Sunday, March 11, 2012

Welcome to India, dude

One of my big impressions from reading Stieg Larsson's books about the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (not the movies, which focus upon things Swedish) was the extent to which American icons had permeated Stockholm. It seemed that the characters spent all their waking hours shuttling between McDonald's, the 7/11, and Starbucks. Now Akash Kapur brings us the news that the same thing is happening to India. A native of both countries--his mother is American--he was educated in the U.S. but has now settled in India, and he finds the trappings of the newer country now permeating the older one. His op-ed in the NYT predictably laments this change--I doubt it would have been published otherwise!--as when he notes: "I found myself turning my head (and wincing a little) when I heard young Indians call their colleagues 'dude.'” And it ends on a down note, of course:

India’s Americanization has in so many ways been a wonderful thing. It has lifted millions from poverty, and, by seeding ideas of meritocracy and individual attainment into the national imagination, it has begun the process of dismantling an old and often repressive order. More and more, though, I find myself lying awake at night, worrying about what will take the place of that order. The American promise of renewal and reinvention is deeply seductive — but, as I have learned since coming back home, it is also profoundly menacing.
To be rich enough to worry about the loss of the old order--now that is progress. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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