Impact of globalisation on Indian culture
Posted December 3, 2006
2 December, 2006
What is Globalisation?
People around the globe are more connected to each other today than ever before in the history of mankind. Information and money flow more quickly than ever. Goods and services produced in one part of the world are increasingly available in all parts of the world. International travel is more frequent. International communication is commonplace.
We live in an intensely interdependent world in which all the earth's peoples with their immense differences of culture and historical experience are compressed together in instant communication. We face today a world of almost infinite promise which is also a world of terminal danger. This phenomenon has been titled 'Globalization.'
'The Era of Globalization' is fast becoming the preferred term for describing the current times. Just as the Depression, the Cold War Era, the Space Age, and the Roaring 20's are used to describe particular periods of history; Globalization describes the political, economic, and cultural atmosphere of today.
While some people think of Globalization as primarily a synonym for global business, it is much more than that. The same forces that allow businesses to operate as if national borders did not exist also allow social activists, labour organizers, journalists, academics, international terrorists and many others to work on a global stage.
British Imperialism or Western Colonialism did not die after the end of World War II when the West gave up its colonies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, West Indies and the East Indies. Gradually it changed itself into a more subtle form which is proving to be more harmful to all non-Western cultures both in the short run and the long run. Indian culture which in effect means Hindu culture, Hindu religion, Hindu society, Hindu civilization, Hindu way of life are under the lethal threat of the ruthless forces of Globalization today. What went by the name of Colonialism in classical history textbooks produced in the days of British Raj has been replaced today by the synonym of Globalization. The unbridled expansion of western culture has continued at an accelerated rate along with the denigration and decline of Hindu culture, civilization, religion, art, literature and customs. This new Colonialism has taken on several new faces or rather put on new masks. It cleverly masquerades itself through labels and slogans like democracy, humanitarian rights, gender equality, internationalism, free trade and humanitarianism. In the name of modernization and Globalization it pretends to be uplifting peoples whom it is really exploiting. This is not very different in either kind or intent from old Western Colonialism � British Imperialism in the Indian context� which vaunted itself as the benign bringer of Civilization and culture to the uncivilized world. It was given the glorious title of 'WHITE MAN'S BURDEN'.
In the Colonial Era in India from 1700-1875, British colonial expansion worked through military, economic, and religious methods. Military force was the primary and initial method. This was little more than organized banditry, stealing the gold, jewels and other treasures of India. Economic exploitation went hand in hand with the military conquest. Later it stooped so low in its methods as to get involved even with the drug and narcotic trades. Later economic exploitation developed into a fine art resulting in the exercise of total control over the natural resources and controlling the economy of India for long term gains.
Religion provided the needed rationale for this cruel plunder. All native Hindus were dismissed as heathens or pagans � despicable creatures who don't have to be treated like human beings till they take their fateful decision to embrace Christianity. According to the missionaries who came to India to play second fiddle to the British Imperial rulers, Christianity was the only true religion. Jesus Christ was the only true God. All other religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and many other traditional faiths and religions in India had to be eliminated to save the souls of India and Indians. All facets and all aspects of Hindu religion and Hindu society were dismissed as idolatry and superstition, in order to advance the noble Christian pursuit of salvation for the barbarous heathens of India. Along with Christian religion came the rest of British or Western culture, thought and customs and the gradual end of traditional ways of life. Thus our traditional religions and cultures were gradually subverted or eliminated. The new Indian converts to Christianity were encouraged not only to give up their religion but their culture, which often had religious or spiritual implications as well. A good Indian Christian convert would dress like an Englishman and emulate English manners in all things. Thus in India the Hindus converted by the British to Christianity were encouraged to think, behave and live like Englishmen. This is what I call Macaulayism. This term derives from Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800 - 1859) who was a Member of the Governor General's Council in Calcutta in the 1830s. He introduces the English system of education to produce Brown Sahibs who were to be English in taste and temperament. This expectation was more than fulfilled even by 1900 and after our independence thanks to our Anglo-Saxon Prime Minister Nehru this process has been completed with consummate ruthlessness.
After the outward display and establishment of the forces of Colonialism, came an intellectual form that was less overt but more dangerous and explosively insidious. The British rulers attempted to colonize our minds by eliminating all our traditional schools and education systems through a progressive system of Western education. This they did in a country like India where Christianity failed to gain many converts. This gave British Colonialism in India the aura of a civilizing influence. Educated Indians having higher education in the colleges opened by the alien rulers in the latter half of the 19th century were made to believe that it was not colonial exploitation that the Englishmen were bringing to India but progressive Western values� training our people in science, art and technology and teaching them better and more equitable forms of government. Native Indian people were helped to learn the skills of veneer of English civilization by becoming modern and rational.
Though all forms of Colonial Empire in the geographical sense came to an end after the II World War, yet the same forms of colonial exploitation continue even today in all parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America under the banner of that all-embracing umbrella called Globalization. Western Civilization in spite of its tall claims to support diversity is only promoting a worldwide monoculture� the same basic values, institutions and points of view for everyone� which it calls 'Globalization.' The brutal and stark truth is that western culture, with its declared pursuit of markets and commodities eliminates all true culture, which is based on quality and not quantity. It creates a culture of filthy lucre and lust for money all the way that submerges any true culture of refinement or spirituality� a dismal culture in which everything can be bought and sold, possessed or capitalized on. All our capitalists and businessmen in India today are gloating and bloating about the ever rising tide of consumerism and consumer culture brought about by the ruthless march of Globalization. This in my view constitutes the greatest assault on Hindu culture and Hindu society by the draconian dragon of gargantuan Globalization.
Macaulayism of British India has become in letter and spirit the Globalization of today. Pound Sterling has been replaced by the US Dollar. To the people of India in general and educated Indians in particular, Globalization seems to be rather mild and well meaning, more like an imperceptible breeze, which blows in silently, fills up the psychological atmosphere, creates a mental mood, inspires an intellectual attitude and finally settles down as a cultural climate � pervasive, protein and ubiquitous. It is not out to use a specified section of Indian society as a vehicle of its virulence. It is not like Islamism which wants to destroy the body of a culture in one fell sweep. It is not subtle like Christianism which subverts a society surreptitiously. Yet at the same time, it is a creeping toxaemia which corrodes the soul of our Hindu culture and corrupts our time- honoured social systems in slow stages. And its target is every section of Indian society. What has been its impact on culture in India? Every educated Indian seems to believe that nothing in Hindu India, past or present, is to be approved unless recognized and recommended by an appropriate authority in the West. There is an all-pervading presence of a positive, if not worshipful, attitude towards everything in Western society and culture, past as well as present in the name of progress, reason and science. Nothing from the West is to be rejected unless it has first been weighed and found wanting by a Western evaluation.
Swamy Vivekananda foresaw the dangers of Globalization as early as in 1893 when he spoke at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. To quote his soul-stirring words: 'Shall India die? Then, from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct ; and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force, and competition its ceremonies, and human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be'. Precisely such a terrible thing is taking place in India today on account of the inexorable and immutable process of Globalization.