The Missing Commentary – Indians in US

We came to know Chetan Bhawgat for his books. I suddenly thought this : From 1980s to till date, some millions of young men and women from India went to US with different aims and objectives. Let us consider we are talking about 10,00000 young men and women [ educated, moderate to hi-skill, sexually active age-group, having passed some 18-25 years in India ] sample population. For the whole group, this was perhaps most striking cross cultural exposure.

Now, I ask myself :

Why dont we have any enduring cultural commentary in the form of a novel, a collection of essays, a film or anything that documents his experience ?

Where is the missing commentary ?

In contrast, a significant document of historical studies come from Traveller’s Tales. Consider Hi-eun-sang, Marco Polo, Al-Beruni, Iban-Batuta. Or the grand Encyclopeadia Indica compiled by British Administrators in India.

Here are some explanations given by my friend Saayan

1. The people had no time to consider this.
2. ALL the people went there with some objective and documenting cultural differences were not one among them.
3. Many went and found the niche which minimizes cultural contrast [ e.g a Punjabi living in Southhall, London or a Sylheti in Tower Hamlet ]

But is it possible to believe that a million strong group with all the possibilities of having been impacted by one of the greatest cultural impact of their lives could remain mute, dumb and nothing significant to tell ?

I doubt. I strongly doubt this.

Hence my uneasiness

Because, the only alternative left then is to conclude this : From circa 1980 to till date, India exported only those [ including people from IIT /IIM and other centres of learning ] who are, to the last man and woman, culturally passive and de-sensitized individuals ?

And a corollary : Indian young men and women who could manage to enter those institutions are the most in-authentic and counter-feit material, culturally speaking.

I am devastated.


One response to “The Missing Commentary – Indians in US

  1. Manuel Ignacio Serrano

    I don’t wish to sound pessimistic. Far be from me! But have you considered for a moment that those thousands of people that you mention were living at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st? The most precious commodity for many is TIME. For many, TIME is to make money. Not for me, or perhaps for you, but it is everywhere in the West, in the East, and if you ask me, soon in the vast solitudes of Antarctica!
    Ibn Battuta and the others you mentioned lived in other eras, where the pass of time was more leisurely. Of course, the potential readership of their travel experience was going to be a very small fraction of today’s, and still they managed to read. But here you’ve touched another raw nerve: fewer and fewer people read in this age of TV and images everywhere. It is a pity of course for those of us who have a love for the printed page, for wordsmiths and readers, for literature lovers. But the sooner we accept that the mass of yes, even the “high and mighty” of society have sold out to the Zeitgeist of TV and images, the less disillusioned we’d be. That’s not to say that we just fold out our arms in resignation and pack our books to go home. But we admit that such is the baseline of ignorance, apathy, stupidity and carelessness of the so called educated, upper and middle classes of today. Keep the faith in words, you are not alone; never despair and remember the words of one Christian theologian of antiquity when speaking of himself against a hostile public: “Well, then, it is Athanasius against the world”.

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