Devdutt Pattanaik’s TED : Intercultural sensitivity in the West-India business world

A beautiful illustration made for Pattanaik’s article "The Right to be a Philistine"
Taken from Devdutt Pattanaik’s site: devdutt.com

I enjoyed a lot Devdutt Pattanaik’s TED talk, and I’ve shown it in class as much as I’ve been able to. I found here a beautiful connexion of the world of cultures and myths to the ‘practical’ world of international companies. This talk was meant to be a window for executives and CEO’s interested in working with India, but I think it can be of great use for our purposes here. Not only it is a ‘practical’ view of how important it is to be aware of people’s experiences and universes; it is also an invitation to develop a sensitivity that can enable contact. Even if we don’t get all the facts.

Culture is a reaction to nature, and this understanding of our ancestors is transmitted generation from generation in the form of stories, symbols and rituals, which are always indifferent to rationality. And so, when you study it, you realize that different people of the world have a different understanding of the world. Different people see things differently –different viewpoints.

This is a nice way to talk about business and how it is possible to articulate connecting to others in the new global world. Specially when the West and India make contact to make money. I tend to be irritated by this point of view when explaining the importance of intercultural communication, mainly because it tends to dominate the goals of these studies. Nevertheless, as I pointed out at the beginning, if there’s a way to connect the beauty of human traditions and the groups that make money move, it should be this one:

That sensitivity is what we need. Once this belief enters, behavior will happen, business will happen. And it has. So, then we come back to Alexander and to the gymnosophist. And everybody asks me, “Which is the better way, this way or that way?” And it’s a very dangerous question, because it leads you to the path of fundamentalism and violence. So, I will not answer the question. What I will give you is an Indian answer, the Indian head-shake.

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