We May Settle Abroad, But We Still Don’t Know How To Be A Global Citizen

Posted by Aariz Imam in GlobeScope, Specials
June 13, 2018

Apart from the “free market” critique of globalisation in the context of its failure in checking rising income inequality, its failures on other fronts are much less talked about. Free flow of labour may have momentarily secured livelihoods of people in developing countries but it has also failed to develop a global citizen in them. If the people in the developed world have treated the expatriate workers as mere resources and manhours in their construction schedule, the workers on their part have also been less receptive to the diversity on offer. It’s more like wherever we travel, our biases and prejudices accompany us lock stock and barrel. Where identities in foreign lands should have been used to forge larger solidarities with strangers from different places, the nuances therein are dug up to project the superiority of self. We remain split in various silos based on our race, rituals, caste and culinary habits. Our accent defines which channel we are fit to be tuned into. Our skills, expertise, knowledge and abilities determine amongst which groups we should be affiliated to.

The vulnerability of common folks to cultural influences overseas is intriguing, specifically when juxtaposed with rigid biases and prejudices they reserve for the brothers from their motherland who have migrated along with them.

One of the possible explanations for this contrasting behaviour could be a lack of awareness about the outside world back at home. This, in turn, could be rooted in either ignorance of the world geography among educated folks or a complete lack of knowledge about the world as it is among the lesser privileged and largely uneducated people. This in itself could be the consequence of a mad rush for education in sciences among the former and failure of governments to provide basic education facilities among the latter.

Irrespective of the nuanced differences behind the reasons for their vulnerability, the expatriate’s interaction with the world outside knows no class barriers. Though this intermingling augurs well for India’s image, it also raises doubt about the nature and character of this lapping up of culture.

Immediately after having touched upon the foreign shore, which is the Arab countries in most cases, you find a sudden role reversal of many a cultural Nazi – the flag bearer of monolithic identity, the likes of which are in abundance among Muslims as well. People who were adept at mocking the different languages and dialects back at home take no time to get conversant with the language of the foreign land, along with the food and customs the new world has to offer. The reluctance in accepting the diversity on home soil is balanced out by warming up to new tribes abroad.

Another reason that crosses the mind for the common susceptibility could be explained by a general tendency to get overawed by the rich, mighty and powerful. The charm that oozes out from the luxurious lifestyle of the natives gives rise to aspirations that subdue one’s otherwise prejudiced upbringing. Much like how for the rest of the country it was the American Dream that had the effect of moderating their worldview in favour of everything American, for Muslims it was the Middle East Dream that did them in. What America and the west did with their charm and sophistry, the Middle East did with its concrete deserts. One of the reasons America managed to escape criticism for its illegitimate wars owes to its ability at creating a positive worldview about itself. The same applied to the Middle East kingdoms which succeeded in spreading their religious ideology courtesy their image of being benefactors. This among many stands out as the starkest of features of this blind cultural worship.

The advantages and disadvantages of the expats’ heartwarming overtures withstanding, there is sufficient evidence to prove that the process of becoming a truly global citizen via a split personality is only as much complete.