Claim: Governments must ensure that their major cities receive the financial support they need in order to thrive. Reason: It is primarily in cities that a nation’s cultural traditions are preserved and generated.

Posted: February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Historically, certain cities rose to prominence over others of the same nation primarily for three reasons – 1) geographical size, 2) abundance of natural resources or proximity to trading routes and 3) because of their historical and cultural legacy. Thus there is some veracity in the author’s claim that cultural traditions are preserved in cities. However, it is equally true that some cities are predominantly economic and financial centers, and not the ideal lens with which to view the wont of a nation. While in the latter case it might appear that the author’s argument is weakened, it is my view that even these cities have a critical role to play in preservation of the ethos. At the same time the government cannot be absolved of its responsibility simply by concentrating on the major cities

It is true that the culture in major cities around the world has become variegated and can best be called cosmopolitan. However, the pride that the denizens of a nation have in their culture vouchsafes its continuity. World cities like Paris, New Delhi, Beijing are all examples of cities which despite external influence have a distinct cultural heritage which they are known for. These cities have always had a rich history which perhaps was the main reason of them rising to prominence. The influx of people from all parts of the country to these major cities also adds to the cultural Diaspora resulting in a kaleidoscopic effect for anyone wishing to get into the nuances. Maintaining these rich cultural databases requires money, and while there could be other sources as patrons, receipts from tourism – the primary source of funding would be the government.

While the mores and traditions are less diluted in smaller cities, they themselves are unable to attract patrons and the artisans are often seeing langushing. It is the marketing prowess, infrastructural development and facilities of the larger cities that help establish the country on a world stage. From the government’s point of view these are also sound financial investments to make as the returns are reflected in increased tourism and thriving local economy, adding to the nations GDP and HDI. This exponential income which is generated can then be redirected to smaller cities where the means of subsistence are fewer. Little wonder that culture has become one of the most potent marketing tools utilized by nations these days.

On the other hand, most major cities are already self reliant in terms of the resources at their disposal. They have a prolific economy and do not require government assistance except for some overlooked sectors. However the smaller cities relying primarily on local produce and consumption require funding for various activities. The threat of inadequate funds on cultural degradation is twofold – 1) in absence of a sustainable means of livelihood, artists move to more lucrative career options and 2) with the youth migrating to bigger cities for livelihood options, transfer of cultural heritage from one generation to another would be contained. It is also often seen that government funding are deployed into extravagant marketing activities in large cities, however a proportionate benefit to culture is not witnessed. E.g. Common wealth games – money allocated for extravagant opening and closing ceremonies as a gateway into India’s rich culture but little to no benefit was witnessed.

In summary, major cities if not natural cultural hubs, often act as the marketplace for culture and tradition and hence cannot be undermined and overlooked by the government. However in many cases the source of the country’s ethos is actually the rural cities and it would be essential to nurture the source for the stream to be long and mellifluous.

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Comments
  1. Mingwei Hu says:

    Hi,

    I’m just wondering what score you expect to get for this essay. I have written this essay before but using a completely different tone. I think there is a hidden assumption in the speaker’s statement. It assumes that a city’s contribution to the nation’s culture determines its importance of thriving over other cities. Do you think it’s a good point to build our position against this assumption?

    • gre5dot5 says:

      Hi Mingwei, thanks for your comment. I am of a similar opinion as you and do believe there is an inherent unstated assumption in the author’s statement. It is perfectly ok to take any stand in the analytical writing piece, the only thing that matters is how lucidly you can support your stand with arguments and examples. There are several points that can be delved upon against the author’s assertion and some of them I touch upon briefly in the essay. One way of doing it can be to focus on discrediting the reason as stated in the essay i.e. ‘it is primarily in cities that a nation’s cultural traditions are persevered’. If you can negate this using a couple of points, then by simple reasoning the claim itself loses credence.
      I hope I have been able to help. If you want to discuss specific points, I’d be glad to.

      • Mingwei Hu says:

        Hi, thanks for your email! Do you mind looking at my essay and give me any feedback you like? I’m an international student and I ‘m kind of struggling with analytical writing. Appreciate it if you can help !

        The statement argues that the government should fully support their major cities due to their “cultural traditions”. Surely every major city in a country plays a crucial role in representing the country’s economy and politics. Whether these major cities can successfully thrive to be prosperous always reflects the government’s ability. Therefore, it is necessary for governments to subside their major cities as much as they can. However, the reason on which the claim is based does not always hold true. There is not a direct link between a city’s cultural tradition and the necessity of receiving financial support. On a closer inspection, major cities are not necessarily the places where the country’s culture was generated.

        In making the statement that major cities must receive financial support they need, the prompt assumes that the city’s culture primarily determines the extent to which it can thrive. However, while it is important for major cities to thrive, the government need not provide financial aids based on cultural tradition. In fact, a city’s economic status, rather than its culture, determines how much it needs financial aid. A fast economic growth attracts foreign technology and engineering industries, which requires an increasing amount of government investment. A city’s large-scale industries such as power-plants, electronic factories, and steel industries maintain the city’s economic growth. Without governmental financial aid, these industries would experience hardship in operating themselves, which then would exacerbate the city’s ability to thrive. Furthermore, regardless of how rich the city’s culture is, it needs government’s financial support as long as it experiences economic crisis. The 2008 world-wide financial crisis urged governments around the globe to subside their local business in order to survive the crisis. A city which has just experienced a devastating earthquake or other natural disasters also needs governmental subsidization imperatively in order to recover its economy.

        Secondly, government does not play a main role in financially supporting a city in terms of its culture. Its priorities lie in supporting economy, education, and medical, since these aspects represent the city’s image and how prosperous it is. Even if a city has a goal to keep its culture thriving, the investment is often made by private institutions, not government. Many countries around the globe which share a rich culture tradition have distributed the duty of preserving their culture to private business. In China, many local culture resorts are now run by private business. Songzhuang, an old town in Beijing that serves as a culture resort, does not receive government subsidization. It is run by local farmers who open museums and restaurants. Moreover, a government may not fully understand a city’s culture; the government’s view can be different from that of the local populace. At this point, the duty of financially supporting the culture should be transferred to local business, and government should not intervene the city’s culture development as a way to help it culturally thrive.

        Finally, the speaker may have falsely assumed that major cities to be the birthplace of a nation’s culture. Admittedly, some cities become preeminent over others due to being the culture-breeding-cities. However, and in fact, most cities become large and major cities in the nation due to their economy rather than culture. Shengzhen, a coastal city in China, does not breed Chinese culture, but it serves as an economic center due to its geographical advantages and the high ability to attract foreign business. Another example would reveal that the culture foundation does not guarantee a city’s status in the nation. Kaifeng is a historical city in China which owns a prestigious culture resource, but in fact it is among one of the poorest cities in central China. Therefore, it is unwise for the government to simply assume that major cities are the birthplace of the nation’s culture.

        In conclusion, government should not base on a city’s culture foundation to financially subside it. A city’s true financial need is not necessarily reflected by its culture, and its economy should be the government’s real concern. Even if the government decides to subside a city’s culture, it should figure out whether the city is a real culture-breeding-place, rather than simply assuming it has generated the culture due to the fact that it is the major city.

      • gre5dot5 says:

        Hi Mingwei,

        I appreciate that you are asking for my feedback. While I am no expert, I will honestly share my opinion hoping that it helps you further improve upon your analytical writing skills. If you find any of my comments harsh, please know that my intent is not to demotivate you, but only that you are cognizant of certain things you could do to bump up your score. I am an international student too and therefore wanted to tell you that do not think of it as a disadvantage. Analytical writing is not about big words or complicated sentences – it does not test our writing skills. The evaluators however will look out for grammatical mistakes and most importantly your reasoning ability.

        Overall I felt your essay had some really good points (paras 3 and 4), but in a few places I was getting lost in the circuitous reasoning. I am specifically concerned about your introductory para as I did not comprehend most of it except the last two lines (which I think are important and hence should be highlighted). In my personal opinion, I think you should not expand the scope of the argument from culture to economics and politics. The case the author is making is that since major cities are cultural hubs, they should be supported by the government – I believe there are 2 assumptions here 1) from the government’s point of view, it is important to preserve culture 2) a culturally rich city might not be self-sustaining and hence might require government support. I think there is enough meat in these two points either to support or oppose the argument and therefore do not recommend venturing into areas of politics and economics (para 2). That said, you can use points from para 2 to discredit assumption number 2, which you do towards the end of the para (example, a major city can be both a cultural and economic hub and therefore could thrive independently).

        Grammatically – I did not think there are were too many concerns, except for a few places. (On a side not – I think you meant to say subsidize but have instead used subside). I would suggest you try and vary your sentences and the words you are using so that there are limited repetitions. Given your writing sample, I believe you can easily do this. A little more practice and I think you can definitely push up your score by atleast 1 point. When are you appearing for your GRE?

        Hope this helps and has provided you some constructive feedback to work with. Please feel free to let me know your view. If you want to write to me personally my email id is gar.aggarwal@gmail.com.

        Thanks and all the best!

  2. Mingwei Hu says:

    Hi thanks for your highlighting feedback ! I will take it at the end of the November this year. How about you? Are you also studying for GRE now ? I think we can exchange our essays like this one in the future so that we can write feedback to each other.

  3. MVK says:

    Holy ______! I feel belittled (am i using that right?) My essays are nowhere near these.

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