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The paradox of modernity: How its impact on Indian culture surpasses colonization

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Meghraj Gole
Meghraj Gole
History, Politics and Current Affairs.

Two factors—colonization and modernity have had a profound impact on Bharat’s cultural fabric. While colonialization imposed external dominance, modernity pose a unique internal challenge. Modernity, characterized as the process of becoming civilized, is frequently associated with Christian perspectives and Westernization.

Its impact on Bharat’s culture is beyond that of colonization, as it threatens our traditions, festivals, and knowledge systems. This piece highlights the meaning and origins of modernity, cultural resistance during British rule, the influence of modernity on our heritage, and the significance of preserving our cultural legacy.

When observed from a Christian perspective, modernity is often associated with development and civilization. During the colonial era, Christianity and Western philosophy developed the belief that modernization meant renouncing indigenous traditions and practices and adopting European ideals.

This Christian-centric perspective promoted the idea that indigenous civilizations were primitive and needed to be civilized. Modernity’s correspondence with the Christian perspective generated an ideological divide between Western ideals and indigenous culture.

The Resilience of Indigenous Culture during Colonization

During the two centuries of British colonization of Bharat, many attempts were made to erode and replace indigenous culture. However, despite these challenges, Bharat displayed exceptional resilience. The tenets of diverse faiths, deeply rooted in spirituality, philosophy, and rituals, constituted a strong defense against the infiltration of Western ideals. Cultural adaptations, imparting the knowledge system, and the persistence of religious practices played a crucial role in preserving the spirit of the indigenous culture.

Indigenous culture continues to persist for many centuries after the invasion. Various festivals continue to be celebrated with enthusiasm fostering an aura of unity and identity among communities. Ancient knowledge systems, including philosophy, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics, are still cherished. The unwavering devotion of people, communities, and organizations to conserve and promote our rich legacy is responsible for cultural resilience.

Although culture has effectively survived colonization, the younger generation, heavily influenced by Western ideas, typically perceives their culture as outdated and irrelevant. Globalization and the dominance of Western Culture are the causes of the erosion of indigenous knowledge and traditions. They are less conscious of the significance and symbolism underpinning our traditional beliefs, resulting in less adherence to the traditions, morals, and practices.

Eurocentric Modernity and its Impacts on Indigenous Cultures and Societies

It is crucial to understand that the colonizers, who believed their race to be superior and who aimed to set themselves apart from the colonized, were the ones who introduced the concept of modernity. They portrayed themselves as having a scientific or logical worldview, which supported the Eurocentric perspective through which modernity was perceived.

This Eurocentric perspective had a powerful impact on the indigenous society as they adopted the notion of being judged against this Western standard. To be considered “modern” or “civilized,” they started to apply modern logic and reasoning to their cultural traditions and to follow Eurocentric norms.

The idea of European culture as the pinnacle of modernity has persisted throughout history, serving as the standard by which indigenous cultures all over the world are judged. A universal standard for morality, ethics, religion, language, and knowledge has been established using this method, often ignoring the rich diversity and complexity of other cultural systems.

The imposition of Eurocentric standards, and attempts to adopt them, had profound consequences on the indigenous societies. They have had to balance preserving their cultural traditions with trying to live up to the standards imposed by the prevailing European worldview. The impact of this Eurocentric perspective on indigenous civilizations deeply penetrated culture, affecting ideas about identity, self-worth, and societal systems.

The Clash Between Modernity and Cultural Identity

Modernity has brought remarkable developments to science, technology, and communication. The attraction of Westernization, however, has caused a disdain for traditional knowledge and practices. To be considered modern and progressive, the younger generation often seeks to distance themselves from their cultural roots as being exposed to global trends and influenced by Western media. This alienation from their roots has resulted in a lack of understanding and appreciation for the depth and diversity of Indigenous culture.
The clash between modernity and traditional practices can be observed in many aspects of daily life. People’s behavior has been greatly influenced by modernity, as have ethnic norms, traditions, literature, art, manners, and attire. For example, wiping off kumkum from the forehead before entering a professional setting is one example of modifying religious symbols or practices that reflects the internal conflict individuals face as a result of societal pressures and a perceived clash between modernity and cultural identity. Similar issues develop when people are hesitant to express their religious views or rituals in public areas or workplaces.

Striking a Delicate Balance

Finding a careful balance between valuing and nurturing our historical traditions while embracing progress and development is necessary to preserve Indigenous culture in the face of modernity. Recognizing that not every tradition, belief, or cultural practice is intended to be followed in the same manner in contemporary society is essential. It doesn’t always diminish our culture’s essence when we change certain aspects to fit contemporary sensibilities; rather, it maintains its continuation and relevance. It is crucial to develop an atmosphere that promotes historical pride and encourages young people to explore and understand their cultural origins.

Conclusion

Beyond the effects of colonization, modernity brings unique challenges to Indian culture with its Christian-centric viewpoint and Western influences. Although culture remained resilient under colonization, the hybrid colonialism that is modernity poses a challenge to our traditions, beliefs, and knowledge systems.

Maintaining our cultural legacy necessitates striking a delicate balance between preserving and nurturing our traditions while accepting progress and growth.

As a society, we must recognize that a person without knowledge of their past, history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots. Our cultural legacy is the form through which we reflect on who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to be as a nation.

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Meghraj Gole
Meghraj Gole
History, Politics and Current Affairs.
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