There are shout-outs about the changing culture and our increasing bias towards the West. Yes, it’s true. Sarees have become dresses, brunch is preferred over breakfast, Zumba and Pilates got popular, Shaktiman is not fanciful anymore and we are entertained more by EDM than Carnatic.
Traditionalists constantly raise concerns over this transition but they have to realize that the change is inevitable. If we travel back into our history, even before India existed, the collective geography of Indian land never had a unique culture. Though Hinduism is deep-rooted in our civilization many other popular religions have had their inception here. We were ruled by outsiders for most of the recent past, so long that their cultures got embedded into our land and now we proudly follow them as our own. The gist of these facts being our race is not new to adopt change. The important question however is – Is the change being imposed or is it being welcomed consciously? I believe it is the latter.
What made us inclined towards this change? The answer is simple: the language. Though hard to believe, language is the root for whatever transition is happening/has happened. Apart from communication, language monopolizes the only channel to transfer knowledge. It is a mode to obtain wisdom. English language hosts far more words than any of our ethnic languages and provides greater freedom to express. A lot of interesting studies are available only in English, and understandably so. We can also observe that students from English medium schools tend to be brighter and more successful. It is the process of learning this language that exposes us to Western culture. There is a famous principle in marketing called ‘foot-in-the-door’. Once we get subjected to a new experience, that being good and barring all the constraints, we become vulnerable to that experience. This principle can be used to explain the buying behaviour of a consumer. We go to a Shop 1 and an unhappy experience leads us to go to a Shop 2. If the pattern repeats we eventually stop considering Shop 1. This is happening to us rudimentarily. Children not knowing to speak/read/write their native language, newer audience favouring English content, businesses happening via English language are all results of that Shop 1 being empty. Is the unbiased customer to be blamed or the naive Shop 1?
There is another faction that is concerned about our culture getting diluted, but one may wonder where it all started. Dhotis have turned into pyjamas and pyjamas into trousers. Pyjamas were inspired from trousers and we adopted it for our comfort. If pyjamas are traditional and trousers modern, then what is the barrier?
In today’s scenario English is one of those few factors uniting our nation. All the institutions have acknowledged its importance. It is, well, the second most common survival language. It is bizarre to know that British, who believed in ‘divide and rule’, have in fact, united us by introducing their language. They never would have fathomed that their famous strategy could turn out to be a paradox.