
    vijay
    16.06.12 11:19 AM
    I almost forgot to mention about differences like "work ethic", "punctuality", "professionalism" etc. These difference arise from quality of education and economy. Clearly, overall, US is way ahead in both aspects. But they are not universal attributes of people. In fact I dare to say that service in McDonald's outlet here in Pune, India, is faster and professional and better than anywhere else in the World/US. And those are India youth working there, albeit well trained by McDonald's.
    On the other hand, you will find pretty silly and inefficient things in US. So it depend on where you look, and which groups of people you compare.
  • vijay
    By
    vijay
    16.06.12 11:00 AM
    Hi Khadija,
    I understand your concern about influence of not so good things on Indian youth. But I also see you struggling in the article with vague terms like "Real americans", "America : Greatest nation", even one cannot talk about "Indian youth" as a single entity, and have meaningful discussion, but it's worth a try :)

    Here is a statement to provoke you: "Overall, when it comes to people from all strata of society there is not much difference between American culture and Indian culture". For every rich financial banker (not loved these days :) in NYC, there is a businessman in Mumbai and Delhi, who you will find share the same culture and attitudes.
    For every middle class family in US mid-west, there is family in India, working class, trying to save money for kids education and college and once in a year vacation. For every immigrant in US from all over world, there is an immigrant in big cities of India, willing to work 10 hrs, 7 days, just so he can escape miserable life back home.
    And for every high school youth in US who is dreaming of getting into Ivy League college some day and making a good career and finding a life partner and owning a home, there is Indian youth dreaming the same dreams.
    So tell me how two cultures are different. What you call wannabe Indian youth is tiny little percentage of URBAN youth who happen to experiment with their life, for good or bad. And when they experiment they take influences from all over world including USA.
    Do I make sense?
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    14.06.12 12:37 AM
    @Harry,

    I am glad you liked it.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    13.06.12 11:54 PM
    @ Rajpriya

    That's good one. LOL :)
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    13.06.12 10:21 PM
    Ami's are really clever. They stay sober to be to able shoot straight and then fly to UK and drink behind close doors.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    13.06.12 09:40 PM
    @ Mojo

    Drinking is rife in UK. Kids as young as 10 years old are drinking. And yes they are allowed in uk to drink in a house, if they want to. My next door neighbour always buys it for his 12 years old son. Each year in uk as many as 25000 cases of alcohol poisoning to minor are reported. UK's 1/3 under 18 years of age drink in home and other 1/3 in the street. Drinking is biggest problem in UK at this time involving young people.

    UK has biggest drinking culture in whole of the europe. These are not stats. These are real drink figures when police is involved. All you need to do is Google drinking problems in UK, and see how many hits you get.

    You said that people are not allowed to drink in the US until they are 21. I know that, but, it still doesn't stop people drinking. The funny part is when they are falling all over places in street and walking zig zag after drinking. This is when you will LOL.

    One thing I have never understood about US is that, they can trust you with gun but not alchol, now that's funny. :)

    HARRY
  • Mojo
    By
    Mojo
    07.06.12 02:26 AM
    @ JS The US is the third most populated country in the worls after China and India. Cussing is considered highly offensive in most parts of the US (and please dont base american life on something as ridiuclous as "Keeping up with the Kardashians")
    I am always shocked to see Indian kids using words like "Sh*t", or F***, or Dam*.
    words that if an american kid was to use, would get glares and parenting would be questioned.
    @ Harry, Kids are not allowed to drink in the US until they are 21. Drinking behind closed doors is ok? LOL. Funny.
  • Ravi K
    By
    Ravi K
    06.06.12 04:24 AM
    JS, the article is about the Indian PERCEPTION of "the West" as a place where people party non-stop while wearing designer clothes. Many Indians in India act like this because that's what they think people in "the West" do, while disregarding the work ethic, punctuality, dedication, etc. many Americans and Europeans have. Some (not all) in the US may get drunk on the weekend, but chances are they get right down to work during the week.

    Drinking and cursing are not exclusively Western, nor are they inherently bad in moderation. So let's get off that particular high horse immediately :-)
  • JS
    By
    JS
    03.06.12 08:50 PM
    Is this article about 'the West', or is it about the US (or 'America' as the author calls it throughout)? Why does the author use the terms as though they're interchangeable? The West is much, much more than simply the US - Western Europe has a higher population than the US, for a start. To write as though the two are one and the same is lazy and irritating, especially from someone who's lived in Canada and really ought to know this. I'm from the West and I have absolutely no interest in or intention of living my life according to the 'essence of America' or 'the American dream'. Yet I'm every bit as much a part of the 'people who make the West what it is' as any American. Ridiculous, badly-written article.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    01.06.12 09:02 PM
    Are we Indians and NRI’s changed for good or bad by emulating like westerners. I am not being rude or racist, just an observation.

    I am not saying do not buy best stuff invented in west or do not adopt the social change which are meant to be good for us, or the technical advancement, which can improve and better our life, but the things I am saying is, do we need to be like westerners, when it comes to drinking and partying like west, as good change.

    We Indians and NRI’s Should be selective in adopting all the good things that other culture’s have to offer, and leave the rest which cannot be integrated in to our culture. This should be our mantra.

    If drinking and partying is considerd good thing as a social change, then I feel sorry for the remainder of the Indian population who still believe it’s worth preserving our culture, even in west and still be proud of it. I'm not against party. What I don't like is what happens in one in west, where everything goes.

    If you think it’s step in right direction for our female NRI’s or Indian to drink and party like this, then I feel sorry for you and your future generation.

    I am not saying drinking and partying is bad when it’s done in privacy. What I’m saying is, I have seen the drink related problems in UK and believe me the things I have seen should not be emulated at any cost, by men or women, especially our NRI’s or Indians. By saying this I am not passing any judgement on any body.

    As a good person, I hope you understand on what I am saying. By endorsing drinking or partying, as a good change, in our women or men, is as good as saying, I LIKE AIDS.

    I have said this before and I will say it again.
    We should be proud of who we are, and don’t need to be like anyone or anybody else. The last and the least if drinking and partying like west is considered a good thing as a social change in India or Indians, then I’d rather not be good.

    HARRY
  • stuti
    By
    stuti
    01.06.12 01:31 PM
    Very true. I also always wonder why our people are taking only spoiled attributes of western countries and not the good ones. Not only drinking habit, speaking cuss words has also become a trend. And the movies like Delly Belly works as an add-on. I don't know what our media is also serving to the audience. After all they should also have some social responsibilities which they have vaporized for commercialization.

    After all, people should have the sense to identify the difference between right and wrong.
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    By
    Jyoti Agarwal
    01.06.12 10:15 AM
    Once I went for an interview in a firm in Delhi and the concerned person reached almost 2 hours after the committed time. On the other hand, while I went for an interview in London, the interviewer came all the way from 12th floor to ground floor to greet me and show me way to his office. That is the difference and that is the professionalism attitude and respect for other's time and efficiency is what we Indian still need to learn from our western counterparts. It seriously hurts me watch my Indian colleagues working for 12 hours in office but wasting almost 8-9 hours of those in gossiping and doing mindless things.
  • Vivek Iyer
    By
    Vivek Iyer
    01.06.12 06:45 AM
    You're absolutely right. I think what people are looking for while getting into that drinking culture, is acceptance into the American world. Its just how dominance is now, and maybe a 100 years down the line, things will be the other way round.

    And as for the points you said on American efficiency, professionalism and effort, I'll say that Indian corporations and government still lag way behind in almost everything, and you'll find people even from this very forum coming for my blood saying I'm aping the Western way!
  • umesh derebail
    By
    umesh derebail
    01.06.12 06:25 AM
    thank god foreign govts have put a break on immigration & foreign education does not fetch decent jobs parents & youth are painfully realising their folly after costly exp

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