Observe both the sexes in a Mandir someday. Even ultra-mod people will revert to their culture; gone is the condescension and the disdain. Also observe the adherence to rituals and norms. And spot the rush in the temple which has increased exponentially over time. You will like as not spot a kaleidoscope of people from all walks of life – from the jeans-and-t-shirt clad girls and boys, to the corporate hotshot; from the conservative saree-clad lady to the western suited professional lady; from the staid middle class gentleman to the utlra-mod torn jeans and spiked hairdo-ed businessmen and teens.
- Observe the simple practice of hiding cigarette in front of known elders and teachers that is still commonplace today
- Observe a simple nuance of just brushing your chest in respect and silent prayer on passing a temple, or a church – or any other place of worship, depending on your religion. Hindus even do that to all places of worship. And observe the person who does this; these people will defy all attempts at stereotyping
- Observe the habit of respectfully touching the body of a person whom you have inadvertently touched with your feet
- Observe Indian Classical music festivals – and note the increasing number of modern youngsters who are taking to it – both as fans as well as artists
- Observe how even the most obdurate of non-vegetarians will observe a vegetarian day – as per their individual beliefs
- Observe the adherence to familial hierarchies: how the elder brother is always the elder; how the elder always marries first, how elderly people are shown respect
- Observe the increasing equality of women in our society; and observe how we are learning to take it in our stride. Yes, problems remain – but my point is that ladies are increasingly equal, and that this has not impacted any other parameter. Observe how the familial unit has re-structured to this new reality. Observe the increasing support some males give to their working spouses
- Observe the continued preference for arranged marriage; also observe how, in case of love marriages – everything else proceeds as though in an arranged marriage – parents of the kids meet, decide everything and so on
- Observe the continued strength and resilience of the family unit, and the close relations between cousins, uncles and aunts from both sides of the family
- Or take a look at the top-rated shows as per trps…
The above points further underscore the theory lesson I told in my article The Culture Conundrum. The outward manifestation of culture does not change the internal make-up so very easily. The core values are still strong; the core norms of our culture are still unchanged. As I said, this does not mean that they are not under challenge: but they have been challenged before, and have overcome. This reduces the problem from that of a cultural threat, to the level of a cultural – and more particularly – nation building challenge…
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- First, The Atlantic Charter. When the freedom for the world was being discussed, self-determination for all was considered. India was not included in this landmark treaty. India was denied the right to freedom by that paragon of freedom, by that great supporter of freedom the USA. This was a major blow; the leaders of our independence movement were shocked by this betrayal. “How can I fight for a thing – freedom – which is denied to me?” Jawaharlal Nehru. The USA interpreted it as standing in the path of the war; totally forgetting the Indian right to freedom. This was perhaps the starting point of the deterioration.
- Second, consistent denial of technology to a growing, needy and hungry nation in dire need of technological improvements. This gained ground after the entry of Pakistan into the US alliance in 1954. We were, for example, denied steel plant technology – when we first approached the USA. The USSR gave it to us; we took it. Why shouldn’t we? We came to USA first, but were spurned.
- Third, supply of arms to Pakistan. This continues till date; despite credible and concrete evidence of its usage against India in both overt as well as covert missions. Enough said.
- Fourth, sending the 7th fleet against India in the 1971 war to intercede on Pakistan’s behalf, ignoring the problems- the real problems – India was facing, or the fate of the Bangladeshis, or the genocide and massacres being carried out there.
- Fifth, arming Mujahideens, setting up ISI for operations in Afghanistan starting 1988. The USA totally ignored the possibility that the ISI would use these arms and intelligence assets against India. This decision is ultimately responsible for Operation Topac of Pakistan, and the sudden influx of terror into the then-peaceful Kashmir. India has not known a peaceful day since that fateful decision – the loss in terms of lives has been incalculable. There is not even the hint of remorse on the US side; despite being given evidence of Pakistani complicity.
- Sixth, the 1998 sanctions on the Nuclear Tests, and the 2001 about-face as the USA belatedly woke up to the potential market of India, as well as the chance of selling their stuff to us. But this did not go so far as the Cryogenic Technology; which they are still denying to pass on. No matter: we are scheduled to test our own indigenous version in June 2013
- Between 1815 and 1828, 63% of all recorded acts of sati took place in Calcutta
- In 1824, of the 250000 women who became widows, 600 underwent sati.
- In Varanasi, there were only 125 cases in 9 years from 1820.