By Pranali Batra
Indians have always been fascinated with the American existence. Whether it is their films, their clothes or even their universities- the ultimate dream for many Indians has been settling there. Working in U.S. is seen as the most obvious yardstick of success in our households. Even those advertising in the matrimonial columns make it a point to ‘casually’ mention that their N.R.I. beta has now returned from the States.
The Indian diplomatic policies too have reflected this courteous and often submissive role, with respect to the US. Fortunately, there was a change in this mentality recently, though the manner in which it arose is agonizing to recall!
December 12, 2013 was a dark day for India’s relations with the US. Needless to say, this was the day Devyani Khobragade, former Deputy Consul General of India, was arrested by the American police. The subsequent uproar proves that the nation is no longer willing to let US step on its toes. There was a fanatic call for vengeance and it was achieved by rolling back several privileges earlier offered to the staff of American Embassies residing in India.
This incident has several lessons to offer. Before we get completely bowled over by their lifestyle or start going gaga like their pop sensations, we must consider that there is an awful lot that we tend to ignore while pronouncing U.S.A. triumphant in our ‘Best Nation Analysis’. Here’s a look at five things U.S.A. should learn from India.
Whenever we think of the word ‘hospitality’, the image that springs to mind is a smiling Indian woman inviting you warmly into her home, insisting that you stay for dinner and not taking ‘no’ for an answer! Indian customs have always preached Atithi Devo Bhava to such an extent that it remains one of the best known aspects of our culture.
Consider that when Robert De Niro visited us earlier this year, our film industry left no stone unturned to make him feel comfortable and at home. Their film fraternity however doesn’t go out of its way to welcome our celebrities.
The Indian diplomacy exudes this spirit of hospitality also and has opened its arms in warm welcome of its American counterpart. For instance, whenever American President Barack Obama has visited home turf, our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it a point to receive him personally at the airport. If only the same could be said about the Americans! It was quite disheartening to see that our Prime Minister was met by a mere junior protocol officer when he paid a visit to the former’s homeland this September.
But then not every culture has the same sensibilities and hospitality has always been our most admirable quality!
2#UNITY IN DIVERSITY
Diversity is something India is no stranger to. And this nation has perpetually housed multiple communities and sects within. On the contrary, incidents of racial discrimination with the non-white citizenry have been widely witnessed in America. Statistics show that the police are much likelier to frisk blacks or Latinos rather than whites and there have been many untoward controversies sparked off by this also-a prominent one being the frisking of ex-Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam not once, but twice at the US airport! Likewise the Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan attracted similar treatment from the airport authority due to the suspicion that Americans naturally tend to attach to his race- the Muslims.
3#REVERENCE TO THE ELDERLY
Elderly people are a storehouse of wisdom and experience. Indians have always given recognition to this fundamental fact. This is observed in our actions also since opinions of elders in India are given immense importance and their word is the law.
Interaction with the aged enhances our appreciation of our culture, the practice of our traditions and the pride in our heritage. The knowledge and the delight we thus gain, find their manifestation in the form of the zesty celebration of festivals and ardent faith in religious ceremonies, again characterizing features of us Indians!
Traditions in this tricolor nation have always been family-centric. The fervor with which occasions are celebrated here makes them seem all the more jubilant! And this isn’t surprising, since our joys multiply and our sorrows get divided among scores and scores of relatives after all!
What is most comforting is that a task-force of minimum twenty rushes to the rescue whenever one of us faces trouble. Peaceful coexistence of joint families presents a common sight under Indian roofs. Conversely, the prevalence of nuclear units in the USA since time immemorial is discernible. This simple fact speaks volumes about the Indian love for family ties.
5#RESPECT FOR MUTUAL ALLIANCES
The Indo-U.S. relationship has always been that of mutual benefit. The mistake India makes is to let her guard down and place infinite faith in their ‘noble’ intentions- regardless of evidence suggesting the contrary. However with the Devyani Khobragade case, it has become evident that Americans are in no mood to comply even with International Treaties and have assumed a habit of getting away with ruling beyond their jurisdiction. India, for its part, respects the alliance forged between the two nations. But in order to restore the integrity which U.S.A. wrongly tried to severe from our identity, the stand taken on the rollback of privileges was totally justified.
For once let’s direct our speculations towards our strengths- which tend to get overlooked or taken for granted. It’ll definitely be a pleasant change from enumerating and magnifying our weaknesses! It won’t be wrong to say that FOR ONCE it would benefit the Americans to take a leaf or two out of our books, instead of presuming that theirs is always the upper hand! And it won’t do us any harm either to stop assuming that we are always a step behind them. After all, Saare Jahaan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara!