Be it color of the skin or language, we tend to 'ape' whatever the westerners do. Let me give some examples:
Fair is beautiful
When it comes to beauty in a person, it is often equated with how fair his or her skin is. Yes! It is unfortunate but a reality. Check out this advertisement from fair and lovely site. A girl, who is a theatre artist gets no audience because she is not having a fair skin. By using fair and lovely cream, she gets fair skin in 8 weeks. Followed by that she becomes a great artist. What is the message conveyed? Be fair, Be beautiful and be famous. When parents are discussing possible proposals for their son/daughter, the color of the skin becomes one important parameter for shortlisting a person.
In case of a person not having a fair skin, it is described as 'weatish complexion but beautiful'. Apart from being beautiful, fair skin is considered as rich, superior, posh and civilized. On the other hand, if any person is not fair, he/she makes all the effort in to become fair and join the bandwagon. They visit beauty paurlors frequently and make facials, apply high quality soaps,herbs,creams regularly to make them look fair. Read our advertisements, TV programs, matrimonial sites and observe our discussions about beauty. Almost all times we equate beauty with having fair skin.
When any person (especially girls) not having a fair skin, they have difficult time in getting married. I have numerous examples many of my friends and their relatives who's marriage proposal got rejected just because they are not fair. We seem to have developed an aversion towards having weatish/black skin. Why do we think so? Why can't we accept the fact that various factors (like genes, food, climate etc) determine one person's skin color. Why do we always try and make attempt to be like 'somebody else'?
English is great
I have had horrible experience when it comes to language. We appreciate English and given elite status to it. Especially in cities like Bangalore, English has become the default language of communication even inside houses. Parents are happy to see their kid communicating in English fluently and take pride in declaring 'My child doesn't know to read or write Kannada'. I am taking example of Kannada, because I live in Bangalore. I am sure that applies to other cities and languages as well. I am a Tamilian and started conversation with one of my friends in Tamil when I met him in office cafeteria. He was so annoyed me talking in Tamil and kept on replying to my questions in english. I don't understand the logic behind people feeling 'inferior' to communicate in their own mother toungue, that too inside our own country.
Let me top it up with some more stuff! I have seen many NRIs and call center folks using the western 'accent' when talking to fellow Indians. No matter how many years one lived abroad or take trainings,the basic accent cannot change completely. But why try talking with western accent? That too against fellow Indians? What are they trying to show up? On the other hand people living in town send their kids to English medium schools and spoken english classes to make sure that they are not left behind. From the childhood they are taught that talking fluent English something they should practice for becoming 'great'.
According to me, English is just another language, but spoken widely in the world. Given India's diversity its impossible to have one language for communication.While our diversity has its own advantages, we can't design a system like China or Japan, where the local language is used for every other purpose. As a country India is getting its competitive advantage mainly because of its English speaking population. I am writing this blog in English and use it for all my official communications. I also believe that English should be taught from primary schools level to make children connected to the bigger world.
That doesn't mean that I should glorify it and feel inferior to talk my own language.I shouldn't hide the fact that I am a Tamilian, in fact I am extremely proud to be. If I am having a 'thick' accent (especially pronouncing words like temple, program) thats my nature. Let me accept the fact and carry on. Let us embrace multi lingual education and make things better. We should learn from countries like Singapore, who have successfully implemented it.
Great Indian 'Copy + Paste'
The amount of pride we take in copying western things is really awful. Let me start with a simple example. During her recent visit to Mumbai, my sister got me a night pant (see picture below) for 200 rupees. The brand name says 'Adidas'. But there is a small white label named 'poonam garments'. What does it imply? We will create Adidas from poonam garments? Don't the garment manufcturer don't even have basic sense before copying the global brand name and shamelessly placing his company name just next to it? Is he so smart to make a Adidas pant for 200 rupees?
Starting from the night pant, we copy anything and everything from the west.Piracy is omnipresent and we don't spare anything: Company brand names, books, TV reality shows, movies, dress materials, music, computer software, MP3 players. In fact one of my friend's blog post was copied (from blogspot) and published in suleka.com with minor word modifications.
Apart from copying from others, we feel happy and proud doing it.
Anything from foreign is great
For years together, Indians believe that anything from foreign country is great.
Whenever I travel abroad, I get multiple requests from friends and relatives to carry one of the items like digital camera, laptop, iPod etc when returning. The main reason for asking this is to own 'something from foreign country' and show off to others. Even small things like shampoo, soap, shoes, chocolate, pen, notebook bought from foreign country is perceived as great.
We give more value to a support engineer living in USA rather than a core R & D engineer scratching his head in India. Any software engineer is of some 'worth' provided he had spent couple of years outside India. Nobody bothers about what type of work one does and how much real value he adds to the overall system. Just because a person is a 'foreign return' he or she is great. I personally know some community, who go abroad so that they can demand more dowry.
Thanks to IT industry,many foreign nationals visit India on business. Even if an entry level engineer from USA visits their counter parts in India, he gets a royal treatment. I have seen ten people trying to help the 'foreign' engineer to fix his laptop power supply. The same courtesy, helping nature just flies off when it comes to fellow Indians. Nobody gives way for ambulances; Nobody stops even for a minute to help during a road accident;
In the past 1500 years, we have not done any great innovation except a very few. We are trying to find some of the above mentioned factors (like fair skin, English etc..) and derive glory out of it. This glory is short lived and not sustainable. Indians need to shrug such feelings and work towards creating something real, innovative and original.
As long as it is not happening, Indians will continue to live a 'pseudo' life.