Modernization, Westernization???

Been a long time since my last post.. And this has been the standard first line for most of my previous posts during the past year. lol.. Guess it cannot be helped. I was thinking of putting up this post yesterday, but work and tiredness overcame my determination. At around one in the morning yesterday, a friend and I were talking about the influence of globalization on India. Then came up an interesting anecdote from Dr. Kamal Haasan, regarding culture. This was related to the controversy surrounding the naming of his film, Virumaandi. Anyway, the part of his speech that I would like to highlight is: “Culture is something that people change whenever they want. A hundred years ago, Sati(burning widows along with their husbands) was part of our culture. But it is not now.” I agreed with his version of culture for a few hours before I started thinking on my own lines. My line of reasoning regarding culture is: “Culture represents the level of understanding by each society of its environment, and symbolises the manners and customs that the members of the society feel that they should follow in order to maximize their collective chances of survival and propagation.” I do not know whether anyone else has thought on the same lines. But personally, I feel that this is the appropriate meaning of culture in all possible contexts.

I admit that Indian culture does have its flaws. Initially, women do not seem to have been given much freedom. But the crucial fact that I would like to point out is, women were not given freedom in other cultures as well. This is something that most of us miss. My friend told me another piece of information as well. In the 1950s, there were only three countries in the world that gave voting rights to women, and India was one of them. Most of the readers of my blog are people well-known to me, and are in and around my age group. So, please take this as a personal request – DO NOT JUST FIND FAULTS WITH OUR CULTURE, TAKE STEPS TO CORRECT THEM AS WELL. NOTHING IN THIS WORLD IS PERFECT, AND WE ARE STILL ON THAT LONG ROAD TO PERFECTION.

Then came the discussion about free sex and the like. It seems that a lot of youngsters today are receptive towards the idea and find no fault in following it. I was quite sceptic about it from the minute I heard the term, and decided to do some research. I found that Western countries were very much like us in the beginning, and gradually adopted these ideas. I also discovered that the family structure in these countries was quite broken down, and the level of commitment between spouses was very low. There are so many divorces, break-ups and remarriages that children are affected a lot. It is not surprising that the rates of depression, suicides and drugs are quite high in these countries. This is what the idea of free sex, and the lack of commitment towards a proper marriage give rise to. I know that our elders tell us that a lot of things that we see in English movies and television are wrong, because those things do NOT adhere to our culture. This is where most of our elders are at fault because they do not give us a proper reason to stick to our culture. Maybe, they feel that they need not give us a proper explanation, or they do not know it themselves. Gradually, we youngsters start rebelling against our culture because the generation of today does not like to limit itself without a proper reason. Well, let me tell you why I feel that many aspects of our culture are far superior to the ones found in other cultures.

Indian culture, as a whole, rests on the foundation of strong family ties and religion. Since religion is a controversial topic which may give rise to too many unnecessary arguments, discussions and disagreements, I will drop it, and take up the former. Strong family ties can come only if we marry with the consent of our relatives and parents, or if you and your spouse decide to stick together for the rest of your lives. With free sex and frequent switching of spouses, you prove yourself to be a person who does not know how to manage a relationship, or to be an unstable hand. We, Indians, care for our children a lot, and support them for as long as possible, unlike Western countries, where, in most families a child is on his own after teenage, and most elder people there spend their last days in old age homes. I believe these two facts alone are sufficient to indicate the closeness that the members of a family have between them. Would you keep your mom and dad with you when they are old, care for them like they cared for you when you were young and be by their side when they pass away, or send them away to an old age home and just turn up for their funeral? This is where we differ. This is where the ethics and things that our elders teach us in our younger days come into play. The problem is that no one explains things properly so that we understand what we are doing, instead of blindly following a few teachings. The practices that Western countries follow will only lead to decline in family ties, lack of commitment, depression and higher suicide rates.

I am not against love and divorce. Each person must be given the right to choose his or her spouse. And it is natural that things do not work out sometimes. What I am against is blindly falling in love, just because having a girlfriend or boyfriend is the in-thing. The relationship falls apart in a short period of time, and the couple break up. After that, the boy and the girl start looking for other partners with the same mindset, and the vicious cycle continues. There are other cases where one dumps the other for some reason or the other. Please give your partner a chance – well, many chances. After all, you may have been forgiven a lot of times by people around you for the faults that you have made. Do not give up so easily on the one who loves you. Choose your partner wisely, and make sure you stick with that partner till your last breath. This way, your children will grow up in a secure environment, and they can focus on coming up in life instead of wondering what their mother and father are going to fight about that evening. I think that those who may have been confused by my perspective on culture can see things in a better light now. Our culture paves the way for the betterment of the individual in subtle ways that are not so evident. Be yourself. Do not lose your identity.

A society does not stand on its own. Each person contributes some part, and in the well-being of the whole lies the well-being of the individual, and vice-versa. It is a cycle, and you have to start at some point to get the whole thing going. If people cheat you just because you are good and forgiving, do not change yourself just because you have met a few bad eggs. I have this habit of going out of my way to help others. One of my close friends reprimands me a lot for this, and I can still hear her scoldings as I am typing. She used to tell me again and again that charity begins at home. I agree with her. But if all of us place our own needs above the needs of others ALL THE TIME, we would soon rot away into nothingness. There are times when we must sacrifice our desires and well-being for the sake of others. (Well, Ms. A, if you are reading this post now, I know that you will scold me for giving supposedly bad advice to others as well.. :P.. podinga.. :P) Most of you are aware of the saying: “It does not matter how long you have lived, but how well you have lived.” I would like to rephrase it and state in my own words: “It does not matter how happy you are when you are alive, but how happy you are when you die.” I believe that this captures the essence of Indian culture, where we are taught to complete our duties to our parents, children, spouse and the society before we die. I have been to a few mournings in Chennai, and the most striking aspect that stood out was the lack of people there. Even the neighbours did not seem to spend much time with the affected family. Everyone just paid a visit and moved on instead of staying back and lending a helping hand. This was in stark contrast to the other parts of Tamil Nadu where your neighbours play the pivotal role in organizing all parts of the funeral and the ceremonies that follow it. Frankly, how many of you know all your neighbours well? This is what Western culture is all about – keeping to yourself and not giving a damn about others. We are at the cross-roads now, and we youngsters are going to determine the path that our country is going to take in the coming years. Take your decision wisely, for the future of our country rests in our hands.

Even if one of you change your attitude on reading this post, that is enough for me. I will feel happy that all these words have not been in vain.

[P.S. This is to all the assholes who keep bugging me for link exchanges. I do not put links to other people’s blogs except for the ones that I know personally, and I am not going to check out your posts on the miracle drug that elongates your manhood by 6 inches for only $1. So stop pestering me, and go fuck yourself.)