Cross Cultural Issues

Topic was about Indian culture and about cross cultural issues. Dr. Ali spoke about the Indian culture and traditions. He said that the Indian civilization is an ancient one where in due to the invasions over a period of time many other cultures also have influenced the Indian culture. Within India we have various cultures and traditions and also various languages.

Place: Long Island University, Cunningham Road
Date: 21 Jan 2011
Time: 9.45 a.m to 11. a.m
People gathered: 20 students

When the British and Mughals invaded India, they brought in their culture with them. Due to this we have various categories. The original inhabitants of our country are the Dravidian (who are now in South India) and the Aryans came to India from north Asia and settled in North India.

India also has various languages and sub-languages. The states in India are divided based on the languages that people speak in that area. In South India we have four major languages. Karnataka has majority of the people speaking Kannada. Kerala has its major population speaking Malayalam,. Tamil Nadu has people speaking Tamil and Andhra Pradesh has its majority of the people speaking Telugu.

cross cultural issuesIndia has two national festivals, one being the Independence day celebrated on the 15th of August. India got its independence on August 15th 1947. and another national festival is the republic day, celebrated on 26th of January. The Indian constitution came into existence on this day of 1950, and after this the formation of states came.

Unlike in south India, north India has a common language of Hindi which people can understand thought there are many languages in north India also. It is common language there and people from all states tend to know the language. Hindi is also the national language of India.   

Because the British had ruled India for many decades English was know as the most prestigious language, if anybody knew English they were regarded very highly and also respectable jobs were given to them.

As far as India is considered, due to poverty and superstitions not many people were traveling to other countries, especially the western countries. Even the word 'westernised' is considered as a very dirty word. This is due to various reasons. One is because people have this feeling that the British had suppressed for a very long time and these people develop a kind of hatred towards the language and even the people. That is also the reason why one may find some Indians not co-operating with them.

cross cultural issuesAnother reason why some do not like the foreigners is because they feel that they are very modernized and not valuing their customs and traditions. For example, speaking to elders with respect or giving consideration to age is regarded important by Indians unlike in western countries. Elders in the family are consulted for all important decisions to be taken even today.

Though there is a lot of connectivity today due to the above reasons westernizations is still not recognised and no importance is given to westerns.     

Question 1: What do we do to make sure that Indians understood what we have conveyed?
Answer: We do understand English, but the only difference in the language between you and us is the pronunciation.  Your way of pronunciation of the words is very different from ours. Hence you can go a little slow when you are talking, or even repeating the important words a few times will also help in conveying the message acoss.

cross cultural issuesQuestion 2: Is it better to greet people in English or in the local language?
Answer: People will feel very happy if you greet them in their language. But see to it that it does not look very artificial or just a method to impress them. You can may be start by greeting each other by saying 'Namaste' every morning instead of saying 'Good Morning'. And once you feel comfortable you can greet the locals as it would come very naturally. Or another method that you can use is by saying both 'Namaste, Good Morning' and let people make the choice of taking what they like.

cross cultural issuesQuestion 3: What should a student understand about Indian People, as we will be staying in India for a long time?
Answer: Try and understand that for most Indians you are a traveler, and they are not really interested to know from which country you come from. What is important for them is that they make extra money from selling you any articles. You can make them understand that you are a student, and the purpose that you have come to India. Maybe some people will not only accept you but may also be willing to help you with what ever informations you want to know. But the most important thing is that you convey to them the proper message.

cross cultural issuesQuestion 4: How do we get the proper information from people?
Answer: First of all it is very important that you learn to understand the hierarchy system that prevails here. This is very essential as it will give you an idea as to how you can approach people of various age groups. For example the elderly people are addressed as Uncle or Aunty, not because they are uncles or aunts this is a kind of respect that is given to them and they also do not like themselves to be called by only their names.

Question 5: How do pass on this message that we are not being rude, but we do not know how converse in the method that prevails here?
Answer: Say so, tell them that since you do not know the customs that are in India you may seem very rude, but that is not so. You just want to know about a particular subject or culture because you are a student and doing a research about the subject etc. When people throughly understand your purpose I can assure you this that they will definitely be very willing to help you.

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