I would say that one part of the answer to this question would be the growth of information technology. The ease with which information is shared across the world through the web, Skype, Twitter, and Facebook have helped to make the absorption of different cultures a distinct part of reality in the modern setting. Indian culture and Western culture have embraced a sort of cultural exchange with one another, whereby both have absorbed aspects of each.
Indian culture has seen the emergence of Western fashion and Western brands infiltrating so much of the culture. Western brands like Coca- Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, KFC, and McDonalds have become a part of the Indian fabric. They have become appropriated so much that these brands do not seem "Western," but rather something a part of the Indian fabric of society. The growth of music channels that follow the MTV mode of broadcasting, as well as Bollywood films paralleling Western films are increasingly evident. Even some of the issues that used to be seen as "taboo" such as sex, women's hygiene, and communication between couples are disappearing. Now, condoms can be purchased in full view, without the "stigma" that used to be there. Women's hygiene products are openly advertised, in comparison to the times when a woman had to sheepishly approach a shop owner for "pads" and was given them in a brown, non-descript bag. The nation's first lesbian couple married and sought protection from the police, which they received, when they received death threats from their family. This is a reflection of the West. When US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, it is a reflection of how both cultures have come to understand that women in the role of political leadership is a part of both nation's historical footprint on the world. These are conditions whereby Indian culture and been influenced by the West. The transfer of information, the global reach of job markets across both cultures, and the basic idea that cultural transfer and exchange is much easier in the globalized setting has helped to leave an indelible Western footprint on much of the urban setting of India.
However, there is another side to this story. I think that a great many of these social changes are only directed at the urban setting of India. Majority of the nation is in a rural context. In these areas, there seems to be little permeation of Western thoughts from abroad. Western culture does not stop the threats of "honor killings" of the lesbian couple. There are many areas in India where the concept of a woman continuing her education when reaching "marrying age" is simply unacceptable, as is a woman working. Certainly, Western culture is evident in the fact that nearly everyone, urban or rural, owns at least one, if not more, cell phones. Satellite dishes are everywhere, even hanging on homes made of thatch. The question will be how the influence of the West will be felt all over India, and for this, I think that an indigenous approach is needed. For villages and rural settings where there has been an intense reverence for their own traditions as long as time has passed, the adoption of Western ideas and approaches will have to come from within. Certainly, as globalization takes greater hold of Indian culture, the need to address how all of India can advance, and how to avoid a "digital divide" is going to be essential.
What Can We Learn from Western Culture?
June 4, 2013
by Ramandeep Kaur
We live in a closed society. Every now and then we find someone condemning western culture for being too open, flashy and modern in a way that is disturbing our society and the present day generation. Most of us believe that western culture is weakening our own value system and with time our culture will disappear.
But do you think it right to put blame on others for all your wrong actions? What is happening in our society is because of us, not because of any other person or society. Is wearing modern clothes, using mobile phones, eating fast food what westernization means to us? The fact is, we are in a dilemma. We do want to stay where we were and, at the same time, want to fly high up in the sky. But flying high when you are deeply rooted to the ground won’t let you fall in any case.
Moreover, every society whether western or eastern has both positive as well as negative sides. It depends upon the person: whether he or she wants to imbibe a positive or negative aspect of the same.
At present, a majority of us are blindly running after modernization and have started believing that western culture is doing only wrong. But this is not right, as western countries are developing at a much faster pace than us. Crime rate in some western countries is far less than what India has at present. Their cities come in the list of the most preferred destinations to live in the world because of low crime rate, and high standards of living. So, we must learn good things from everyone leaving aside the wrong.
What can we adopt from western culture?
Society and community value system
Deep-rooted family values are part of the Indian culture. Parents perform their duties to raise their kids, kids once grown up take care of the elders in the family and marriage is the most sacred union in Indian culture, and so on. But when it comes to society or community, we show an altogether different attitude. For any terrible situation, we think it is not our responsibility but that of someone else. However, the same responsibility towards community is well understood in the West. Western people show their concern for society and make sacrifices, if required.
Habit of Cleanliness
Most of us have the habit of throwing garbage here and there instead of putting it in its proper place. But, if you have been to any western country, then you might have observed a big difference in cleanliness. They keep their surroundings absolutely clean and do not throw even a single bit of paper on the road, in parks or at public places. Everything is well maintained.
In some western countries, different types of garbage like plastic, kitchen waste, etc are required to be put in separate garbage bags. These are then kept outside the home to be collected by respective garbage collectors. But in India, throwing garbage in empty plots is a common scene. So, we must learn a sense of cleanliness from them.
How many of you have seen someone or the other breaking traffic rules in India? I have seen this many a times. But westerners follow all the traffic rules very strictly, even if there is no traffic policeman around.
Transportation system in western countries is much better than in India. A friend of mine once went to England. She was travelling by bus. The bus stopped at its scheduled stop and there was a handicapped person waiting for the bus. This bus had that space occupied, so the driver of the bus deboarded. He contacted another bus driver driving the bus on the same route and confirmed the space for handicapped person and his wheelchair. The driver then waited for that bus. He left the place only after boarding the handicapped passenger in the right bus. Bus drivers can communicate with passengers whenever required and they speak very politely. Such types of incidents are absolutely hard to find in India.
Sense of accountability is great in western culture and we must learn this attribute from them. We must be answerable to what we do. However, in India, generally important people are less answerable than commoners.
Be professional like people in the West who do not allow their personal feelings, problems and dealings to interfere in their professional lives. Along with this we must be punctual and respect the other person’s time.
Therefore, going ahead by preserving our values and culture is not wrong. Also, we should change with time for good as everything in this world is changing. We must adopt good values of western culture to our value system for betterment, growth and development.