Westernisation is often just about adoption of western attire and life style. Are there other aspects to being westernised? Or is that about modernisation? Discuss.
M.N. Srinivas defines westernisation as “the changes brought about in Indian society and culture as a result of over 150 years of British rule, the term subsuming changes occurring at different levels…. technology, institutions, ideology and values.”
There were different kinds of westernisation :-
- One kind refers to the emergence of a westernised sub-cultural pattern through a minority section of Indian who first came in contact with the western culture. This included the sub-culture of Indian intellectuals who not only adopted many cognitive patterns or ways of thinking but also styles of life and supported its expansion,
- There has been a general spread of western cultural traits such as the use of new technology, dress, food and changes in general.
Westernisation does involve the imitation of external forms of culture. It does not necessarily mean that people adopt modem values of democracy and equality.
Apart from western ways of life and thinking, the west influenced Indian art and literature. The painting of Krishna Menon family in matrilineal community in Kerala but it reflects the very typical patrilineal nuclear family of the modern west consisting of the mother, father and children.
Srinivas suggested that while lower castes’ sought to be sanskritised the “upper caste’ sought to be westernized. But this generalization is difficult to maintain. For example, the Thiyyas (by no means considered an upper caste) in Kerala show conscious efforts to westernize. Elite Thiyyas appropriated British culture as a move towards a more cosmopolitan life that criticised caste. Also, western education opens up new opportunities for different groups of people.
- Modernity assumes that local ties and parochial perspectives give way to universal commitments and cosmopolitan attitudes;
- That the truths of utility, calculation, and science takes precedence over those of the emotions, the sacred, and the non-rational;
- That the individual rather that the group be the primary unity of society and politics;
- That the associations in which men live and work be based on choice and not birth;
- That mastery rather than fatalism orient their attitude toward the material and human environment;
- That the identity be chosen and achieved, not ascribed and affirmed;
- That work be separated from family, residence, and community in bureaucratic organization.
It would be simplistic to state that complex combinations are just a mix of tradition and modernity as though tradition and modernity themselves are fixed entities. Or as though India has or had only one set of traditions. Modernity and tradition are constantly being modified and redefined.