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gulfdailynews_19feb2009.pdf

Gulf Daily News

February 19, 2009

Eurocentrism adding fuel to the fire

I HAVE been keeping in touch with developments in Bahrain through the GDN even after I moved to the US

several years ago.

As noted by many readers, there is a disturbing trend of intolerance among certain MPs in Bahrain. To add

fuel to the fire, this trend also seems to invoke another trend of Eurocentrism and Western supremacy

among many readers.

Basically, what some of these readers (who I suspect are Western) are saying to Bahrainis is: "Give up the

Western way of life and let's see how you can survive with the simple, backward, pre-mediaeval, Islamic

life." The term "Western lifestyle" is wrongly used, particularly by people from the Western hemisphere, for

any lifestyle that is progressive and modern. I would like to point out three valid reasons for this:

 The precursor of the industrial revolution and scientific revolution is Indian mathematics, starting all the way from Brahmic (sometimes called Arabic) numerals to advanced concepts such as trigonome-

try. But you don't hear us Indians say "The West is Indianised". Golden age of Indian civilisation

was succeeded by Golden age of Islam that made many significant contributions to mathematics (al-

gebra), science (ibn sinna) and many other fields.

 A lot of advanced modern technology doesn't just come from Western nations. Japan's proprietary consumer technology is ahead of many Western countries. South Korea is catching up and leading

many Western nations with hi-tech brands like Samsung, LG, etc.

 A good portion of Western technology was developed by immigrants from non-Western nations. I know this because I live in the US. Companies like Bose, Sandisk, Sun Microsystems, Hotmail were

founded or co-founded by Indians. Vinod Dham, the father of the Pentium processor, is also a pio-

neer of the flash memory technology. Arun Netravali, former CEO of Bell Labs, is responsible for

significant contribution to digital video, including HDTV. A lot of the reasons why the West has

military and industrial strength over many nations are owed to years of power-hungry colonisation.

I am not undermining the achievements of the West. We owe a lot to the brilliant minds of Europe and

America for their inventions: efficient transportation (aeroplane, automobile, railway), electricity, phone,

vaccinations, etc. But we still need to keep things in perspective. Almost every civilisation has contributed

very useful things to mankind.

So next time, address the issues of religious or national intolerance using rational terms and not irrational,

Eurocentric words like Western.

Samuel Thomas

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