The following TED video made me wonder for how many other aspects of life this might be true.
In his 2009 talk, novelist and politician Shashi Tharoor (himself a fascinating character) looks at India's success and emerging popularity from a cultural point of view. He discusses the 'soft power' with which Indian culture, food, technology and music influences people's hearts and minds.
There's a lot of food for thought in this video. It made me wonder about the notion of world leadership, about the effect technological revolutions can have on people in different kinds and layers of society, and once again about the power of stories in our lives.
A few of my favourite passages:
'But, with this increasing awareness of India, with you and with I, and so on, with tales like Afghanistan, comes something vital in the information era, the sense that in today's world it's not the side of the bigger army that wins, it's the country that tells a better story that prevails.'
'Governments aren't very good at telling stories. But, people see a society for what it is, and that, it seems to me, is what ultimately will make a difference in today's information era'
'But, the whole point is that India is the nationalism of an idea. It's the idea of an ever-ever-land, emerging from an ancient civilization, united by a shared history, but sustained, above all, by pluralist democracy. That is a 21st-century story as well as an ancient one. And it's the nationalism of an idea that essentially says you can endure differences of caste, creed, color, culture, cuisine, custom and costume, consonant, for that matter,and still rally around a consensus. And the consensus is of a very simple principle, that in a diverse plural democracy like India you don't really have to agree on everything all the time, so long as you agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree.'
- Shashi Tharoor, TEDIndia, Nov 2009