If India Truly Wants to Be Like America…


India now calls him Santa Claus, and not Father Christmas anymore. Everybody is happy that way.
We’re all noticing how India is getting Americanized…fast!
Or, at least, that’s what they say. They say Indian young generation in particular is now talking like Americans, walking like Americans, singing like Americans, and even shopping like Americans.
(Some say, they even do drugs like Americans…but I don’t believe that for a moment!)
Some of my friends and relatives keep bragging that for all intensive purposes, there is practically no difference between India and America. They say, “Look, we don’t need to go to America like you did. We got it all here.”
I tell them: I am proud of you. And I notice a big smile on their face.
Then I ask them some questions.
And I do not notice that big smile anymore. The smile disappears. And they are not happily talking to me no more.
But I must ask them these questions. Because these questions come from my more than twenty-five years of living in the U.S. These questions come from my intimate familiarity with real America. This is an America that most Americanized young people in India do not know about.
India now celebrates Valentine’s Day. It’s become one of the most popular celebrations especially for the young generation.
India now celebrates Mother’s Day. It’s become of the most popular celebrations especially for the mall-going Indians. Mother’s Day in India today is all about shopping, just like what it is all about in the U.S.
India now celebrates Christmas more euphorically than ever before. The Americanized young generation in India brags and boasts more about Christmas than it does about old-fashioned Durga Puja, Diwali, Eid, Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmasthami, Pongol or Baisakhi. And just like what is all about in the U.S., nobody talks about the connection between Jesus Christ and Christmas, or for that matter, the equality, peace and justice messages Jesus preached.
Christ is absent in Indian Christmas…for the most part. Just like America.
The same people — at least a big section of them — who dance at night clubs and drink like crazy on Christmas Eve, then the next morning, scream to begin a new war with a perceived enemy country, demand immediate hanging of perceived terrorists without any regard for legal due process, suspect everybody especially people from other races or religions who do not look or act like them a criminal, and enslave domestic servants, with occasional slapping and other abuses included. They cricket gamble big time…perhaps even on Christmas Day.
They are not much different from a similar class of young and old people in the U.S. So, on that front also, they’ve truly become Americanized.
But, then, I ask them these questions about America — the real America I’ve known over the past twenty-five years.
1. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American punctuality, considering most elite and privileged Indians are obnoxiously non-punctual?
2. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American work ethics, considering most elite and privileged Indians are horrendously sloppy and slack?
3. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American concept of self-sufficiency, considering most elite and privileged Indians depend on their mothers, sisters, servants and others to do their work — cooking and cleaning included?
4. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American sense of gender equality, considering most elite and privileged Indians treat their women as second-class, exploitable citizens?
(Would the rampant child beating stop?)
5. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American way not to gossip, backbite or slander others especially in their absence, giving them no chance to defend themselves?
6. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American way of speaking gently, with giving plenty of listening to others, considering most elite and privileged Indians talk loudly with no desire to patiently hear others?
7. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American standard practice of not trashing and littering their homes or streets?
8. If India wants to be like America, then would the Indian elite and privileged follow the American courtesy while in a line or boarding a train or bus, not to jostle, jerk or jam?
I could ask fifty more questions, but who listens? So, I shall stop for now.
India is becoming a new American clone. It is turning into a new-era colony of America, and the American people in power couldn’t be happier. The haves in India are also extremely happy that they are now basking in the glory of American empire.
Deep down though, the changes are all on the surface: with Valentine’s Day, shopping malls, Pizza Huts, Coke and cocaine, free sex, fashion parades and binge drinking.
Deep inside, Indians do not really care about changing their walks, talks and acts.
Of course, in case you think I do not see exceptional Indians who truly want to change and changing, I do see them.
I’m only talking about the vast majority.
Stating some simple facts of life,
Brooklyn, New York

Now, change That!
Now, change That!



  1. This was very thought-provoking. When you have lived in two cultures you see things about both in a way that you only can by experiencing it. I’ve only spent six months in India, but I lived in China for three years and the Christmas phenomena was fascinating. I had thought I would be leaving that behind but I guess one should never underestimate the power of consumerism!

    • Thank you for writing. Yes, it is beyond belief how fast new global consumerism has taken India over. Plus, the social destruction of values in the name of modernity and progress. Very scary. And I’m also highlighting the hypocrisy and double standards especially among the elite and privileged.

  2. Dada, these are deep questions. What if some of us (I include myself within this bracket) do not want to be like America or Americans? I have nothing against Americans and enjoy their motion pictures, music, honesty, work ethics, punctuality, general politeness and helpfulness which do not become overbearing, but I have a problem with the supposed self sufficiency. What if I want to be exactly what I am? A Macaulay prototype, a box-wallah, a thoroughly colonized Indian who clings to a fin-de-siecle Britain that does not exist any more? I am used to my servants, cooks, maids, chauffeurs, clerks, caretakers, sweepers and general factum factotum. I have had them since my childhood and they have more freedom than I have. They have days off in the week, hours off in the day, 24 x 7 televisions of their own, they eat what we eat (according to their choice, of course) and most of them have become landed gentry in their villages and towns. Of course I exploit them in the sense if I ask them to do something, they have to do it – but then, I hardly ask them to do anything that is not part of their job-description. Some of them have been with me or my parents before me, that is, for fifty years. Their becoming old and infirm has not deprived them of a livelihood. Some of them just sit around doing nothing but are given the dignity of employment, and are not pensioners. There is and was a sense of noblesse oblige about those who have and provide for those who do not; in the mad rush of egalitarianism, let us not forget that in India, most ‘have’s (not the nouveau riche beneficiaries of trickle down capitalism) do not relegate their dependants and domestics to welfare or social security. We take care of our own. We stay with our parents not to sponge on them but to look after them in their old age and infirmity. We have joint families not because we are backward, but because we value family more than convenience. Write about these and people like us also, when you write about the affluent Indian.

    • I am not asking Indians to become like Americans. But there is a very serious push from the American powers and their Indian followers to make it happen. My point is that it’s happening on the surface only. America has a lot of good things to offer; however, Indian young generation is not willing to accept those qualities. Because hard work is hard work. Copying the bad things is easy. MacDonald’s is junk. But nobody cares. Nobody knows. This is just one example.


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