TODAY -

Can we be modern without being western?

Prof Elangbam Bijoykumar *

Nozomi Shinkansen or 'Bullet Train' at Tokyo Station Nozomi Shinkansen or 'Bullet Train' at Tokyo Station " - Pix : wikipedia

For me, a new year's day has always been a day of contemplation. My current obsession is thinking of the many drivers of growth of this region. I always wonder whether we are trying to understand the process of change from a wrong perspective by using wrong and highly inappropriate framework.

It is common to ask what the north east can export when we talk about export led growth. Do we ask a sick man what he can do? Let him be alright and then the question is sensible.

On my way to Mumbai recently to attend the Golden jubilee celebration of the Indian Econometric society of which I am an executive committee member I was reading Martin Jacques' "When China rules the world" and there was one chapter about Japan with an intriguing title " Japan - Modern but hardly western".

We all know what Japan has achieved and more than anything, the commitment of the ruling elite to simultaneously change and preserve their culture against the western onslaught was responsible for transformation of japan at a breakneck speed. It is said in lighter vein that Japan after surpassing all its goals has now lost the purpose of existence.

The question is in her quest for development, has Japan become as westernized? What remnants of the old japan still play an important role? If such remnants have survived in japan, they need to be understood for replicability and perhaps under a different framework.

The desire to preserve the Japanese essence their customs, institutions and values and the willingness to absorb foreign elements as and when these are required have been the building blocks for modern Japan.

If japan could have developed with the Japanese essence, could we also have developed in a similar manner? Then many of the perennial questions would have been answered. What we consider wrong from the western perspective could have been right from the indigenous perspective.

The Japanese are averse to the use of law and avoid the process of litigation. Virtually all cases are settled by conciliation. The results of a survey show that 46% Japanese respondents felt that gender roles should be determined freely as against 81% of Americans and 92% of French respondents.

42% of Japanese respondents considered work to be very important as against 9% of American and 7% of English respondents. Japanese expectations of the workplace are also very different.

Most of us would rate opportunities for promotion as a very important factor in our workplace. We may not be interested in joining any work where there is no opportunity for promotion.

However, only 6% of the Japanese respondents considered opportunities for promotion to be important as against 66% of American respondents. 70% of Japanese respondents gave high importance to good interpersonal relations at work.

We love breaking rules. If we follow the rules much of our problems would have been very different.46% of the Japanese respondents felt that established rules should always be followed. Only 15% endorsed the view that it was alright to break the rules depending on circumstances.

Unlike the American or European civilizations which claim to be universal, the Japanese defined themselves to be on the periphery of these civilizations. The Japanese had persistently affirmed their difference from the Chinese and westerners.

Some serious contemplation is called for to identify the dynamic elements of change. There must be something to support a thriving civilization in an inhospitable region for thousands of years. It is hard to believe that sixty years have demolished the essence of a 2000 years old civilization.

The relationship has been such that instead of making us self-reliant we have been led to a path of dependency. The growing dependency syndrome is strategically used to show how backward we are. The tragedy is - we have come to believe this. What we need to do is to learn to think independently using the logic of Japan and other East Asian tigers. To me the intangibles of India's Look East policy far outweigh the tangibles at least for the north east.

One of the most important intangible benefits of the policy is the regaining of self-confidence. When we come face to face with the entrepreneurs of the east, imagining ourselves to be on the top just like them is much easier.

It enhances belief in the self. I always remember the bumblebee whose body structure is not for flight. It does not know it and flies all the way. Self-confidence is a very strong factor for growth not only for the individual but for the entire society.

Chainarol, the rules of combat exemplifies the confidence and sacrifice of the warriors. Our society had it and misplaced it. Sometimes the difficulties one faces make one a more complete person enriched with the multitude of experience.

The strength of our society is the willingness to learn from others. We have successfully enriched India by our contributions. Unlearning is the other side of the coin. We can also unlearn the lessons that have outlived their utility.

What is the use of carrying a baggage of such lessons? To be modern is not necessarily being western. One can be modern as uniquely as Japan.

When we grow on our own on a solid foundation, the emerging scenario is very different from where we have been led to by our growth. Our culture, our ethos, I believe, holds the key to our rebirth.


* Prof E. Bijoykumar Singh wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
The writer is from Economics Department, Manipur University
This article was posted on January 04, 2014.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • DESAM Protest- remove MU VC : Gallery
  • Konung Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Unbiased Retake Manipur University Issues
  • BoSEM Imbroglio: Educational smuggling
  • Jobs available in NIELIT centers
  • Commanding Officer-i-c must be punished
  • Public official's escorts assault lawyer
  • Is Govt underestimating MU Community
  • MU impasses : Getting uglier
  • Art Exhibit @Imphal Art College #1 : Gallery
  • HSLC students @ Chalwa, KPI : Gallery
  • Arambam Modhu Kalabhusan-Lairik Haiba
  • Interferences in private school affairs
  • Diagnostic Testing Phases -complexities
  • The Kite Runner :: Poem
  • Call for joint mass protest at New Delhi
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Manipur CM warns of extreme steps
  • Naga civil society playing key role
  • This will be an Acid test for N. Biren
  • Best option : A graceful exit ..for Pandey
  • Kang Khichri chaba @Kwakeithel : Gallery
  • Plastic Surgery Day @RIMS : Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @Keishampat : Gallery
  • Human rights of women in our society
  • AFSPA Gesture and Better Alternative
  • Leisure :: Poem
  • Restore Life After Burns : Plastic Surgery
  • IM accuses AR of 'cold-blooded murder'
  • Konung Kang Chingba #1 : Gallery
  • Dont waste searching for word/phrases
  • Hill People & Merger of Manipur
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #5
  • U-Mangra for biofuel for economic devpt
  • Painting competition on environment
  • Condemn Moreh terror attack
  • Climbing Shirui Hills, Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Ichangthoubi, Thotmungchan :: eMing
  • Kang Chingba - Rath Yatra : Book
  • Why the impasse at Manipur University
  • Condolence Message for Tamenglong
  • Maharaj parleys Bizando
  • Opt for fruit/vegetable beauty product
  • DG Assam Rifles meets Governor
  • Recreation - a Serious Business
  • Tuilha Kolt waterfall @Kpi #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Lamjing Meira Ningsing Numit #2 : Gallery
  • Who Created the Border Pillar Conflict ?
  • EEVFAM amidst Numbness and Noise
  • Special Olympics Unified Cup 2018
  • Path for youth's bright future
  • Addressing core issues
  • Students Vs Centre's man : MU
  • Thangjam Manorama Anniversary: Gallery
  • A reflection on POCSO Act, 2012
  • Fear :: Poem
  • War veterans laboured to clean compound
  • Free Career Counselling Program
  • NEFIS writes to University bodies
  • Sit-in-Protest Against House Search
  • 50th World Population Day celebrated
  • Something worrying
  • Congress : 2 days session too short
  • Jadugi Chei :: Funga Wari
  • Tribal protest for MU normalcy : Gallery
  • Framework Agreement: What is it ?
  • Some cairns from the way: Artist's retake #2
  • Cry of a Dying River # 36 :: Poem
  • Overview on Manipur University imbroglio
  • Tribal Students memo to HRD on MU
  • India-Vietnam Film Show 2018 at Delhi
  • Why the CM is helpless ?
  • No end in sight to MU crisis
  • Indo-Myanmar Pillar 81 @Kwatha #1: Gallery
  • Global Bamboo Congress @Beijing : Gallery
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #4
  • Kamesh Salam : Speaker at BARC, Beijing
  • Career in Cooperatives
  • Nagaland CM's speech at NEC
  • NPF Rejoinder to JD (U) of July 9
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Unfair Game
  • Expecting documentary proof from villagers
  • Lamjing Meira Ningsing Numit #1 : Gallery
  • Woken Youth Clubs in season of World Cup
  • Converting tourism potential into reality
  • Let me live in your heart :: Poem
  • D-Jent.... Djentleman... Anyone ?
  • Socialism or destruction of humanity ?
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Demand action against KSO activists
  • 3 Manipur girls in BCCI U-19 squad
  • Rights meet on bill outcome
  • Naga integration will be democratic..
  • Ichangi Laidhi #3 :: eRang
  • Modernizing Manipur University Library
  • In the grip of nothingness :: Poem
  • Password protection - I
  • Congenital Heart Defect operated
  • Hill area bandh relaxed temporarily
  • State & central govt must stop conflict
  • Cohesion is sports
  • Explain 'devious purpose'
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur merger agreement 1947
  • Wari Jalsa at New Delhi
  • Congress grass menace in North-East
  • M A Thomas National Human Rights Award
  • What does worry do to us ?
  • Is Manipur a part of India ?
  • Rumours of child lifters : Dangerous
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #3 : Gallery
  • Forest Rights Act 2006 -context of Manipur
  • Supreme Court Hearing on EEVFAM case
  • Cry of a Dying River - 35 :: Poem
  • Terirama Th. met South Korea's first lady
  • Securing security cameras: invisible eye
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland CM's statement
  • Meitei Mayek - are the scales tipped now
  • Patronising non-locals : Nail the insiders
  • UNC oppose indefinite Manipur bandh
  • Tribal University @ Senapati : Gallery
  • Rally to remove MU VC #2 : Gallery
  • Some cairns from the way: Artist's retake #1
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #3
  • UN experts on 'fake encounter' killings
  • Nagaland CM Rio statement on July 4
  • Condemns inhuman eviction by Govt
  • Trainees Certificate of RPL at Kamrup
  • Minor reunited with mother after 26 days
  • Non-Operative Closure of "hole in the heart"
  • We are for the people, for the society
  • Over 30 days : Centre sleeps, MU 'burns'
  • Thokchom Brindashabi Devi :: Profile
  • Kshetri-bengoon Eviction Protest : Gallery
  • Successive pay commissions: It's impact
  • Research Support @ R-Square Design
  • leingakki thouwong - state terrorism
  • Rebuttal: Interview of Ranju Singh
  • Different forces pulling Manipur : Lim
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #3 : Gallery
  • Some ideas for prevention of flood
  • Satisfaction :: Poem
  • Supreme Court hearing on EEVFAM - 2 July
  • Dark lips .. causes and care
  • Training on Handloom Weaver at Hojai
  • CME on 'Congenital Heart Diseases'
  • Nagaland CM should make his stand clear
  • 2019 LS polls : BJP on the offensive
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #4 : Gallery
  • Naga American conference in California
  • Life of an army officer's daughter
  • The Winter Blues :: Poem
  • 16th Mega Miss North East
  • NDPP on Naga integration
  • Allegations against VC holds no ground
  • Rally to remove MU VC #1 : Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • A Washed-Out Summer Vacation in MU
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #2
  • My short interaction with Penna Donna
  • 9th Men Mega Mister North East
  • Memo submitted to Kiren Rijiju
  • India- no interest to protect its boundary
  • Idea of who is a citizen of the land
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #3 : Gallery
  • Dr Thingnam Kishan Memorial : Gallery
  • Black sheep in movement for ILPS #3
  • Our Common Crisis: What are We to Do #2
  • Jackichand Singh signs for FC Goa
  • No co-operation to MU VC
  • Nagaland CM contradicting himself : NPF
  • Career Guidance Workshop at Ukhrul
  • The tales of a forgotten University
  • Pulling at idea of Manipur : Lim, ATC
  • Climbing Shirui Hills, Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • Moirangthem Arup: 90 Km Marathon, Africa
  • Pitfalls on land acquisition for Mapithel Dam
  • Chinese dominance in 21st century
  • Caring for the elderly
  • IIT-G's Technothlon prelims at UAE
  • Mass Rally from Manipur University
  • Nagaland CM releases book by teenager
  • Why trying to dictate media time & again
  • MU, border pillar, Citizenship Bill
  • Oinam Dilip's Painting Exhibition
  • Intl Day Against Drug Abuse : Gallery
  • The Manipur Merger Agreement 1949
  • A road to Mandalay
  • Keeping up: medical diagnostics tech
  • The mother of all preventive strategies
  • Relief camps for Flood affected families
  • The dark side of Indian democracy
  • From three time CM to Oppn leader
  • Khumang Pokpa Haraoba #1 : Gallery
  • Enduring Theatre of Guerrilla War
  • Intl Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • Impact of trade & floods on economy
  • Imparting training as profession #2
  • Najmaji's flood fixing formula
  • History of Yoga
  • Intl Day against Drug Abuse
  • Politicising MU issue: by whom ?
  • Effective ban on plastics needed
  • Thaunaphaba Marup :: Funga Wari
  • Naga Nationalism & Naga Integration
  • Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 #1
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #3 : Gallery
  • Mova Cave, Hungpung, Ukhrul #1 : Gallery
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #2 : Gallery
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Garlic Festival @Ukhrul #4 :: Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS