A Tale of Two Cultures

Topics: Culture, India, Asia Pages: 3 (920 words) Published: September 29, 2014


A Tale of Two Cultures

Many cultures in Asia are in the midst of an identity crisis. In effect, they are being torn between two worlds. Pulling in one direction is a traditional value system derived from agriculture-based communities and extended families-that is, elements of a culture in which relatives take care of one another and state-run welfare systems are unnecessary. Pulling from the opposite direction is a new set of values emerging from manufacturing- and finance-based economies--elements of a culture in which workers must often move to faraway cities to find work, sometimes leaving family members to fend for themselves. For decades, Western multinationals set up factories across

Southeast Asia to take advantage of relatively low-cost labor. Later, local companies sprang up and became competitive global players in their own right. Spectacular rates of eco­ nomic growth in a few short decades elevated living standards beyond what was thought possible. Young people in Malaysia and Thailand felt the lure of "Western" brands. Gucci hand­ bags ( www.gucci.com), Harley-Davidson motorcycles (www.h-d.com ), and other global brands became common symbols of success. Many parents felt brand-consciousness among their teenage children signaled family-wide success. Despite the growing consumer society, polls of young peo­ ple show them holding steadfast to traditional values such as respect for family and group harmony. Youth in Hong Kong, for example, overwhelmingly believe that parents should have a say in how hard they study, in how they treat family members and elders, and in their choice of friends. Now globalization is washing over India. An explosion in

outsourcing jobs is causing a social revolution among India's graduates of technical colleges and universities. Unlike India's traditional high-tech service jobs, young call-center staffers are in...
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