Saturday, April 10, 2010

Westernization is in the air...

India Inc. is flying high and we should be really proud of that. Indian Cos have gone global and at the same time MNCs are eager to set up their centers in India. Middle class Indian is getting exposure to the western culture like never before. Some of the effects of this westernization can be easily seen in our day-to-day life. More kids are going to English medium schools; Parents are conversing with their kids in English; There’re more pizza/burger/CCD outlets in the city than the once-omnipresent tea stalls (chai ki tapriyaan); Portable hard-disks are full of Hollywood movies and Love marriages are rapidly outnumbering arranged marriages. However, sometimes a thought crosses my mind...Are we not blindly copying Americans in whatever way we can? I agree that westernization has enabled us access to a luxurious life which we didn’t even dream of. I might sound a bit radical here, but I strongly believe that we should hold on to some of our basic cultural values instead of blindly copying western people. The concept of a joint family or the concept of arranged marriages, for example. I strongly believe there’s something good about these institutions which have worked for us for so long. Otherwise, why would western people look up to India for more stable families, more sustained married life and consequently more peace of mind? I believe, these are a few values which make us Indians stand out among the whole world population and we should make sure we don’t lose these in the pursuit of westernization. We are still in a transition stage and we should be cautious that we do not replicate here the issues faced by western countries.

I’ve observed one more thing which I’d like to share here (Caution: Controversial issue ahead. Pale-hearted/short-tempered should not read further). I’m not being a misogynist here but I believe girls have a higher tendency of getting westernized than boys. This statement is merely based on a few observations I’ve had over a period of time. To quote a few examples, girls are more addicted to western food like pizza, burger, and sandwich than boys. Girls are more fascinated towards western clothing, pubs, discotheques and parties. The odds of two girls conversing in English are way higher than that of two guys. Of course, these are just my observations on a very limited sample space. However, I’m still looking out for the reasons behind girls being more prone to westernization. Guys, can you please help me out? In the meanwhile: Think western, but be Indian!


  1. one of the reasons is they are becoming more and more independent..they have well payed to them the money earned if more of a bonus...they know all the responsibilities would be taken care of by husbands y not be spendthrift with what all is fashionable and trendy items in market !

  2. Quite interesting blog man! Your other posts are are equally interesting. I completely agree with your first para. Not with every single statement (like arranged marriage for example), but in general, yes, blindly following something is not useful. Also, my philosophy is take the best from everywhere, whether thats Indian or foreign, doesnt matter...mix all this, and create something unique for you.

    About your second para, a completely sexist approach man. You were right. This is controversial. And I would not generalize women so easily. From whatever little my interaction with the fairer sex has been, they want to do everything, all that they can, positives, negatives, everything before marriage. They think that after marriage whether its pubbing, or western clothes, or pizza/hamburger/sandwich, wont really be possible, as the society expects them to be in a certain way. So it's like a prisoner who is out on a parol! They want to live while they can.

    Couldn't help but glance at the earlier comment! Less said about it, better it is...Anyway you keep writing. Have put you on my reader.

  3. @Pratyush: I sincerely do not understand this logic. On one hand, women demand equality and on the other hand fight for reservation. If they really want to be treated equally, then instead of considering their money as bonus, why don't they take the equal responsibility in household finances?

    @wp: Thanks man! Abt first para, complete agree! Abt second para, interesting point you've put forth. Actually, as I mentioned in the blog, those r just my observations and I'm yet to establish an opinion on that. I'm a bit confused rather and so looking out for nice points as the one u've put forth.

  4. It's a bit hypocritical to tell people what to do. I am of wp's opinion, take the best from all the cultures, mix them, create our own culture. So what to take is completely the taker's take. And if you are saying that eating pizzas and drinking in pubs (rather doing it just because others are doing it) is not good, yeah well, then you disagree with the individual and not the thing. As an example, I eat pizzas because I like them. I go to pub because they play my favorite music. Most of your article applies only to big cities. Small towns are yet to see many of these things.

    We Indians always have been hypocritical. We never treated women equally. Now they have got freedom (at least in metros) so they do whatever they want. The biggest thing is how much we fear the so called "society".

    Anyway, if you are going to put a tab on how people should think, it is hypocrisy.

  5. I understand you are in the queue of getting married :). It's one like and dislike. As long it brings joy by being Eastern or Western its acceptable.

  6. I completely agree with Sagar and WP both. Its hypocrisy to suggest how women and anyone should behave. Yes, it is true that women try to achieve every-thing. :)

  7. @Black c: I'm not at all being hypocritical here. I've put my sincere opinion and I'm not forcing my opinion on anyone. Also, I never said that pizzas, pubs are wrong. You are mixing two different paragraphs here. These r just a few examples I've used to decide the extent of westernization.

    @Santosh: It's not abt just me. It's abt the whole Indian fraternity. About your second point: a smoker enjoys his smoking a lot; so will you support smoking? Well, I won't.

    @Swapnil: Again let me make it very clear that u r getting it wrong if u compare me with a bunch of hooligans (some call them Sainiks) who assault u to enforce their opinion. I've just put my frank opinion. If you like it, take it for free. Else, no issues!

  8. Hummm…
    I’ve never posted my comments on your blog because you are always around and I can have a chat .. If I have something to argue. I just wanted to say something here .. because Pratyush is doing it on your every blog and I don’t want to be the odd one again.
    Hmm here I start …
    India being a country of one billion people, we have million and one kinds of people roaming around us. People who think imitating Americans is the only way to look civilized, eat and dress like Americans. Here I am defining a classification line ( too much PR .. isn’t it?) between those who act americans and thos who don’t. The first class people- what do they do .. they go to the malls and eat crazy colorful stuff. What are you doing … you go to the same malls.. you see considerable number of people there and you start to worry about the damage being done to our culture whatever it means. In the malls you find only class 1 people and that’s only a small part of us. Just like someone here has pointed out .. majority of Indians are still Indian at heart.
    Most of my friends, they buy these American shoes and apparel. They buy them because they don’t want to look like Americans but they don’t have any other options to choose from with that quality. We went to Forum yesterday .. why did we go to McD… Had there been a nice Indian restaurant.. with quick delivery of masala dosa, We would have gone there right? Our industry is surely poor and cannot compete with western corporates. That’s why they are influencing us and having in impact on our culure. Our industry has a long way to go.
    But eating habits and dressing styles are only a minor part of culture. As per my opinion it’s majorly the ideas being followed and how society reacts to the new Ideas. There has been this successful idea called join family for thousands of years but the newer rival – nuclear families are taking over because everyone is moving out may be because of the newer kinds of jobs they are getting in distant places. Gone were the days when kids used to inherit the profession from their parents. The Idea of arranged marriage has been a good idea because you were not just you but plus your family and your family knows who is better for you than yourself. With the nuclear families coming in , it is better to chose a girl who suits your interests than your family because you are not going to stay with them anyway.
    As I have told you, belonging to a culture it means you +majorly ideas you give value to. If you are asking me to think western – ( if that means practicing their ideas like leave your parents once you are on your own or sleep with girls until you get the best girl*) there is nothing much Indin left in me to be an Indian.
    Sorry in case my English totally sucks..! * I am not saying every American deserts their parents and sleeps with every girl in the town .

  9. as u said that women are more prone to be westernised than boys,
    My frank opinion is that it is girl's way to impress boys ,cause they have this only weapon to bag some rich boyz,you might have observed that before a girl gets engaged that time only she behave such flamboyantly, but there is conspicuous diffence in girl's after and before marriage to going to pubs, eating pizzas, i.e. to be westernised

  10. I think the main reason for your observation is that gals get observed more and talked about more than guys. What better things can we guys do when we group up other than talking about gals.

    The reverse is also true as vinucute pointed out above. Gals try to differentiate themselves in some way and westernization is an easy way to get special.

  11. Global interdependence and mixing of culture go hand in hand. We simply cannot absorb the technology and business from west and keep their culture and art untouched at the same time. Moreover, sticking to something just because that has traditionally been there may carry it's own evils, many times unnoticed. Exposure to other cultures makes people realize just that and tune their own only to make it better. Call it "copying" or call it "learning", In my opinion that is a don't-care as long as is it brings improvement.
    Off-course I don't deny people's fascination with the western things, but most of the times it's just looking "up" to better things - very human. And reasonable enough.

  12. "Global interdependence and mixing of culture go hand in hand. We simply cannot absorb the technology and business from west and keep their culture and art untouched at the same time."

    I cannot agree with Shobhit more ! Any technology has values associated with it. You cannot simply accept the technology and leave the values. Slowly, the associated values would seep in. However what you can do is to adapt the technology. This option we do not have owing to underdevelopment of knowledge and industry base. So the people are doing the next best thing available : To accept the technology as it is. (Rejecting the technology is unfit for survival).

    However it may sound, only the technology paves the way to empowerment for a culture. Unless we advance ourselves on that front, we are going to be westernized accepting all the western values, maybe slowly but surely. (I am not lamenting westernization over here).

    Say hello to Uncle Sam ! :)

    - Onkar

  13. @Ram: Very valid points! But I'd like to add that if we decide, we can still put together a good no. of family members at one place. I believe, it's more of our reluctance to do so that's causing what we call as quarter life crisis. Regd ur view on marriages, u've a very valid concern over there. But all I want to say is of course go for love marriages if u like so, but I don't like demeaning the arranged marriage institution which I find very common among our generation.

    @Vinu, Senthil: Valid points!

    @Shobhit & Onkar: I agree! But somewhere we need to draw a line between "learning" & "copying". It's necessary to analyze the things before we incorporate them into our lives.

    @All: Thank you guys for all your inputs so far. I'm really humbled to see such a good response to the post. Keep posting! :)

  14. Tu hamesha sahi baat bol deta hai jaan-e-mann!
    I second your thoughts....

  15. Some people would be seriously happy calling it "wasternization" than westernization.But I beg to differ.For me,its very simple.Its adaptation.It is one's comfort.It is supposed to be at its best if it evolves naturally.Artificial attempts towards it are definitely not what I appreciate.But whether it is the eastern or the western trend becomes a secondary issue for me.
    If you are comfortable,binge those Pizzas and burgers,live-in with your girlfriend,buy adidas shoes,hit the pubs but if and only if it comes naturally to you and not just because its the western trend.Following a trend just because it is a "trend"is not not an adaptation but a compromise.
    Change is continuous process and it is going to be there till life exists.We can not circumvent it but the way we want to adapt to it or negotiate with it is what one has to decide for oneself and it is a completely subjective decision.
    @Kapil:You know whom you want to marry, don't you?;-)

  16. @Prajakt: Nice point of view! To answer your closing question: Nope, I don' yet ;)

  17. Can't agree more with other Mahajan! ;)

    If we have a look at the history of western civilizaton, specially 'the US of A', it was built on hope of freedom and and a chase of a free will. Eventually, having achieved a great deal of technological revolution and consequently monetory benefits, the motto has slowly mixed with 'comfort'. Freedom to comfort..

    Put it in Indian context. Having struggled a lot with their own society (presumably, we are not much of a free society), Indians find it easy to adopt with such western culture. As everyone wud have experienced, a friend gone onsite or doing MS in US just can't stop praising US. Eventually, he wud say, 'y dont u also come down to US? Its good over here'. Point is, their overall environment gives you a high. So, when it does, other things, which may not be good enuf for you, gets sold as well.

    Now, lets extrapolate this to girls. Even the most ahead of curve girl in India would have this feeling that she lives in a male dominated society. So her will to achieve 'freedom' /(comfort) is stronger than boys. Its like spring. More it is suppressed, strongly it will come back.

    Addressing third point. Love/arranged marriage and westernization has got no relation I guess. Sorry Kapil, but you struck a wrong chord here I guess. The Laila-Majnu, Shiri-Farhaan types stuff is way older than the wave of adopting westernization. Its the plain male-female phenomenon. A tribal pair, having never seen anything but jungle, can fall in love. Even animals tend to find their own match. So a particular culture influencing this seems unlikely to me. But yes, this leading to nuclear families may be again, what you are saying.

    So, morale, you cant keep away a culture whose time has come. Which one is good and which one is bad will not be decided by watchdogs of society but by those who form the elements of it.

  18. @Zeus: Let's have a detailed discussion on this topic sometime.

  19. Hi Kaps i think indianness is abt soul. thts only imp baki sab "maya"

  20. Interesting thoughts. But, I really do believe that rather than adopting western values, it is more about trying to be cool without actually being cool. We think it’s cool to do all the things you mentioned and thus ape the western world. That is quite common, isn’t it? We try to imitate the styles and traits of our favorite personalities without having the charisma and confidence to carry them off. So, we go to pubs, eat pizza, denounce Hindi movies because it’s the in thing. We do not pause and ponder to think why we are doing something we have decided to do. It was really funny once when we went to this pub. There was loud rock music playing and a group of youngsters (younger than us) was enjoying it thoroughly. They were all waving around as if in trance. And then one of them made a devil sign with his fingers and others followed him. I just asked one of them, out of curiosity, whether he knew what that sign implied. He was embarrassed a bit and told me he didn’t. It was just that he had seen it in one of the telecasts of a rock concert. There was one very good comment I read on a forum regarding rockstars which describes this scenario perfectly. It went like this – the real rockstars are like people who own and drive a Ferrari. And the pretenders are like people who own a Ferrari keychain, a Ferrari baseball cap and a Ferrari jacket but not an actual Ferrari. So, the point here is we don’t need to stop westernization or analyze the value it adds (or takes away), instead we need to stop being pretenders.

    So, in a way I agree with what projectile says – do it if it comes naturally to you. You don’t need to seek freedom (as somebody termed this phenomenon in one of the comments) if you are free within. An age old saying but very apt here – ‘be yourself’.