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The western fixation

Dr. George Thomas
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The article, “Time we grew up…” by Sridhar Krishnaswami (Open Page, July 29, 2012), hit the nail on the head. Although the white sahibs have left us long ago, we still desire a pat on the back from them for almost everything we do. We are still caught in the slavish, warped mindset.

This is evident even from the everyday words we use. In the same issue, another article is titled “Roadblocks to rights in ‘Detroit of the South’.” This refers to Chennai as Detroit. Such sobriquets are well known to us. ‘Manchester of India’ (Ahmedabad), ‘Switzerland of India (Kulu-Manali, Dalhousie and Coorg), ‘Silicon Valley of India’ (Bangalore),‘Venice of the East’ (Alappuzha), and ‘Paris of India’ (Jaipur) improve the identities of the Indian counterparts.

A Disneyland-like theme park is coming up in Bangalore. Is there anything like Bangalore of the U.S. or Mumbai of England? The media is very much party to this promotion of westernism. Even our newspapers are named Times , Express , Telegraph and Chronicle, after the famed western ones with an apologetic ‘of India’ or ‘Indian’ appendage. The magazines are copycats of Time , Newsweek and the like. The electronic media bends over backwards to air a royal wedding or the American presidential elections to improve its TRP ratings.

Another case in point is the word ‘Bollywood’. The Indian tinsel world needs a western imprimatur for recognition. What is a film world without a resemblance to ‘Hollywood’? So the Bombay film world is called Bollywood. Should it now be ‘Mullywood’ after Mumbai? Not to be left out, we also have ‘Kollywood’ (Chennai) and ‘Mollywood’ (Malayalam). Then we have ‘Ollywood’ (Odia), Punjwood (Punjabi), Sandalwood (Kannada) and ‘Sollywood’ (Sindhi). There are two languages vying for ‘Tollywood’ (Bengali and Telugu). An Indian film star was referred to as the Julia Roberts of India! Is there a Katrina Kaif of the U.S.? If Hollywood has such an impact on our lives, could other things be far behind?

Even in crime we cannot give up our craze for a western touch. We had an Indian ‘ripper’ after the famed Jack the Ripper. Then we have terrorist attacks named 26/11 after the 9/11 attacks. We have the foddergate, coalgate, DIAL gate, IPL gate, etc., named after the Watergate scandal. The scandal led to the resignation of President Nixon. Our scams with the ‘gate’ suffix have only the name but no outcomes! And the Mumbai police are the ‘Scotland Yard’ of India!

We tend to glamourise people who have done well for themselves in the West, little realising they have denounced India and taken another citizenship. Aren’t we going overboard by idolising them as ‘Indians?’ And, hats off to Zubin Mehta and Amartya Sen — they are still retaining Indian citizenship. They deserve all our honour.

Clones in business too

In business, western clones are a plenty. If there is Kmart in the U.S., we have Vmart, Gmart and the like. And a brand name like John, Peter, Richard or England would sell better than Junaid, Pankaj, Ravindran or Kerala. Add a St. (Saint) and get full value addition. I am waiting to wear a Pankaj Ernakulam shirt! We have several ‘fried chickens’ and food ‘huts’ named after the famed western brands. Dalal Street goes after Wall Street. Why don’t they call their financial district Wall Marg? If there is an English premier League, we should definitely have an Indian Premier League.

In politics, too, we to imitate the West to improve our status. 7 Race Course Road is akin to 10 Downing Street. Couldn’t we retain the beautiful word ‘Panchavati’? Not to be left out, if the American President flies Air Force One, we have Air India One. I can only conclude with what Sridhar said, “Grow up India, grow up”!

(The writer’s email is gthomas@doctor.com)

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