Sunday, 20 December 2015
With the advent of technology people have access to all know about every type of culture. In my country of residence, India, westernisation is always a very popular debate as to how, we're forgetting our culture, our values and imitating the west in every aspect of life. I don't completely disagree with this view, considering we do have a lot of circumstances where we've adopted a lot of practices of theirs, some of them without even knowing as to why.
However, my problem is never with the moderates, but those who go to the extreme levels of patriotism, blaming every single problem of country to westernisation, be it position of women in the society, crimes, alcoholism (well, it has existed from the time of Indus valley civilisation), unemployment, food habits, poor quality of graduates, or some even go to the extent of saying that if we stick to our own culture, we need not face all these problems.
So, I come to the question - what is culture? I'd take the exact definition from Oxford dictionary, like I've been doing in my previous posts, for this purpose:
'The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society'
As seen above, these are mere customs and ideas and social behaviour changes with time. During the current information age, it is senseless to expect somebody to adopt a practice without being asked as to 'why?' and the mere reason that it was followed by the forefathers no longer holds good with most people today, for instance, I have dismissed so many practices of the family simply because I found no logic in it or because the same is no longer relevant today, considering the technology changes and changes on account of zeitgeist. My approach towards culture and ethics have always been that I don't care about its place of origin, it is only a question of whether it is right or wrong or whether it is ideal or not and if the answers to these questions is yes, I incorporate it no matter what.
I've been often accused of being one of those highly westernised and someone who has forgotten the culture (even though those who accuse me of the same, a significant majority of them haven't done half the reading I've done to arrive at my conclusions); for the simple reasons being - the English language, attire, the books I read, food habits, my atheism, etc but then, for me individually, these are minor issues and I'd handle these minor issues in this post by keeping myself as the example.
English - I agree, I do speak English as my first language, think in English, read books only in English but then, that is how the circumstances are and I have no hesitation in admitting the same. India, being a country so diverse needs a language to connect them all and English is what is providing this connection. Personally, I've lived in almost five different places in the country each of them being culturally and linguistically different and the only language that connected us all was English which meant, learning English is not exactly an option. Moreover, embracing English is not just an Indian trend, more and more countries are embracing the language to ensure the objective of achieving the global village (be it Azerbaijan or Slovakia, neither being British colonies). And for everyone's general information, I can communicate very fluently in two other Indian languages, being Tamil and Hindi but I agree to the extent that in either of these languages, I can't do literary reading and to be very honest, I have never had the need to and people learn only on a need basis.
Attire - I agree with this point that there are people who blindly copy the west in this aspect with schools imposing ties which are totally unnecessary but then beyond a point, clothing is purely a personal choice, personally, I find myself most comfortable in a western casual attire than the Indian counterpart and not because I wish to copy the west; and that doesn't make me 'anti national' in anyway. It is ultimately a matter of personal choices and at present, it so happens that many have views similar to mine.
Food habits - Brits love Indian curry, Indians love European food, people love to try what is not ordinary to them and this is just a global phenomenon and I don't understand the hue and cry over it. The idea that western food is the reason for obesity is a reasoning I find to be very childish and just a means to pass the blame; all cuisines have healthy food and junk food (including the Indian cuisine, several Indian fast food); if any, what needs to change is people's habit as such and blaming westernisation for that is nothing but escapism.
Religion - Another popular accusation - people are looking towards the west and forgetting their religion; well, I'm accused of this too, because I quit religion, in fact, at a very young age, but at that age, I wasn't exposed to too much western idea either, it was just that I didn't get satisfying answers to questions raised out of my inherent scepticism and a lot of people are in a similar position as to mine and it is really unfair to blame it on westernisation. In fact, I actually don't see what is the harm in people quitting religion, after all it is personal choice, the ideology that you choose, nobody bats an eye about people becoming communists or leaving the ideology, I fail to understand why this is an issue.
Moreover, I very often find historic references or even pre historic references citing how liberal the Indian culture was and the current state of affairs is solely on account of western affairs. I shall not go into how things were in the historical context but then, I am someone who prefers to live in the real world and in this real world, if the state of affairs with regard to something is better in West, rather than comparing the situation to be better than what it is in Saudi Arabia or North Korea, it is better to embrace the policy or at least, demonstrate how it was better in ancient India and embrace the same but ultimately don't be averse to change citing cultural reasons. The current trend of blaming westernisation is a mere escape route for all the wrongs in the society by those who don't want to take any corrective action.
The point I am coming to is the point that all these choices that I've taken is a personal choice and none of them had anything to do with trying to imitate the west because I felt they were superior (a feeling which I shall never have). Culture is not proven theory like science that it can't change with time and it is better we embrace changes by taking the best across all irrespective of the origin. The person who I am today is a mixture of my Indian upbringing and an influence of several other cultures across the world based on whatever I've read, and from the people whom I have met and I shall continue to update myself about cultures across the world for I am a citizen of the world, and that shall be my primary identity. Let us stop finding petty excuses for our problems, look at more serious issues and develop ourselves and the society for a better tomorrow.
Have a nice day,
PS: Don't target me for my 'western' diminutive