East and West

By Administrator 123erty

I was a part of learning group recently, and the tea break turned into a brisk discussion about research work. Many comments poured forth, admiring research ethics of western world. So our learning group pondered whether the western mindset is more adept at conducting research work? Is it possible that professional integrity, in this sphere of work, may not be widespread in India? The western mindset seems willing to discuss and debate issues patiently before stating conclusions. They may have beliefs regarding issues, but are willing to listen to other points of view. In contrast, the eastern method of expression seems to be more intuitive. Perhaps it appears as if it is not well debated.

In another discussion regarding deeper level culture changes, comments from participants outlined these suggestions: such things are not possible in India; maybe it is not necessary; etc. This reminds us of Rudyard Kipling’s words “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. Let’s think about this for a moment: Can we call ourselves truly belonging to a particular culture? Why do we define ourselves in ways that don’t exist anymore? Is it not true we have learned to adopt working methods from other cultures?

This blog is inspired by teachers and students alike. Students returning from internships in Japan shared some observations and lessons learned (such learning experiences make a lasting impression for the learner and adds superb value). A common cleaning worker practicing great discipline, mentions that they were taught to practice good quality in work, even in menial tasks. We wondered in our class session, do these qualities become ingrained in them over period of a few generations? This is something to consider and set aspirations about (how many times have we heard “If only we can get some of our own public service systems to function well, like in other countries”). Then the unavoidable debate about the “Indian” mindset happens….. (read “sarcastic”)

I believe that the Indian corporate world is setting good standards, which would slowly and surely affect other zones of Indian life. It already brings home various lessons from different cultures of the world. It has already made younger Indian generations to aspire for a much “better” working style (read “somewhat western”) than previous generations, while keeping their “comfortable” home life style (read “mostly eastern”). Speaking of learning, the work of learning itself needs a good amount of melding the two approaches. Some debating, some intuiting (sometimes, cramming for an exam….. this seems to be a universal student quality….. nothing east or west here!)

Perhaps it is unwise to discriminate against some cultures as inadequate for the modern world or sort them as archaic. Conceivably, the need to change culture comes from professional necessities. We often find in India, people living in a bi-cultural world. We don’t strictly use the western mindset in all phases of our lives. There are times when we all fall back into our own style (ishtyle, if you please) of functioning. Should we say, if it works well then nothing could be wrong with this? Mr. Kipling had wiser conclusions. The full meaning of the poem emerges:

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

Comments are welcome…. Happy blogging! Happy Learning!


KiplingReference: The Ballad of East and West, poem by Rudyard Kipling, published 1889.






In Pic: Rudyard Kipling


Prof. Saravan – SCIT