At times when I think about it the evolution of a human being works in oscillations. We are always struggling to find our identity and at any given point in time, we are either travelling away from or towards ourself. Do we ever actually find ourselves or do we always just swing past that point and head in the opposite direction instead? There are several aspects we associate with identity - our names, our culture, our city, our country, our religion, our profession, and many other social groupings. I was thinking of all this when I chanced upon the following Lufthansa TVC:
While it does remind me of one ongoing debate about the Indian influence on the world, it also makes me think of another important aspect - what is our identity? And is it really as different as we think from the rest of the world. If it is, can it give us happiness in the long run?
It is indeed a matter of pride that our country through its centuries of existence has been churning out ideas, tools, knowledge that has been intrumental in bringing the world to where it is right now. Most Indians would remember and take pride in the following song:
The fact that India gave the concept of shuny or zero and dashanlav or decimal to the world has been reiterated so many times that it doesn't need to be said anymore. India's influence such as that through the language Sanskrit, the word Om, the scientific Yog, the powerful Ayurved, the (ahem) educational Kamasutra, and many more ancient practices has never been questioned. But it has often been discussed that we Indians have been running away from our roots for the past few centuries. The truth is that we have been moving, with open arms, towards the western and other external influences. But while that is happening, the world has been running towards us with open arms too. Indians now make for a large percentage of the world's Software Engineers, Doctors, Entrepreneurs, and call centre executives. We provide these services to the world so in a way these services are getting more and more Indianized.
Photo Credits - Mike Abbott
Several international movies are now based on India and foreign sitcoms often include an Indian character. The ones I can remember immediately are Dr Kutner in the series House MD, Rajesh Koothrappali in The Big Bang Theory, and Neal in Whitney. The stand-up comedian Russell Peters has made it big making fun of our typical Indian awkwardness. So in a way, we can say that Comedy is being Indianized too. And one must never ever forget the talented twins from Harry Potter Padma and Parvati Patil.
However, I feel this is not the complete picture. Because just like Indian influences can be seen everywhere, one can also see influences of other cultures in India and worldwide. With curiosity and appreciation for each others' culture, language, cuisine we are absorbing more and more of each other. I feel that while it is true that world is being increasingly Indianized, it is as much true that it is being increasingly Americanized, Chinized, Europized, Japanized, and Africanized. I feel that countries are in fact becoming more similar with each passing day.
But then why do we still have wars? If we are so curious about each other, why do we still detest each others' ways so much that we cruelly behead the one that doesn't agree with us? Why do we not enjoy this diversity and just let everyone be? What will be achieved even if we ensure that every other living being believes in the same things as us and behaves exactly like we want them to? Will the world then remain such an interesting place to be?
Our egos as Indians may be appeased by the following thought:
"As India gets increasingly globalized, the world is getting increasingly ‘Indianized’."
But after that initial sense of pride, another realization dawns. Isn't it high time we stop being Indians, Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Americans, Chinese, and Japanese, and be Humans instead? Do we need an external power to unite us here on Earth?