October 31, 2005

A Few Words on India and the Anglosphere

The comments to post contained some vexation about whether or not India is part of the "core" of the Anglosphere. The implication seemed to be that one is either part of the Anglosphere or not, and that it was wrong therefore to suggest that India is not.

I think this is to misstate the issue. It is not "either/or" or "in/out" of the Anglosphere. It is a matter of degrees of participation. The USA, UK, Anglo-Canada, Australia, NZ are "core" areas because of very high degrees of commonality in language, law, business practices, cultural norms, etc. Jim Bennett talks about all this in his book, which you must all go and buy and read if you have not yet done so.

India is uniquely and closely related and deeply tied to this core community, but has its own distinct identity. Majorities in India do not speak English, the rule of law is not so well established and institutions which are well-rooted in the core Anglosphere are often less so in India. There is a higher degree of intra-religious animosity, leading on occasion to rather spectacular riots. There is a higher degree of family control over marriage decisions. One could go on.

India was not a country of settlement like the core Anglosphere countries. It was an ancient civilization which had a violent and costly, but in many ways fruitful, encounter with Britain. The millions of anglophone Indians whom Verity mentions in the comments are much like the Indian neighbors and colleagues I have known here in Chicago. Yes, they are part of the Anglosphere. And the Indians who have gone back to India to start businesses are also part of the Anglosphere. But India itself, as distinct from particular people or communities, is a civilization unto itself which has a special relationship with the Anglosphere, and which participates in the Anglosphere, and which has individuals and communities which are part of the Anglosphere, and which has made immense contributions ot the Anglosphere -- but it is still a meaningful distinction to say that India is not a core Anglosphere country.

Australia, for example is simply a daughter polity of mother England, and other influences have been distinctly secondary. India however was a vast and ancient and influential civilization unto itself, which has become enmeshed with the Anglosphere, but it is not a daughter polity. Australia's identity is Anglospheric, but India' s encounter with the Anglosphere is an episode in its millenium-spanning history -- a critical one, to be sure -- but it is not a defining episode in the way that the English settlement of North America was for the USA or Anglo-Canada. India's identity is Indian, with Anglospheric influences.

None of this in any way denigrates India. The Indians I know are well aware (1) that being conquered by England had some positive effects, but (2) that India is it's own country with its own life and that it was right and proper that it end colonialism and be independent and assert its own identity. One of the most heartening developments I am seeing is that the Indians have the cultural confidence to be forthright about maintaining things they inherited or adopting things they have learned from the British or the Americans, and applying them to their own country without having any inferiority complexes about it. These influences, far from being "cultural imperialism", are means for India to best achieve its potential. And, of course, the Indian cultural influence on the Anglosphere is large and growing. The future will, I suspect, and hope, see a more Indian-influenced Anglosphere, and vice-versa.

Posted by Lexington Green at October 31, 2005 09:36 PM

One of Tom Barnett's main points in advancing his "Pentagon's New Map" thesis is that the "Globalization = Americanization" meme will be dead within 20 years because of the contributions of India and China to world culture. Trade, by definition, is a two-way street.

I'm not sure I believe him though. Globablization has had very strong Continental European and Japanese elements to it for decades now, but people still think of Globalization as Americanization because even though the Japs "do" globalization, we do it best on every front. I'm waiting to see if India and China can really grow and contribute to world culture. (And merely re-creating their ethnic art in new media doesn't count. I want to know if they can really create something NEW, and add to art, political thought, philosophy, etc. of Earth.) I am more confident in India in that regard.

Posted by: Brock at October 31, 2005 10:26 PM

I am 100% confident in India. If the rupee were traded on the foreign exchanges, I would have bought into it ages ago. On the other hand, I don't know that India has a duty or a will to "contribute to world culture". I expect they set their own priorities, like everyone else. Just because, to us, they're exotic doesn't mean they have to get into that ethnic crap - unless some entrepreneur decides there's a market for it. Then they'll churn out Ganeshes and wheels of Ashoka by the boatload.

I think the minds that invented the concept of zero and invented "Arabic" numerals are more than competent to take their nation forward in their own way.

Of China, I know nothing, although, having lived in Singapore I do know a little of the Chinese mind. The creative arts aren't of that much interest to them. That's not to say, of course, that there are no creative Chinese people. There are but they aren't, as a rule, as highly valued as they are in the West. The Chinese genius is for forward planning, and making money, and I believe these talents will serve them well. A rich, contented China will be good for all of us, even if they don't come up with any variations on the Dragon Dance or the cheong-sam.

India will play a cooperative role in the Anglosphere. China walks on its own.

Posted by: Verity at November 1, 2005 07:12 AM

Lex writes: "It is not 'either/or' or 'in/out' of the Anglosphere. It is a matter of degrees of participation." With respect, Lex, this is the kind of thing I would expect more from a Brit than an American. When the British start any club or association, the first item on the agenda always seems to be: "Who can we exclude?" and "Who should the inner circle be? Who gets full membership and who should be associate members?"

Lex continues: "The USA, UK, Anglo-Canada, Australia, NZ are "core" areas because of very high degrees of commonality in language, law, business practices, cultural norms, etc." With the possible exception of 'cultural norms', everything in the previous sentence applies to India.

And so do most 'cultural norms'. One wife. Women wear make-up and dress to make themselves look as alluring as possible. The family unit is the prime unit of society. Women vote, stand for office, get advanced degrees,buy cars and drive them, own businesses, enter the professions and go out to work. Indians drink socially. They like going out to restaurants as families or a with friend. Two women friends will meet for dinner without any hint of self-consciousness. As we do.

Most don't eat beef. Most British and American Jews don't eat pork. Many are vegetarian, but so are many Westerners, at least to some extent. It's not exactly an alien concept.

Cultural differences are mainly religious (although Hinduism isn't a religion per se)and benign. Like Judaism, Hinduism is not a proselytising belief system. In fact, they don't want converts.

This is why they fit in so well and prosper when they emigrate to the West.

There really is no rational reason for Indians not to be equal members. Anyway, that is what will come about whether anyone says nay or not. We can only benefit.

Posted by: Verity at November 1, 2005 08:49 AM

Great conversation, we need some Indians though!

Whether they are or not core doesn't really matter at one point in time. The question is whether they will be in 5,10,20 years?

That is where I feel the anglosphere can benifit the most. Business salivate over China, which I cannot understand.

India is on a path and they have blueprints they can follow. From what I can see they will, over time, become more and more like anglo countries. If they continue on this path they will be a dominent power next to the US.

The relationship needs to be nudged as much as possible. Just as Americans and the British formed the core in creating the world as we know it, India will be the next country to help change the world alongside us.

China is Communist and in the past. They still have a notion that its their way or no way. They want to be the only superpower. While America is the sole superpower it wouldn't be so strong without the support of other anglo countries.

When you think of the US military you have to include the British and Aussie military also. In 20 years I believe we will be able to say US, British, Aussie, and Indian military. Remember India is very wary of China, they may form commercial relationships but will be adversarial for being a dominent power in the region because China cares so much to be so.

Posted by: jGeee at November 1, 2005 09:39 AM

I agree. I will try to get an Indian friend to post, jGeee. For sure, he will have an opinion, as all Indians do, about everything. I'll also ask him to email his grown son in India and architect daughter in Canada and see if they want to join in!

China will take a long time to stop thinking of itself as The Middle Kingdom and part of the rest of the world, but it will happen. Whether it will become aggressive probably depends on how strong everyone else - meaning the Anglosphere - is.

Posted by: Verity at November 1, 2005 10:00 AM

Thanks, Lex, you said it much better than I did.

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at November 1, 2005 05:03 PM

I see that no one gave a wry smile when I wrote that India is at least an undeniable crore area.

Posted by: Verity at November 2, 2005 07:30 AM

Crore. Ha. Had to look it up.

Posted by: Lex at November 2, 2005 08:21 AM

I see that Apollo Hospitals, an Indian chain that offers state of the art medical care in state of the art facilities, has signed a MoU with Johns Hopkins. All medical procedures are done at Apollo Hospitals in several big Indian cities, at around one-quarter the cost of the same procedures in the US. They are so well-regarded that Blue Cross/Blue Shield pays off on procedures done there. Telemedicine and second opinions are going to be included in the agreement.

One more advantage of being in the Anglosphere: We don't have to leave our native language to get superb, low cost medical treatment. Already a lot of diagnostic work is done overnight in India and available on an American doctor's computer when he gets into the office the next morning.

I think this is a terribly exciting time we're living in. The Anglosphere is dawning.

Posted by: Verity at November 2, 2005 02:25 PM

Well don't count globalization = Americanization out yet. China is mainly creating cheap goods, not things like movies, software, and whatnot. China is acting as the US' manufacturing center, building what the US wants. India is famous for doing a lot of the services that goes on in US companies, because they speak English. There's still quite a lot more ways for those nations to go before they want to start creating their own businesses and advancing their cultures, if there's much left after it's already been inundated by the West that is.

My political forum

Posted by: roger at July 6, 2007 10:46 PM
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