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Globalisation and cultural exchange: The formation of ‘coconut class’

Its argued by the western scholars that cultural exchange results in mutual understanding, respect and create room for tolerance and acceptance among different groups or societies; however, this is a surface level argument and a pretext to justify imperialism and neo-colonialism. The British East India company came up with the same approach to reform “the barbarians” and “savages” of subcontinent and to make them “civilised” through their cultural indoctrination in the pretext of “cultural exchange.” They further justified it as a “white man’s burden” to transform the brown skinned-uncivilised to civilised “coconut class,” which is brown from outside but white from within. “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), by Rudyard Kipling, is a poem about the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) that exhorts the United States to assume colonial control of the Filipino people and their country, American imperialists understood the phrase “the white man’s burden” to justify imperial conquest as a “civilising mission” that is ideologically related to the continental expansion philosophy of manifest destiny of the early 19th century. This “civilising mission” was not halted after decolonisation but it is ongoing in the pretext of “cultural exchange” and “globalisation.” For example, Manfred Steger, professor of global studies and research leader in the Global Cities Institute at RMIT University, in his book Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, identifies four main empirical dimensions of globalization: economic, political, cultural, and ecological. A fifth dimension, the ideological, cutting across the other four. The ideological, according to Steger, is filled with range of “norms, claims, beliefs, and narratives.” So, the idea of “civilising” the people of global south is still present in western political thought. Now the people who become “civilised,” the “coconut class,” try to influence cultural perspectives, values, and societal norms of their original societies by taking the cover of having common language, colour or ethnicity. This class has a dual identity, its colour is brown but its heart, mind and consciousness is white and Eurocentric. They have an inherent feeling, after becoming “civilised,” that they are mentally, psychologically and philosophically have superior qualities and tendencies than the original brown-“uncivilised” masses that is why they claim themselves to be “modernist” or “progressive.” The same mentality and approach that the British East India Company had, like them, they are also on a “civilising mission” to transform the “savages,” “barbarians,” and “backward” class of subcontinent. Though the whites called it the “white man’s burden,” but for these people, its the “coconut’s burden.” Now, the billion dollar question–how to identify this coconut class? It’s pretty simple, when you see someone making a case that Pakistan should be a secular state, or when someone justifies homosexuality, fornication, or find excuses for vulgarity or obscenity as right of “expression” or be hedonistic like, “all is fine as long as someone does not hurt anyone,” or “everyone has the right to do whatever they want, as long as they do not hurt anyone” are some examples how one can identify this “coconut class.” Members of this class are the people who mostly belong to or support Aurat Marches, demand rights for the Qadiyaanis or argue that Quran and Sunnah should be reinterpreted (according to their worldview, of course). Moreover, ideas such as cultural exchange, diversity and secular democracy are championed, and preached and practiced like a religion of 21st century by this “coconut class,” alongside the western world. They spearhead the agenda of western powers in the global south nations by engaging public through media, social media or by the entertainment industry through funding and aid they get from the US or EU. According to the last year The News report, in December 2022, US reserved $200m, while in 2020, it cleared $25m for promoting “gender equality” and “strengthening democracy” in Pakistan. Similarly, in 2000, Pakistan received $25 million for the same purpose. The western world, alongside the “coconut class,” preach diversity while also believing in indoctrination of other cultures? How will the world be more diverse and vibrant if all have a monoculture having same values, traditions, norms, belief and worldview?
Coming towards implications, there are cons of cultural exchange and secular democracies more than its pros. It makes an original culture of a society go extinct and vanish, it erases its unique characteristics, identity, language, customs, norms, principles and practices of a original inhabitants of a society in the pretext of either “cultural exchange,” or “democratic values”. The glory of a nation rest solely with preserving its identity, norms, practices and traditions not by adopting other cultures in the name of preaching “tolerance,” or having a “shared identity.” Take an example of Chinese and how they are glued to their unique identity in the era of globalisation and Americanisation. Same is the case with our neighbours India and Iran; however, preserving culture doesn’t means to act like North Korea and live in an isolation, but to live as global citizens having a distinct identity, values, religion, language, traditions and a worldview. As God says in the Quran, “We created you all from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may ‘identify one another.’ Verily the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing of you.” Abul Ala Maududi explains this as, “The Creator had divided the human communities into nations and tribes for that was a natural way of cooperation and distinction between them”