Sailaja N. Joshi


In Consumer 2.0, Homo-Indus, India, Presentation of Self, Social Change, United States on April 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm

“So, is there going to be like a elephant there?” asked one of my husband’s friends in reference to our upcoming wedding.

“No, we don’t do that, it’s not our tradition. Punjabi people do that.” responded my husband.

“Oh,” said my husband’s friend perplexed. “Well, what’s the difference?”

Just a few thousand miles, a language and several customs.

People today tend to think of Indians as one large group of people who hail from India and whose traditions are homogeneous. India is in fact quiet the opposite. People from the Northern India rarely have the same customs or language as those from the South and vice-a-versa. There are no pure “Indian” traditions or even an “Indian” language. India is made up of a variety of people who speak a variety of language and have a variety of customs. (India is cool like that.)

Till now.

Perhaps its economic success or the media, but the variety of Indian customs is slowly merging both here in the United States and in India.

Case in point? My wedding. My family and my husband’s had similar customs when it came to the wedding rites, but after that we had nothing.

“Well, what about the Mendhi Laag and the Baarat?” I asked my Mom.

“Those aren’t our customs,” replied my mom.

Imagine that! The things that I thought were ‘quintessential’ to an Indian wedding (Thanks Bolloywood!) were in fact, “Not our customs.” It was in this conversation that I came to see the key difference between my generation and my parents. My parents see themselves as Telugu and are defined by the region they hail from in India, while I see myself as simply Indian.

I believe that my generations’ feelings of being simply Indian has resulted in homogenization of Indian culture. The language we speak at home or the state from which our parents came from no longer defines us. Our traditions and cultures have become mixed and intertwined. This has resulted in (drum roll please)…

Homo-Indus. A generation of Asian-Indian American who are a venerable hodgepodge of Indian culture, happy to mix and assimilate our ‘cultural’ values into one big hot-pot of Indianness.

This surge in Homo-Indus has opened up the need for products that are Indian, helping to  make way for Homo-Indus-centric companies such as, Gyanna and Alankar Decors. Companies like these start small, but I think will make huge headway in this economy because they see the need for their services among a growing, affluent community.

Companies should take note this Homo-Indus trend. Catering to the Indian population with goods that speak to their ‘Indianness’ is crucial to gaining the trust and acceptance of this population. This cannot be achieved by simply hiring an Indian actress to promote a cosmetic line. A company must know Homo-Indus and understand their needs starting from their roots.

And what better person to give your company that knowledge than a fellow Homo-Indus?

  1. Very interesting, seriously!

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