Collectivist, yet Individualist

'When it comes to co-existence of Individualism and Collectivism in other societies, it’s more often an either/or situation. Ingeniously, India seems to have developed a culture where Individualism and Collectivism can co-exist, perhaps, even striking a happy balance.

Music is deemed as collective. But if one notices Indian classical music keenly, there is always space for individual expression; the accompanists—be it the tabla player or the sitarist—will more often than not have the spotlight on them, as they get ample space to display their mettle. It is harmonic, collective and, yet, acknowledges the individual’s contribution.

When two forces interact with full gusto—one, powerful and all-pervasive, the other, intrinsically deep-rooted—the impact could go well beyond one prevailing over the other. A unique third force may well emerge. In many ways, India may develop differently to the countries that have witnessed economic booms. So, Consumerism or Individualism as we see it today perhaps will not create any significant wear and tear of our ethos. India’s inherent ease in managing contradictions and the ability to adapt and juxtapose—rather than oppose and displace—the old with the new will shine forth even more in the future.

It is no doubt difficult to remain true to one’s ethos and at the same time become a world citizen. But, chances are, that the new invader shall be assimilated and a new hue imparted to the rich Indian culture.'

- Prasoon Joshi, 'The Bhog Economy'.


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