India: A Cultural Melting Pot?

degreeCulture is always dynamic. It absorbs new elements into itself and keeps evolving. The cultures which don’t do this, die. However, there is a downside. Often the society starts to mimic foreign cultures and in doing so, loses its essence. What results is a faulty imitation of an alien culture. This week’s article looks at how Indian culture has been influenced by the West. There are several advantages yes, like the undoing of the Sati custom, and women’s suffrage movements. There are downsides too, which undermine Indian culture as inferior, and imitate Western cultures.   Monjit Roy, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce  

India has a rich cultural heritage and is one of the most popular cultures in the world. People belonging to different religions, races, ethnic and linguistic groups exist together. Guests are considered God here and people welcome them with joined hands and a smile on their face.  

With the change in time,Indian culture has evolved. The impact of westernization has great influence on our traditional Indian society.The impact of Western cultureis clearly visible in all forms in our society today like in our food habits, the way we dress etc.Change is inevitable and it is natural that the society adapts to new things. However, in the process of all this, we must not disregard our own culture and tradition. Sometimes we tend to imitate the foreign culture at the cost of our own culture. Our Indian culture has impressed the world for thousands of years and its richness is widely known.Even students from different parts of India and abroad come to gain knowledge and education in the famous universities of ancient India like Taxila and Nalanda.

Great scholars and teachers like Chanakya,Aryabhatta,Baskaracharya,Varahmihir,Dadhichi gave light to the history of India.Our Indian culture is rooted in the idea of moral values, honesty, discipline and respect. And these ideas can be seen in the famous epic like Ramayana where there are instances on the importance of relationship, high moral values etc.  

When we look at our present society, are we still following the same values and practices which our ancestors practiced? Instead, what we see today is quite the opposite. There isa lack of moral values, discipline and honesty; which of course is the reason for one of the social evils we find in our society, that is, corruption. Moving towards modernization is essential and adapting to western cultures has become a part of our society. And this is bound to happen more rapidly with the change in time. Every culture has its share of good and bad and, we need to be rational enough to differentiate the good from the bad. Inculcating western culture in our Indian culture is not a bad thing provided we do not forget our roots and blindly follow the western culture.Because when we do that it could have a negative impact on our own culture. It is not surprising to see that today, with all the technological developments it is very easy to follow the western cultures; and many people mostly youths have more liking towards the western cultures than their own culture. This is quite scary because if they continue to do so without looking back at their own culture and tradition, the roots will be soon wiped out. Sometimes, peer pressure could also be one reason that the young people tend to move more towards the western culture.  

I do not mean to imply that the western culture is bad and we should ignore it, but giving more preference or blindly following someone else’s culture and neglecting our own may drown our culture to a great extent. Both the Indian culture and the Western culture are different in their own ways, and there is a lot to learn from both these cultures. In fact, we have learned and adopted many good qualities from the western culture and we will continue to do so. Likewise our Indian culture is also influencing the culture ofthe west, especially in food habits or in the field of meditation and good health like Yoga and Ayurveda.  

Cultureis dynamic and we cannot ignore or stop the western cultures from influencing our own. However, let us not just blindly imitate the culture of the west but try to understand and inculcate the good things the western culture has to offer. Yes, our Indian culture is not the purest of all and there are some qualities that will diminish with time as cultures and societies keep evolving. However, one’s roots and origins should not be forgotten. Let usencourage one another, especially the younger generation to uphold and appreciate our culture and to be a proud Indian.  

“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email: [email protected]”.