By Tomazinho Cardozo
The Indian social structure is based on the caste system. These castes are fixed by birth. No one can choose the caste of his choice. It is the one permanent feature in the life of an individual. In spite of this the Indian social structure has been deeply influenced by the West.
This has made the caste system flexible to an extent although the system still dominates social behaviour. Industrialisation and urbanisation have thrown the rural social structure out of gear.
Society has become more dynamic and traditions are breaking down. Caste distinctions can no longer be sustained.
The impact of cast system is no longer felt in the different walks of life. Industrialisation has resulted in bringing people of different casts together in the work force, which is hired for their abilities and qualification and not their cast. Money has come to be greatly valued. Hence, today it is the financial status that decides a man’s worth. Western education, which aims at establishing a secular culture, is also responsible for inculcating a scientific temperament and thus lessening the importance of our traditional rituals.
Family relations and ideals have also been greatly influenced. The institution of marriage itself has undergone a drastic change. Not only are families disintegrating, people want small families. Permanency of marriage is at risk. Educated women are not able to merge their personalities with that of the family like the earlier women. They are also economically independent. Thus ego problem arise among husbands and wives. Their affection for their child is no longer deep and abiding and divorce is not an issue. On account of these factors the basis of family is no longer permanent. In fact, this is a very serious challenge institution of marriage faces.
Yet another adverse effect seen is the disintegration of the joint family system. No doubt the joint family system had its disadvantages, but the advantages far outweighed these. Youth do not want to sacrifice their privacy and pleasure at the altar of joint family. Thus the elders of the family are neglected and dumped in old age homes. The older generation, responsible for shaping the future of their children, today spend the evening of their lives without love, and without family care.
The influence of the western culture can be felt on the language, literature, music, art, religion, etc, and can be briefly analysed as follows:
The West has deeply influenced Indian languages. English words used in Indian languages outnumber words from all other foreign languages. Indeed without the fund of English words vocabulary of Indian languages is incomplete. All mechanical devices and instruments are the gift of the West. Most of them have English names, without the use of which we cannot communicate easily.
The Indian literature too shows signs of influence. Short stories and one-act plays have become common in Indian literature. Besides, we can see the influence of ideologies of atheism, secularism, communism, personal freedom and humanism in Indian writings, thanks to the impact of western literature.
Like language and literature, art has also come under the impact of the Western Culture. In Indian cinema the use of the Western dance and music is quite common. Musical instruments like violin have influenced Indian music. Modern art is very much a foreign import.
Intellectualism has shaken the religious faith of many an Indian. Many superstitions have been cast off. Ritualism is losing its hold and sanctity. Religion is becoming less important in the lives of many people. Many educated persons have lost touch with religious scriptures and believe them to be out-dated on account of their secular training. They are not prepared to take them seriously.
This influence on the Indian society and culture is rapidly increasing. Many are so dazzled by the Western culture that they mock their own culture and traditions. This is unfortunate. The leadership of our country rightly wants to encourage the Indian culture. This is a laudable step. But as we should not be blind worshippers of the West, we should at the same time not worship the Indian culture blindly. There should be synthesis of the two.