Why oh why? I have been plagued with this question for quite sometime now and reading Fareed Zakaria's book "POST AMERICAN WORLD" (wonder if that will ever be a reality in my lifetime) has me obsessing over this trend which is on the rise.
What we call modern is sometimes just western. This has spilled over in both the public and private spheres. From the way we think, to how we dress, and what we drink or eat. I am no loony irrational rightist. I love some of the old western values. But today when the western world is being governed by a bunch of evil bankers, it(or the part we interact with politically and economically and culturally) has been reduced to a born again East India Company.
We are becoming the mirror images of each other. And that other is a culture being forced onto us from Wall Street and Corporate Boardrooms. Its not a mass pop culture. I prefer to call it mass hypnosis.
Gone are the days of Rooh-Awzah,Dabur drinks,panna,etc.Its always much easier and cooler to slug down a Pepsi or Coke. Coca-Cola is single-handedly depleting our groundwater resources. In Plachimada and Mehdiganj it tried selling its solid and extremely toxic waste to the farmers as fertilizers. But oh its so not cool to drink the local nimbu soda. Hum modern hain bhai!!
I dread the time, we will have Walmarts in all our cities. Reliance Fresh is anyways a kick in the stomach for the local sabzi wala..a once upon a time proud and independent small businessman. But so desperate to copy our NRI cousins, we would rather take a cart and shop in a climate controlled superstore, than be found carrying a 'jhola'(a bio degradable commodity our parents happily reused) and sweating it out in a sabzi market. Each one has their own justified reasons. Ignorance and lack of foresight being amongst them. We think its rustic and not done to drink tea from a 'kulhad'(an earthenware tumbler which again is bio-degradable and supports small artisans. We prefer to clog our drains and poison our earth with plastic cups/bottles because the Gora Man does it. DOwn with the 'suraahi'.
We are having to fight patenting of our very own basmati seeds and turmeric. Thank God for the fact that atleast some of us are fighting it. God Bless their souls. If the New Age East India Company would have its way, we would lose the right over indigenously grown herbs,crops etc. Do we know or rather do we care? We just go on singing the song of globalization without understanding its full implications and oblivious to the real hand who controls it.
Rice Tec’s claim on Basmati rice is said to be the most audacious instance of ‘bio piracy’ by Western transnational corporations (TNCs).The Indian government has successfully contested in the United States the grant of a patent on the commercial use of the traditional medicinal properties of turmeric.Another well-known example of bio piracy is the patent on the herbicidal properties of the ‘neem’ tree. Reference:http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/basmati.htm
But heck, how does it matter if we have KFC,MacDonalds,Pizza Huts, in exchange of all this. Right? All in the name of modern and global?
The Saree industry is hit hard due to recession as well for other reasons for sometime now. The cheap Chinese imitations being one of them. Indian women still love sarees though wear it on some special occasions only...understandably so. But when we would rather wear a gown/or what have you, than drape a saree around us even when the moment demands it,(weddings,pujas) its baffling(to me). I am not sashaying in a saree all the time. But this growing trend of (celebrities in both national and international events) donning gowns is something I do not understand. Are we trying to prove something here? Are we saying that we become equals only when we talk,eat,dress,think alike? Personally I think Indian women look better in a saree versus a gown.What say you? Today evening I saw a 6 year old boy cycling,wearing the Muslim skull cap. He was just back from the mosque and he looked beautiful. He was who he is without having to conform to an accepted and popular but false ideal.
Hypnosis is leading us to imitate culture and the way we think. So I guess our school farewells will soon be called proms. The teenage parties will have condoms instead of candies. Oral sex will not be considered sex.The average age of sexual activity will be 14. Feminism too has become colored. I hate to dig skeletons out of the grave, but what was the Pink Chaddi Campaign all about? I have many friends who supported and celebrated the event but they could never defend their actions completely. I hate and condone what the Shiv Sena did but sending chaddis their way?? Its like a 2 year old spits at me and in anger and despite being an adult I spit back at him. Doesn't the illogicality of the approach and strategy of that campaign hit anyone? Are we copying the bra-burning movement of the 1960s which took place in America(which many historians say is a myth and no such thing ever took place. I am sure we gave some cheap thrills by sending pink chaddis, to whoever we sent them to. Calling ourselves pub-hopping,footloose and fancy free is a way of showing our emancipation?
We are 'The Modern Mother' who prides in the fact that our child does not say namaste or does the 'ancient'feet-touching-as-a-mark-of-respect-to-elders thing. I have taught him to say Hi or Hello and address elders by their last names like the 'Jones' do. "Hi Mr. Sharma, how are you today?" is more like it. We might change our mind though, if the Americans think namaste and touching feet, is the 'in' thing like Yoga and Indian Zoomba.
We prefer Eckhart Toole over Ishavasya Upanishad or Geeta(easier to read and who will bother with Sanskrit and the authentic translations when there is French and Spanish to master).Ballet sounds better than Bharatnatyam.Old age homes in the name of a fast changing and modern world. Spaghetti straps over dupattas. Grimm's fairy Tales is good but why give up Panchatantra completely? I come from an ethnic group which has lost its script. I know what that kind of loss feels like. Integration and assimilation is good but does it have to come at the cost of indigenous knowledge and skills and a certain way of life.How difficult is it to be modern and yet Indian?