Though I dress very traditionally (salwar kameez , plaited hair , oil in hair – my choice), my business as an online publisher is related to domain names and web hosting which is “high tech” by Indian standards and I often wonder why my way of thinking is so different from others. I grew up in Goa in the 70’s and 80’s when it still had a strong Portuguese influence (it was liberated from portugal in 1961), admission to IIT Bombay was based on merit and Larsen & Toubro where I worked in the 1990’s had a European / professional work culture. In last decade I have devoted almost all my time to my business and have had a very limited interaction with typical / traditional Indian families.
Reading “Mistaken Modernity” by Dipankar Gupta was a revelation, it shows that though people may be outwardly modern in the clothes and their material possessions, many of them are not modern in their thinking , they lack the ability to appreciate merit or innovate.
The section on the status of women in the chapter “Tenacious Traditions”, explains why I am almost always incorrectly addressed as “Sir” instead “Miss” especially when I enquire about technical stuff like USB to SATA / IDE cables . It also touches on why rumours (which are often baseless and not supported by facts) flourish in India and why so many people believe them.
If you are planning an ecommerce (or related) business then Chapter 3, It Just Isn’t Cricket is a must read. The author has described a modern society as one in which the achievements and hard work of the individual are recognised and laws are the same for everyone. However changing the mindset of people takes time.
Mistaken Modernity, India between worlds by Dipankar Gupta
Publishers : HarperCollins India with The India Today Group, Fourth Impression : 2007