Westernization is a way of living that today has hardly left any corner of the world untouched. How then can it not influence India?
Most people in our country believe that western culture has massively influenced the minds of a majority of Indians. Further, some community, religious and right-wing groups strongly condemn westernization. Nevertheless, every single person, including you and me, practice westernization knowingly and unknowingly.
Westernization has become a way of life. Every single day we wake up to using international brands that include Colgate, Nescafe, L’oreal, Google, Apple, Amazon, Nike, Samsung, Honda, Coca-Cola, Netflix, and so on. Not just the usage of brands, but our lifestyle, thinking, habits, diets, and everything else has undergone striking changes, all thanks to the influence of western culture.
One of the most evident examples of westernisation is the coming up of waffles store at literally every corner of the street in the Indian cities. Ditching gulaab jamun or motichoor ke ladoo for a waffle or churros isn’t cool. We have also replaced parathas with pizzas and vada pav with burgers.
We have also made changes in our dressing styles. Where women once used to flaunt their salwar kameez and men their dhoti kurta, now the same have become ‘outdated’ and ‘old fashioned’. No, they haven’t. The fact is that denim pants and t-shirts have outdone them.
However, this easy transfer of culture from western borders to the small towns and city hubs of India is rather recent.
Varied reasons are believed to have caused westernization to take place in India. One of the major reasons is the economic policy of Liberalisation, Privatisation, and Globalisation brought in by our then finance minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh. This policy opened India’s gates to the world and allowed global products and services to flow in. Only some saw this decision in the negative light, while the majority were happy at the prospect.
Another reason behind westernization entering India was the travelling of people to foreign countries. When people started moving abroad, they came in direct contact with the western world. On returning, these people brought in the newly learned and adapted lifestyle of the west and ended up influencing the people they were surrounded by.
Moreover, with the advent of the media, internet and social media, a widespread exchange of culture took place between nations.
Even though people have adopted the western way of living, they, at times, hammer at the western social standings and status on issues like women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the name of culture and believe them to be overly progressive. Sometimes the orthodox, unopened communities of the country believe the inclusion of such culture to be highly harmful and see it as an invasion into the privacy of their withheld communal beliefs.
Major debates take place around the acceptance of the influence of such cultures and their impact on millennials, as it questions their earlier morals and religious belief systems. Films, books, and media outlets are criticized by such communities for portraying visuals that are deemed harmful to the community, like breaking the normalized idea of female ‘chastity’ before marriage and more. When we try to channelize this debate, we realise that the reason for this is the lack of openness and communication.
Overlooking the ideals of influence as an umbrella can be harmful, when not guided. Teenagers, especially, are more susceptible to any kind of influence and must be exposed to content that is correctly filtered.
The Indian families follow protocol and accept a child to be ideal if he/she studies and sticks to just that. Indian parents are also against allowing their child to go out clubbing and partying till late night, given that a majority of times clubbing is associated with activities that are morally as well as legally unacceptable. Having a lit nightlife is one of the undeniable parts of westernization.
The youth today flock to pubs and bars the moment weekend arrives. This is something the parents have been complaining about. The concern they raise is that due to this new culture, the youth have started compromising on family life, a value which has been very dear to the Indian culture.
Most of the time, parents reject young individuals to be subjected to any content that is otherwise essential to the child’s moral development. However, when a child grows, the learning processes evolve. In the process, a significant change in the socio-political environment allows the alteration of thought and identity.
The after-effect of this takes two positions: a better conversation about who they are, in order to familiarise their families to their new-formed identity or carry a dualism in their personality. The latter seems to be concurrent and breaks through the happy family scenario. The former continues to be rejected due to several reasons that can range from fear to anxiety. This brings about a gap that eventually forces the parents/ families to blame an external force. One could only overcome this distance through communication; an option that is truly neglected.
Dislike towards western culture also exists in India due to the educational and progressional gap between the first and the third world nations. While education allows the process of unlearning and optimal, self-reflexive activities, people that remain outdoors from schools, tend to follow or blame whatever ideology a political or a strong figure throws at them. Such figures take advantage of the easy-to-influence community and allow the creation of unreasonable hate for the outer world, in order to show their cultural superiority. People at times, also derive texts from mythological references, only for their benefit and to prove themselves right.
In such an attempt, they fail to recognize that ancient texts like Mahabharta, Ramacharitmanas, Kamasutra and their ancient existence actually support and question many problems and their solutions. While people attempt to scan through history, some have found the legislation to be based on colonizers’ legal works at the time of independence. However, now the world has moved and changes have been applied to their work. Further, when bid to be applied here, they are declined and looked upon as a side effect of the ‘Western Influence.” It seems to be a debate to follow and the nation should strive to develop an understanding of the notion in order to successfully decolonize the nation.
To summarise, the evolution of the Indian community lies in more than just the educated, city living communities and goes deeper into the lives of those it does not directly affect. However, the work seems to be in progress. Undoubtedly, the western culture is here to stay and we have also welcomed it to a large extent. However, we must also keep in mind that India is a home ground of varied cultures and is recognized around the world for the same. Thus, being Indians, we are the flag bearers of our culture. There is no harm in accepting westernisation but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of our Indian culture.
Our moral values lie and depend on each subjective, familial and communal condition. The gap can be easily conquered through better communication of these ideas with an open and free mind that allows the immigration of different people and their ideologies. Moreover, to gain the status of a mentally decolonized nation, these debates need to be straightened out and spread through the people of the country, to strive towards a better tomorrow.