East is East, West is West The twain shall meet

East is East, West is West The twain shall meet

February 23, 2017

Over a century ago, long before the term multicultural gained currency, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), born in the-then-Bombay, one of the late Victorian poets and story-tellers, awarded Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, also known for his unpopular political views, wrote a poem titled “The Ballad of East and West” whose initial line reads “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.” The renowned story-teller seemed to be saying that all of us are, to some extent at least, unable to adapt to the ways of others. He was himself essentially part of both cultures, according to his biographers. Triggered by Kipling’s poetic line, one is prompted to ask the question, if Westerners find it hard to make the transition to the ways of the East, why would Easterners find it any easier to make the transition to the ways of the West? Especially why in the main, they don’t seem to do so, although many of them emigrate to Western countries? A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the above question was asked.

Historically, people from India have formed, lived and married within their own communities after mass immigration to foreign lands in the initial generations. Lately, episodes are taking place in large numbers witnessing Indians integrating into the societies in which they find themselves. Kipling might well have changed his line with the ending “The twain shall meet.”

A close look at the ongoing makeover in the outlook of people moving away from their homeland seeking greener pastures, particularly the steadily rising exodus of Indians to the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia and countries across Europe, unmistakably reveals the intermixing of faiths or in other words, a melange of cultures, once again representing a denial of Kipling’s postulate. Slavish obedience to ancient code versus liberty and free speech is unarguably an old order yielding place to the new order of ignoring the clash of cultures, except in case of populations that continue to be under tight grip of the clerics.

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Even as common people, Indians moving overseas in particular, and also those originating from the aforementioned regions of the world are adopting and accepting each other’s ways of life in general, it is only the celebrities, including bureaucrats in high posts and icons in the film world who provide ample testimony that East and West shall meet, a welcome development in human history.


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