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June 01, 2012

Cross-Culture on Class Mobility in India: "The offshore industry shook all that up."

Over at Richard Lewis's always-fine Cross-Culture see "Shifting Social Dynamics in Modern India" by Anita Punamiya. Excerpts:

Many Indians, whether they admit it or not, covet the Western way of life. However in the past it was only a select few who actually managed to realize their aspirations to study/travel/live abroad. For the majority, it was just a dream. Traditional Indian society has always been restrictive in many senses. Social mobility was restricted. Family, gender, caste, and hierarchy defined one’s place in the social order, determined how others viewed you, related to and behaved towards you and what is expected of you.

It also defined what options were open to you in terms of what you could accomplish and who you could become in life. It favoured the privileged and those in the upper classes in society. So dreams of going abroad seemed the only way to break the social shackles.

The offshore industry shook all that up. It levelled the playing fields in some ways. It opened new doors, offered new opportunities and financial freedom, which brought in its wake many other changes. The social fabric of Indian society is undergoing dramatic changes. The changes are redefining the concept of identity among younger Indians and reshaping the role of family and the Indian values of interdependence, modesty, family honour, social hierarchy and so on.

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Bookstand in Delhi, 2004. Photo: Nick Papadopoulos.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at June 1, 2012 11:59 PM

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