To be clear, I don’t mean modernization. I mean elements of Western culture such as Western songs (like rapping), valuing Western languages more than Indian languages, watching Hollywood movies. Overall, seeing Westerners as superior.
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Thank you for the A2A.
So I have a little theory for this. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not. I don’t know. Like I said, it’s just a theory.
We all know that India was a British colony and hence it was only natural that English became the most widespread foreign language across the country. By and by, all said and done, English rose to become a globally accepted language for communication. So English educated Indians were able to connect to many more cultures much easier and understand them completely.
Slowly, they realized that the more they appreciated and assimilated themselves with foreign cultures, they more accepted they got on a global front. And India was heavily stereotyped as being a land of snake charmers and curry and elephants and brown-skinned men walking around in just a loincloth and a turban and showing the ‘namaste’ sign.
It does get very irritating after a while. People who have been subjected to such questions and reactions will know. So they found it easier to just try and understand and appreciate Western culture so that they may be better accepted, especially with so many Indians living and working abroad. And it is true to a large extent that Indians (or any ethnicity for that matter) who are aware of international trends in music, fashion, etc. are more accepted in multi-cultural crowds. People need to have something to talk about, you see.
For instance,what interest will a person from (say) Czech Republic have in knowing how the new remix version of the Humma song was received in the state of (say) Odisha? Stuff that means a great deal to us would not even make any sense to somebody who is not aware of it like we do. It’s the same the other way round too. But the Czech guy and the Odiya guy could have both watched ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them’ and both could discuss about it with equal passion. Having something common to discuss is always a great conversation starter.
And as to why we do the same thing within our own country, the answer is quite simple. Who are these people who enjoy western music, or watch Hollywood movies or speak mostly in English? It’s mostly the urban crowd. Rural India still listen to their regional music, watch regional cinema and speak almost entirely in their regional language only. So the urban crowd who do those things typically mingle with people from all over India. Most urban centers are job hubs and draw in a lot of people from across the country. Imagine if a Punjabi guy and a Bengali guy share an apartment or work together or whatever. Just think how irritating it’ll get if the Punjabi munda talks about and listens to only Gurdaas Maan and Diljit Dosanjh and the like, and watches only Punjabi movies, while the Bengali Babu talks about and listens to only Rabindra Sangeet and watches only Bengali movies. And then you’ll have state-wise groupism. Like a Tamilian will refuse to stay with anyone other than another Tamilian, a Haryanvi will refuse to be friends with anyone other than another Haryanvi and so on and so forth. Why this divide? When we are living in so diverse a society, it becomes a necessity to work around our differences and have something common between all of us, other than our nationality. And since we are so comfortable with English, it’s quite predictable that people find common interests in watching English movies or listening to songs in English and reading English books and so on.
I do agree that there are times when people get so deeply involved in Western culture that they find our own culture as being regressive and old-fashioned. People who follow traditions are ridiculed and called stupid. Once I was asked on Quora by a fellow smart Quoran something along the lines of → Why are you thrusting your Indianness on an international forum like Quora? The way he had framed the comment, it was as though being Indian is something I ought to be ashamed of…which I obviously am not. I am extremely proud of my identity. But that doesn’t mean I don’t listen to western songs or watch English movies. No.
It’s very easy to get carried away, I know. The trick lies in being able to maintain a balance, and this requires some effort, which most people are not willing to take as they see no point in it anyway. I guess this also explains why it’s considered ‘cool’ to use abusive words in English and if the regional translations for same words are used against the same people, they get offended 😛 LOL
So I wouldn’t want to see this as an ‘obsession’ really. I’d like to see it more like a small part of a larger global survival kit 🙂