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There is concern among certain quarters of the western and eastern world that ýthe we are headed towards a dull uniformity. These people are anti-globalisers, and Jose ýBove, the French farmer who trashed a McDonald's restaurant, is their hero. Their ýbugbear is 'corporatisation'. ý

ý"How can they corporatise a saree?" wails Arundhati Roy. ý

Quite successfully, in fact. Mass production of sarees like readymade garments ýý will make apparels affordable for the ordinary woman, and her standard of living will ýrise. ý

Arundhati Roy bewails the future disappearance of masala dosas and sundry ýother indigenous grub: McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell ýwill dish out standardised fast food to be gobbled up by the unthinking masses. ý

Doomsayers had similarly predicted the 'globalisation' of entertainment. Soon, ýthey prophesied, we would all be watching Hollywood sex-and-violence on the small as ýwell as the big screen. ý

A gloomy picture indeed. ý

More and more young people are wearing Levi's jeans and denim skirts. Pizza ýHut has opened a branch in Dhaka, and the custom is said to be grand. Wimpey has ýseveral branches, and they can't be doing too badly. And, of course, fast food shops have ýburgeoned all over town. The days when Canton and Chung Hwa were the only foreign ýrestaurants in Dhaka have long been over. And these western meals are washed down ýwith plenty of fizzy (western) drinks. Prima facie, the standardisation of the world has ýalready come to pass. ý

This shocking indictment calls for a meditative pause, like a lower-court verdict ýreaching the appellate division of reason. ý

On Satmasjid Road, there was a time when only one shish kebab house dominated ýthe street. Then there were two. Now, I reckon, there are at least six that I know of. Every ýevening, as you wait for your order, the embers glow and the smoke rises to the heavens ýand the aroma tickles your nostrils. And this proliferation of kebab ghars has occurred on ýonly one street. ý

In my peripatetic tours of Dhanmandi, I notice that the footchka and chatpati ýsellers are still serving their food to lovers by the lake like they used to twenty years ago. ýThe purveyors and producers of biriani, morog pilau and tehari are doing brisk business ýý business that Pizza Hut must envy. ý
O globalisation where is thy sting? ý

As for clothes, I notice no slackening in enthusiasm among women for the ýtraditional saree (sorry, Ms. Roy): the jamdanee sells for thousands; handloom sarees are ýmuch sought after. The shalwar kameez has held its own against the trouser and shirt. ýBrides look like sylphs on the stage in their lehangas. The skirt is yet to be spread wide. ý

As for entertainment, I notice a large number of housewives eagerly watching the ývery traditional soap operas aired by Rupert Murdoch's STAR-TV: Rupert Murdoch, an ýAustralian national, controls a third of newspaper circulation in Britain and many ýBritons resent being influenced by a foreigner. (After all, the Sun once boasted on its ýfront page that it had won the election for the Tories; so, just in case, Tony Blair made ýsure he met Rupert Murdoch before his first election, which he then went on to win. ýCoincidence?) On the Indian subcontinent, Mr. Murdoch has had to give in to local ýtastes. He couldn't, it seems, corporatise the Indian joint family out of existence: instead, ýhe has had to idealise it on TV, and serve it up as the locals like it. ý

As for fizzy drinks and ice-cream, news of the demise of the lassi and kulfi are ýgreatly exaggerated. At weddings, borhani is still de rigueur. ý

Yet there is a globalisation of a different sort an insidious, malign variety with ýwhich the likes of Arundhati Roy and Jose Bove have no (hamburger) beefý. Indeed, they ýwelcome this more sinister globalisation. ý

Firstly, the Anglicization of the world is a sinister form of globalization: it ýintroduces words like 'freedom' which other cultures do not understand. For language, ýmeaning and a way of life are inextricably connected. In Bengali, we have no word for ýý'freedom' - when we use a similar word, it means collective freedom, not individual ýfreedom. Similarly, in Persian, azadi connotes collective liberty - the language reflects ýthe values. The Battle of Plassey was, therefore, our first brush with globalization. ý

Something is lost in translation....ý

Anthropologists are supposed to be sensitive to the peculiarities of a society ýthey are supposed to highlight what is distinctive about it, and to understand it in is own ýterms, to practice what Max Weber called verstehen. No sooner do anthropologists ýgraduate and join an aid organization than they discard all fidelity to their discipline and ýbecome instruments of western imperialism. It is like a doctor who, in contravention of ýthe Hippocratic oath, uses his medical knowledge to torture human beings rather than ýheal them. I know of only one anthropologist the Harvard expert on South Asia, Stanley ýJ. Tambiah who had the professional integrity to announce: "A social and cultural ýanthropologist of my sort will necessarily advocate that a collectivity's cultural practices ýare historically rooted...."ý

ý1,400 years of Muslim culture today stands ready to be buried under an avalanche ýof western notions such as democracy. We are told that to be ruled by military men is ýbarbaric: the implication is that for 1,400 years our civilisation has been barbaric. TIME ýmagazine, in an article on violence and corruption in Bangladesh, recently observed: "As ýthe feeling of helplessness grows some businessmen, recalling that extortion was less ýprevalent during the years of military rule, are nostalgic for the days when the army ran ýthe country". To be nostalgic for one's civilization, language and history may appear ýinane, if not insane, to TIME magazine, but it constitutes human nature, alas! Everyone is ýnostalgic for the days of the army. Everyone, that is, except the minions of the west, the ýintellectuals and NGOs who profit handsomely in spreading the west's universal ýmessage. ý

We are naturally nostalgic for military rule because that has been our culture for ýý1,400 years. From the dawn of Muslim civilisation, we have been ruled by military men. ýHowever much TIME may disapprove of our nostalgia, the ineradicable fact remains. ýWorse than Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are the globalisers who spread western political ýideas here, bringing murder, rape and arson where once there was peace.ý
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http://iftekharsayeed.weebly.com

Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, "ŽBangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL "ŽTEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. "ŽHe is also a (more...)
 

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