Over the years the civilizations of the world have adopted many of the West’s styles and ways of life. This “Westernization” has started a downward spiral in destroying the cultural diversity of the world. As one of the oldest nations in the sense of tradition and culture, India has been a land of sages, saints and various renowned scholars. Countless religious temples and shrines built in different parts of the nation expose the devotion to religion and family that dwells within all aspects of India’s culture.
Everything was steady for India until a few decades back.
Most of the people were farmers and survived on their pieces of land. They were satisfied with their earning and hardly had any time to think further. As a result tradition was in touch and people were in harmony with the Indian tradition. Mahatmas Gandhi understood the importance of these traditions and recognized the greatest hope for the continuation of them rely in the villages.
Mahatma Gandhi was a champion of ‘swadeshi’, or home economy. People outside India know of Gandhi’s campaigns to end British colonialism, but this was only a small part of his struggle.
The greater part of Gandhi’s work was to renew India’s vitality and regenerate its culture. Gandhi was not interested simply in exchanging rule by white sahibs for rule by brown sahibs; he wanted the government to surrender much of its power to local villages. As the time passed by and India got independence, the scenario started changing slowly and gradually.
Westernization started attracting the Indian citizens towards it like a magnet. The desires of the western world engrossed the masses of Indians striving to mimic the lifestyle and comforts of the “rich life”.
The intoxication of westernization was so powerful that people started to get carried away with it. The things were new, tempting, and foreign to the people, yet blind to their desires they failed to see that these things might become their habit some day and deviate them from their genuine goods and culture that India once held to be its crown jewel. The greed engulfs the eyes of the Indian Government which spills into the society like a river, causing the people to relinquish themselves to western way of life, even at the cost of forgetting their own rich traditions.
In an excerpt from the book “The Third World” by Paul Harrison, called “the westernized world”, the emphasis is laid on social and cultural aspects. He debates “The under development of the third world and its people cannot be compartmentalized, if it is to be fully grasped. It is a situation in which every element plays a part. The nations of the third world are very dissimilar, but still, there are some similarities. ” Harrison uses the idea of third world to observe these dissimilarities. Harrison recounts a real life experience. A traditional opera, shown in Singapore is watched by the elderly people and the children only.
The younger audience, he was being told, found it too old fashioned. They favored western music to this old fashioned opera. The youth of any third world nation, has a thirst for `something that is western. This could be anything from clothing, music, entertainment shows, or every day habits and styles. Harrisons continues to express how “The mimicry extends to architecture, industrial technology, approaches to health care, education and housing. ” The nations of the third world have their own identity, which is unique in many ways.
Why then do the people forget their own identity and develop a never ending obsession for western way of life? Why do countless countries follow the European way of life, even at the cost of destroying their own traditional and cultural values? In Harrison’s mind “It is the most pervasive example of what historians call cultural diffusion in the history of mankind”. One of the major reason for such submissive mentality, is colonization. Europeans never were and are ready to accept that “native cultures could be in any way, materially, morally or spiritually, be superior to their own.
This insatiable determination to save third-world countries and bring them to a level respectable in the western world has sparked the desire for a falsely painted idea that money and stuff brings happiness. The idea that the least work one has to do while making the most profit is the solution to the issues we face every day. This idea has caused the Indian government and society to fall into the melting pot of greed and social labels. Westernization in India has caused many people to reject their traditional style of clothing and alter their daily life to conform to the styles of the Western part of the world.
Families whose tradition it was to work on a farm and support themselves are now having to flee to the cities to find work due to their inability to survive with the low money they earn. By introducing the multitude of objects and eases of the western world the Indian culture has adopted the totalitarian system very familiar to the western world, one fueled by money and ego controlled by few members of India’s population. For Gandhi, the spirit and the soul of India rested in the village communities. He said, “The true India is to be found not in its few cities, but in its seven hundred thousand villages. If the villages perish, India will perish too”.
Swadeshi is a program for long-term survival. Regardless of the few Indians who held steady to the idea that life worked better when the laziness of western comforts were out of the picture, the masses quickly pivoted India into a new direction deemed worthy by western eyes. Mahatma Gandhi held true to his notion that with new values instilled by the colonization and westernization of India the people of India are doomed to slowly rid themselves of these traditions that were once kept dear. Someone once asked Gandhi, “What do you think of Western civilization? He simply responded, “It would be a good idea”.
For Gandhi a civilization that rests on the support of machines was no civilization at all. A society in which workers are a slave to labor at the side of conveyor belts, in which animals were treated heartlessly in factory farms, and in which economic movement unavoidably lead to ecological devastation, could not be conceived of as a civilization. Its citizens could only end up as neurotics; the natural world would inevitably be transformed into a desert, and its cities into concrete jungles.
The manufacturers, the entrepreneurs, and the intellectuals in collusion with the government see India as part of the global economy working hand in glove with the multinational corporations. As Mahatma Gandhi projected, India’s politic body is seething with corruption. The gap between the poor and the rich is getting thicker and thicker while the poor are poorer than ever, and the growing middle classes are turning away from the Congress Party. The farmers are agitated to find no hope in competition with the seeds patented by multinational companies.
The undeniable corruption that permeates the money and society that been forming in India since English colonization is reaching the brink. The people of India, among whom the teachings of Gandhi are still very much alive, will react against it and will return to swadeshi for the reenchantment of their local culture, their community, and their lives. In fact, the lessons of swadeshi may bring hope for an economics of permanence even among Westerns, once the fraudulent promise of economic growth and industrialism is exposed. Mahatma Gandhi, known as the ‘Father of the Nation’ attempted to revive the public from obsessing over western things.
He initiated a ‘Swadeshi Movement’, highlighting the use of commodities manufactured in the India contrived of its own raw material. He requested people to make use of ‘Khadi clothes’ so that British cloth did not form a monopoly within the market. It has served as a boon for the Indian manufacturing unit and would provide more employment for the poverty-stricken people. Though it was a great move initiated by Gandhi, the seeds of westernization were so deep sown that after the death of Gandhi the Indian scenario totally changed.
India got freedom, and elite group from India started following British trends and implementing them in the nation as well. As a result general public also started following it. Thus drifting the Indian people, culture and traditions towards the world of westernization.