Friday, 2 July, 2010

Indians are obsessed with saving face

How many times have you heard that? Many times? It’s true, isn’t it?

But my last nine months with Westerners and many years of reading Westerners’ accounts, about themselves and about us, tells me that there is another way of looking at it.

Everyone wants to save face. Them, us, everyone. But they don’t notice it when they do it. It’s normal.

But is a darkie argues back or refuses to do exactly as told, they can’t take it. It can’t be because he has a point, or his interests are different from theirs. It must be because he’s stupid. Or, if he isn’t, it’s because he can see the Westerners’ logic and his mistakes, but wants to save face.

A few days back, I read an article in which an Englishman argued that the UK should withdraw aid to India because (a) we do not import from them as much as we used to (in relative terms) (b) we have a huge defence spend and © young Indians do not have fond memories of Empire. He acknowledged that millions of Indians are desperately poor, but he put British trade first. 

I can’t see how the two are related. Should we trade inefficiently to buy British? Should we be defenceless because we are poor? Should help be dependent on commerce? If so, doesn’t it, to some extent, become a subsidy for the donor’s goods?

In short, I found the writer illogical and mean.

I’m sure an Englishmen sees the whole thing very differently. And I’m just as sure I feel this way because I’m obsessed with saving face, not because I have a different point of view.  

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