Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

i came just in time for two of India’s crowning achievements

Posted by Chris on September 26, 2007

There were two events that happened right after I arrived in India that I think demonstrate a paradox of globalization. that is, how the US and India (or any two cultures that historically were not in close contact), which differ greatly in worldview, paradigm through which they view surrounding world, can also be quite alike at times.

1) On Sunday night, the wildly successful Indian Idol tv show crowned its winner, a young man named Prashant. Indian Idol has been around for a few years and from what I can tell, follows American Idol not only in name and purpose, but even the style and colors used.

Prashant had strong support from two areas: Kolkata and Darjeeling. He is from Darjeeling, a small town known more as a tourist stop as a former British tea station. It is way up in Northern India near the Himalayas. In fact, Prashant is Nepalese. He is also a police constable in Kolkata. So Nepalese people in India and denizens of Darjeeling and Kolkata all consider this a victory for themselves as well. It reminds me of people in Central North Carolina when Fantasia Barrino was on Amer Idol in 2004 I think it was.

Kolkata, while it is one of the four metros in India (largest cities), is in many ways underappreciated. It is not growing economically like Mumbai and the other metros. It is the only large city in its region, closer to Bangladesh and China than the other parts of India. Darjeeling is just a little town and Nepalese people are not true Indians—they can all feel a form of personal pride and satisfaction through Prashant. I think that we can look cross-culturally and see this sentiment in America at times too. But I say it’s paradoxical in that the music here is very different; while India may have copied the concept, I highly doubt that Taylor Hicks would be popular here, or Prashant in America (I don’t know about Sanjaya).

2) India just won the ICC T20 Cricket championships. It defeated Pakistan in the championship match, after defeating Australia who is the #1 squad in the world. According to someone here, the media dubbed the game vs. Pakistan in a phrase that he translated as “The Great Fight” or “The Great War.” There was more at stake than just cricket. Ideologically, politically, religiously, these two countries have opposed each other many times.

I told some Indians here that it reminded me of US Hockey team in 1980 Olympics vs. USSR. I wasn’t alive then but the story seems to go that it was democracy vs. communism rather than just hockey.

Again, I could point out several cross-cultural similarities that come out when you look below the surface. It’s important to do that because it can bring a feeling of unity, maybe curiousity and responsibility, that is missed when you only see the differences on the more superficial level and the more well-known, deep-rooted cultural differences.

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