…is neither here nor there. Sudhir Shah makes out a case for why immigrants must integrate with the society of their adoptive country
THERE IS a marked difference between Indians who have migrated to USA under the family category and as students. The distinction is manifestly visible in their thoughts and deeds. Students from India who enter USA for the purpose of studying and then settle down acquire contemporary tradidions and thoughts. By intermingling with American students and students from all over the world they shed tlieir traditional Indian orthodox mentalities arid gain an international outlook. Their vision expands and they begin to look beyond the narrow compass of relinion, caste and creed. They become liberal in their thoughts and tolerant in their deeds.
Instead of having a false pride in Indian culture and tradition, they learn what culture really means and why traditions should not be blindly adhered to. They learn to value the cultures of other countries and respect the traditions of other religions and people. They then spread Indian culture in its right perspective an uphold Indian traditions in a dignified way. They blend with the Americans who are themselves a mixture of different cultures and traditions and truly become Americans. They belong to India as well as America.
As apposed this, Indians who have traveled and settled in USA on account of family ties are normally backward in their education as well as their thinking. Their main object is to be with their family and pursue whatever their family is engaged in so as to earn their livelihood. The fact that they are in one of the world’s most democratic, liberal and advanced countries makes. no difference to them. Except for wearing jeans and calling themselves Peter instead of Petigara and Suzie instead of Sushila, they remain typically ‘desi’. They do not endeavour to learn anything American. They remain amongst their own people, eat the same food, speak the same native language, watch the same Indian movies, don’t want their children to go out on dates and when they grow up to marry someone from India from their own caste and community.
Despite earning in dollars, they constantly convert dollars into rupees and always think of the difference in the official and unofficial rate of exchange. At every possible opportunity they try ‘to earn by entering into transactions called ‘havala’ prohibited by indian laws.
Knowing the American way of business, which always trusts a customer, they cheat, and after using a product return it back on false pretexts. These people, as in India, also try to avoid paying taxes though they would be the first to claim social security and also expect that all benefits available to natural born Americans be made available to them too. For fear of undergoing compulsory military training and going to war they avoid becoming American Citizens but desire all the benefits of an American Citizen as a Green Card holder.
Such family-migrated males in USA also firmly believe that their son must beget a son for the family name to continue, that God has given legs to women to walk from bedroom to kitchen only and it is okay when a man has extramarital affairs, but a divorce by the wife is taboo and a widow should not remarry. Even young children who settle down in VSA permanently on account of family ties are unable to discard their Indian thoughts and beliefs since though they are in America they continue to grow under their typical orthodox family umbrella. They learn American slang and foul words quickly but not the American liberal approach and the American way of rational thinking.
The behaviour of such Indian migrants makes them outcasts in America. They are unable to mix with fellow Americans socially nor do they attempt to do so. Due to their typical attitude of avoiding and condemning American ways of living and thinking, the Americans do not accept them as one amongst them. This once again makes them cling to their own fellow Indians and the circle goes on.
These Indians in America try to create India there. But when they visit India they condemn India, Indian people, Indian traditions and Indian culture. They find Indian roads and people dirty forgetting that their own localities in USA are not particularly clean. In India they forget that the price of properties where Indians live has gone down and Americans try and avoid living where Indians have their colonies.
They try to show off before their native Indian relatives by offering them cheap gifts of China bought by them at X’mas sales. But their Indian friends and relatives are now aware of the reality. They are now no longer impressed by their American accent or ‘ninetynine cents – buy two get one free’ gifts.
Indian parents are now not willing to give their daughters in marriage to these Indians living in America. Not only are they no longer envied and respected, but now they are not wanted. Such Indians living in America should mingle with Americans as the Parsis mingled with Indians when they migrated to India. Otherwise they would remain neither here nor there!