“East is East, West is West and never the twain shall meet” – Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Ballad of East and West”. We at Great Lakes believe it has met considering our motto of, “Global mindset, Indian roots”. Do you subscribe to this view? If so, why and how? If not, why not? (min 200 max 400 words)
I believe that global changes over the past hundred years have meant that the twain between the East and the West has indeed met.
When Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem in the late nineteenth century, his opinions of the Eastern and Western civilizations must have been shaped by the perceived dichotomies between the societies in India and his motherland Britain. These dichotomies would have included differences in the political structure with one having a representative government while much of the other was under traditional monarchies, differences in educational structures, with one emphasizing writing and analytical thought and the other emphasizing memorization and meta-physical thought, differences in economic structure with one an industrial powerhouse and the other largely agrarian, and differences in social customs and traditions, exemplified by practices such as child marriage and sati. Given the political and social contexts of his time, these differences would have seemed insurmountable barriers to inter-civilizational relations.
However, tremendous changes over the past century have meant that most of these barriers have either disappeared or been greatly reduced. Thanks to the international dissemination of ideas, both the East and the West have mutually moved closer to each other. Eastern societies such as India, Japan and Singapore have seen value in adopting Western political systems that emphasise representative democracy, women’s rights and egalitarianism, and Western education systems that emphasise skills in writing, mathematics and science, while Western societies have eagerly embraced Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Hinduism, and Eastern practices such as Yoga. We increasingly see a convergence of linguistic interests, with English being adopted as the de facto universal lingua franca, economic interests flowing from globalization, and political interests such as in tackling climate change, international piracy and international terrorism. The diffusion of ideas brought about by tourism, cinema, literature and student exchanges has led to a radical change in the way the East and West perceive each other. This profusion of ideas has lead to the realization that each society has much to gain from the experiences and expertise of the other.
Given the intertwining of interests and the momentum we see in bridging international barriers, I believe that cultural cooperation and assimilation between the East and the West is here to stay.
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