Us, them and others
The world we live in today owes its design to the West. We can blow our conchs on how great we were once upon a time and blahblahblewblew but that doesn’t change the way things are. Look around you. From the device you are reading this on to the chair you might be seated on to the paint on the walls surrounding you to the wires you might notice outside your window to the fume vehicles are emitting so enthusiastically to the planes gliding across the sky… all these features owe their existence to the minds that created them thanks to the technology they—the key word here is they — came up with. On the contrary, what we — the key word here is we — have consistently accomplished in modern history is the replication of our Euro-American luminaries wherever and whenever we could. Yes, there is nothing wrong in absorbing knowledge. Yes, there have been individual desi sparks every now and then. But, a big but there, knowledge should lead to a two-way traffic for exchange, not one. And our numbers wane in front of the mammothic influence the Westerners hold. It’s easy to say that we are currently dwelling in the American Civilization but on zooming out, we’d realize that it’s the collective West that holds the scepter. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Indians have no match. Japan might be closer to us but we aren’t interested in copying their values. Because in doing that, we’ll have to confront our hollowness, especially given Japanese commitment to staying Japanese. It might be misplaced nationalism — which recently became a bad word in our country due to executive underreach and judicial overreach — that makes us look like prototypes of the West. Whatever they do, we’ll do the same. Why? Well, the rest of the world does too. Shouldn’t that be a lame excuse to let others do the thinking for us? How long before we realize that what works for them shouldn’t necessarily work for us? Instead of looking within and finding ourselves, we seem to be in a hurry to become something we are not. All in the name of globalization, another fancy word of the 21st century. From joke formats on Twitter to TV show ripoffs on our channels, the flow of exchange is always from West to East. A trend that should be unsettling us but is somehow settling our urban design.