I'd like to begin with an anecdote. At a semiofficial gathering at the resi-
dence of the Indian ambassador to the United States in 1996 celebrating
the tentative ties recently developed between India and the United States,
the ambassador showed his appreciation for the large Indian expatriate
population by constantly referring to their obvious (to him) allegiance to
the "homeland."l He assumed that most of the Indian audience had been
born in India, had close, personal ties to the country, and frequently re-
turned there for a visit. He encouraged them to invest in the future of In-
dia by participating in the various U.S.-Indian corporate collaborations
in the making. India's entry into the twenty-first century as a major
player in global capitalism was assured with this crucial transnational al-
liance evolving around corporate culture. And then there was a signifi-
cant pause. Any nervousness we (Indians) might feel at the dilution of
"our" culture as a result of these mergers and incursions was false, he
To prove his point he asked the Indian women in the audience to stand
up. Look, he said-and the men and white women in the room turned
and duly observed-at what they are wearing. These "daughters of In-
dia" are all dressed in saris or
sa/war kameezes.
Not one is wearing a
Western dress. Indian men, however, with a few exceptions in Nehru
jackets, had, I presumed, been co-opted because they wore Western
suits.2 Two lessons can be gleaned from the ambassador's use of this vi-
sual aid. Generally, tradition is a hard thing to let go of, and more signifi-
cant, even if men had to adapt because they were part of the ephemeral
public life, women could always be counted on to affirm the continuity of
tradition. Thus, if Indian women continue to wear Indian clothes while
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