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Why Indians can fit well in a diverse workplace

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Representational image.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

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We carry our multiple identities, the many dualities of our lives, with ease

For us Indians, there are certain personal norms that make perfect professional anchors in today’s work world.

We are blessed, for the most part, with strong, stable familial bonds often lasting a lifetime. We don’t usually leave home to seek our fortune at 18. And when we do, we carry our relationships as children into the new ones we forge as spouse and parent. We are comfortable with our multiple identities and accept the tensions and contradictions inherent in managing them as par for the course.

As much as 50% of us are bilingual and 17% trilingual, speaking more than one of our 22 recognised languages, and sometimes dialects and variations that do not make the official count. Multiple languages, accents and intonations are part of our daily lives as are the ways in which we overcome these barriers of communication and interaction.

Rich palate

We are fond of telling our foreign colleagues that there is no such thing as Indian food because it varies from State to State, region to religion. We can eat biryani, chaat and dosa with equal relish. We see nothing unusual in this seamless palate of diverse cultural, historical and geographic contexts and tastes.

Dualities and differences surround us. In our homes, traditions sustain us despite our modern city lives as professionals; and in our streets, Jaguars brush past beggars without apology or discomfort.

Our slums sit cheek by jowl with our elite colonie; and on our roads, cows, carts, SUVs and two-wheelers weave and dodge buses, trucks and pedestrians, and almost everyone survives the chaos.

Noise does not distract us, nor crowds deter us, even as we seek solace in meditation, mindfulness and yoga.

We carry our multiple identities, the dualities of our lives, the variety of our lingual skills and culinary tastes with ease into a global work environment, adding a wider, varied global cultural context into our repertoire.

Be it British, American or Asian, we take in these new influences and then give the mix a “glocal” flavour, often to the bewilderment of our colleagues from these cultures.

As products of a nation that went from great poverty to a developing nation and then an emerging country, we are conscious of the resources we have and how we use them, stretching both rupees and bargains to maximum value.

The innovative mindset emerging from our jugaad mentality is another trait so valuable today.

These are not only relevant but also vital traits in today’s work environment. Let us celebrate our ‘Indianness’ in our global professional lives.

Let us make the professional personal in our very own, very Indian, way.

nitasha.devasar@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 2:34:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/why-indians-can-fit-well-in-a-diverse-workplace/article29932150.ece

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