One in every six individuals in the world is an Indian. So obviously we’re a common bunch in the world. But the fact is, most of us reside in our own soil, the Americas, Canada, and some other countries in the west and the Africas. In reality, though, our position in the world is very confusing. There are a lot of reasons for that.
Firstly our very own land. Being the 7th largest country, India has an immense amount of resources and potential. In that context, the country is a key player in the world economy and politics. But same is the case with China. And being India’s neighbor, the two countries have a lot of influence over each other. In spite of these two mega nations having so much dominance, we associate with the west whenever we talk ‘international’. That is because culture is what gives one an identity. We gladly embrace western culture and that is why countries even less powerful than India (like Germany) feel like they are far ahead of us. That again has two reasons; one, that the west have skillfully mastered the art of exhibiting their own culture in the best possible manner and second is that we are the worst at preserving our identity.
The Indian doesn’t consider his own culture to be ‘cool’. Young people nowadays are ashamed of wearing a dhoti or pajama nowadays even though it was a very basic dress in our society. So the Indians emigrating are more than ready to take up the new culture. That is fine but in doing so, they don’t even try to maintain their own unique identity as an Indian at the same time.
Also, with whatever limited sociocultural interactions we have with the international society, they are again restricted to a limited number of countries and mostly the Indians living abroad are the major audience. Take the case of Cricket. We feel like we’re on top of the world but in reality, that is among only a very few number of countries. And the other big thing that defines our current Indian society and culture is Bollywood. And yes, it’s again limited to Indians only, both home and abroad.
India is looked upon by the world as a land of immense beauty and unsolved mysteries. People from all over the world travel here to witness the land and its people. This is true and the country is in the world spotlight for this. But amidst all the good, a basic flaw remains. And it all boils down to the very same thing – culture. Even though people are fascinated by our culture and society, they still consider it to be full of rituals and traditions that make no sense at all. Even though everyone wants to witness this unique land, very few really want to actually imbibe any of it. All of this clearly reflected in movies of foreign make. Even if they show any other culture, the setting is usually Chinese, Japanese, Central American or even Middle Eastern. India usually comes last in that order. That is because only a fraction of our identity is actually known to them; the one involving the sannyasins and our religion only.
But things are improving actually.
In the field of sports, we have started participating in many sports of other kinds with much dedication and have even achieved a lot of success over the past few years. Individual events like boxing, badminton and chess (among others) now bear the names of Indians at their helm. Indians are renowned for their superior hand-to-eye coordination. This brings up the field of medicine also. Indian doctors are famous worldwide for their skill and dexterity in the field of health care. This is again for two reasons. One being already mentioned and the other being the depth and vastness of the Indian medical curriculum. It is a lot tougher and more comprehensive than the degree courses of other countries, and this leads to better doctors.
Even in science, Indians are at the helm. 30% of NASA scientists are of Indian origin. Several Indians are also involved with CERN. And even our indigenous organizations are key world players. This puts ISRO at the top of our discussion. A highly reputed organization that has achieved several feats, making ISRO a member of a club of the elite few, like the ones having reached the moon. Even in technology, Indians have left a big mark. The biggest example that can be given is ‘Hotmail’, the first email service. It was in fact started by an Indian and later acquired by Microsoft.
Even in defense, India is a major partner and a powerful force to be reckoned with. India’s critical contributions to the UN Peace Keeping efforts has earned a great lot of respect on the international stage. Even in our home turf, India is viewed as a big brother and a valuable friend to almost all of the countries in South Asia.
Everywhere India is steadily progressing and this also includes Bollywood. Movies are becoming more and more mature, which is appealing to a bigger audience.
For anyone, an Indian is a familiar person. Our height is less than the world average, but it only says that ‘Big things come in small packages.’ My place in the world as an Indian is actually quite high.