On Indian values, sundry world affairs, the end of humanity, and then some..

Great. Firefox just crashed and I lost a bunch of stuff. Don't you hate it when these things happen? Perhaps I should write my post in another program and then just paste it into bloody blogger. Anyway. As I was saying, Wow, its been a long time since my last post - and its unbelievable how much work I've had to finish off last week. But its been an eventful week, and so much has happened around the world - how could I not put down my spectacularly cynical yet positive views on the world at large anyway?

I saw Pan's Labyrinth last week - and it turned out to be a visual treat, very different from what I'd initially imagined it to be - though I must admit it was pretty graphic. Like when the super sized frog spilled its guts inside out and that magic ... oh, but you should go watch the movie if you haven't already - wouldn't want to spoil it for you would I now? :) Kudos to the cast for a tremendous performance - I specially liked the color tones of the movie, which are on the darker side but not quite horror-esque. I'm not sure how its going to fare at the Oscars, but its going to do a sight lot better than anything else which is pitched against it, I can tell you that. Which is more than I can say for any Indian entry for the foreign films categories this year.

Speaking of India, BBC recently had an interesting article which talked about whether India will actually live up to its expectations, as seen by the world today. In fact, they're even devoting an entire section of coverage on TV on Indian affairs - very peachy. Written by someone who's been visiting the country since the early 1970s, the piece goes on to talk about the rampant consumerism which has overtaken a large part of the country. Very true. But is this a good thing or a bad thing? My view would be equating this with a double edged sword - as people become more profit oriented, the traditional ways of Indian culture - that of a welcoming, peace loving people is sure to dilute. For a country that hasn't invaded another in the past few thousand years, perhaps this is a wakeup call to arms? Ingrained culture is hard to wipe out completely, so rest assured, the populace isn't going to become blood thirsty capitalist barbarians anytime soon - but this might give them an edge if they're to compete in a society increasingly being characterized by dog-eat-dog globalization.

But are all of India's traditional values breaking down under the onslaught of consumerism and individualism? Now thats a *toughie*. The foremost question here is - what ARE these traditional values anyway? Respecting people older to you, or merely obeying their every whim and fancy without a word in sideways? Reserving sex as something you do only after marriage, or promiscuously going around town with anyone you can find? Some people come up with things like "touching feet as a mark of respect", skipping which almost condemns you to hell. Meh. Is that the only way you show respect to people? As far as I'm concerned, doing so just to keep up appearances is worse than not doing it at all. So, to see what people on the web think about it, I just googled the term. Go on, go ahead and do it. It sucks ass. No one, I repeat, NO ONE has written one clear word about what "traditional indian values" are.. oh wait.

Boy o boy. Bwahahahahaha. Ladies and gentlemen, may I please present to you this fantastic piece of scholarship. Go ahead, its a one page PDF which lists out Indian values vs non Indian ones. What a load of absolute, first rate CRAP. I can't believe there are people who are not only dumb enough to believe it, they deem it necessary to put this stuff up *online* so that others can "learn" from it. Hehehe, if those really ARE traditional Indian values, I for one am glad that the capitalistic hegemony is going to force us out of them soon enough. *shudder*

My generation - that of twenty somethings, has been one of the most liberal and self sufficient ones in modern times. With the right mix of liberal values, easily accessible education, jobs and expendable incomes, most are doing pretty well for themselves. If that means going out to drink and dance the night away at certain times of the week, fine. Does this really mean that we would in effect, forget about our own culture and get swayed by the big bad capitalist world? Lost our moral ethic? Of course not! Would we rather be in saffron robes sitting around a sage, learning the intricacies of life, the universe and everything, oblivious to anything happening around us? Gimme a break people. The last word in all this is - people aren't stupid enough to "lose" their 'values'. Really. Give them credit - most parents do a fine job tutoring their kids in the values they should adopt. There is a definite need to adapt, but I don't see it happening in conjunction with the said degradation of our cultural mores.

Which brings us to the next question - Are caste and hierarchy being eroded - and if so, are the downtrodden benefiting? Hah. I'm sure they are. Well, I'm not being entirely sarcastic here - you've got to admit, atleast in some sections of society, these things are losing the momentum they had, oh half a century ago. Sure its not all going to vanish in the next year, decade or even 20 years, but its getting there. The tougher question is - are the downtrodden benefitting? The answer to that one, sadly, will occupy a full blown post which would have to talk about politics and all the intricacies therein. Something I'm not quite happy doing. Yet.

Is the explosion of television creating a new, more homogenised Indian culture? Of course it is. Is that even a question? Thankfully the detractors and moral policing of TV has gone down significantly, although I have grouses against people who run the censor board and decide what the masses should see. Really - who gives the government the authority to decide that anyway?

Man, this post got out of hand. I haven't even begun to talk about the entire global warming issue. Its hilarious, how suddenly, the two words have become dirty enough to be avoided by most people in a jiffy. Whats more interesting is that for the first time, the report has had the effect it should have earlier - in a large part because of the openness of the internet. But thats for another post. Which I hope to do soon!


nevermind said...

Am actually beginning to like your deepness. Barely time to scan your post, will comment later. But since no one else is here yet, something about your previous post...

I agree with your double standards point. And so, I wonder how many of the people who earnestly took part in that debate genuinely engage/converse with non-South Asian blogs? If that is happening, methinks it would be a bit like Muslim policewomen actually shaking hands with non-closely related men;)

Zee said...

But I like india the way it is...it's this weird mix of tradition and modernity....it's a strange mix of intrusiveness and letting people be....it's a strange mix of restrictions and liberal living...

gaddeswarup said...

That piece of 'scholarship' seems to be about American Indians.

Red said...

The only thing I find troubling is the Punjabification of Indian culture, when Tam Brams begin having Mendhi sing a longs, you know things are changing

Szerelem said...

hmmm....it's interesting. I actuall agree with Zee India is a mad mix of modernity and tradition. But I do feel that people from the metropolitan cities are quite removed from reality of other parts of the country these days.....

hedonistic hobo said...

many many things to say

1. i seriously challenge the view whether caste and patriarchy (they both go hand in hand and are both equally pernicious forms of social control)will be undermined by capitalistic development. especially with caste, i see it as fitting rather seamlessly in to the social division of labour the capitalist mode engenders. thus i stood out as a sore thumb amongst my peers in my support for reservation. no doubt that the policy design maybe flawed but the intent is right and clear.

2. could you put up the link for the bbc article pileej?

3. 'pragmatic' is an Indian value? i wish we'd been pragmatic enough to patent it because so many non-indians i meet seem to display the same attributes. what. the. fuck. will this colonial plundering never end?

4. 'indirect criticism'!??!?! and what about all those lalilta pawar movies where she bellows 'kaali kaluti kalmoohi, mar kyon nahin jaati?'
hahaha that one's priceless!

5. how you been bebe?

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@nevermind - haha, glad to be appreciated :D

actually, thats pretty true. the blogosphere at this point seems to be clustered around people who are either linked culturally, geographically, or through common aquaintances. Me personally, I've got a bunch of blogs on my feeds list which are written by people from all over - in fact, I rarely look at places like DesiPundit or InstaPundit because I prefer to find stuff on my own using keyword searches rather than possibly biased opinions!!

@zee - hmm, i'm inclined to agree with you - the mix is good. i'm just not sure if the ratio is - and thats whats going to count most in the next decade or so..

@gaddeswarup - yes, my bad. I didn't check the website itself at that point, but you know - the points listed there are QUITE applicable to Indian society too, and thats the reason I didn't take it down. The other of course was that no one on the web has clear ideas on what indian values really are, and this serves us just fine, irrespective of original intent.

@red - hehe, true that. Very true. but you could also look at it as a melding of cultures, although in this case the dominance of one is probably a bad thing. but i guess there're tradeoffs..

@szerelem - yo! i'm not sure how Id look at it though. You're right, the average indian is hardly from metropolitan areas and we must take into account people who haven't had the exposure the latter have had. However. It is the metropolitan chappies which uphold the image India has today on the global stage - no mean task.

@hobo - hey ho :) how're things?

hmm. re caste - i think the concept is abominable. the faster we get rid of it and move on, the better it is. sure, if it means you need to act tough on a large percentage of the population - so be it. the only reason we have the stupid concept continuing is because of shortsighted socialist bastards in the independence era who _totally_ misrepresented the term "affirmative action".

bbc article - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6280027.stm

hehe, pragmatic is perhaps the most underrated of all human values.

hahahaha, and speaking of which - what the FUCK is it with indian men demanding fair wives? i mean, is that judging? Um YES, it IS.

and i'm doing decently well, thank you :) how're things with you?

hedonistic hobo said...

i am well. i ould appreciate it if you greeted me with a 'hey hobo' as opposed to a 'hey ho'. for someone i haven't dated or slept with you really do not deserve to use that moniker

Scritch said...

being the eternally shallow being that I am, all I read was the title of this post ans the fact that firefox crashed.
If I actually cared about the world etc I might read the rest but firefox does actually save shit that crashes. It really does.

Edie said...

Well said.

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