I was watching a trailer from ‘The world before Her’ where a lady chastises young girls for being interested in careers and then asks a resounding question ‘Have we become that western?’ Is having a career or leaving the hearth something the western culture has taught us? When someone talks about western culture, how much do they understand what the west stands for?
Do they know that there are enough zealots in the west who want to ‘shelter’ their women from the bad world outside? Puritans who are more conservative than the Indian pundits who ostracize the west. Well I am not trying to weigh who is more conservative. The western civilization has their own culture, ideas and problems. Anything that is deemed bad or has to be proved bad is from the western culture. The so called problem of homosexuality is western culture because Indians were ‘never homosexuals’. Scoff! We have been influenced by the west as much as we have been influenced by the Arabs, Mughals, Chinese and all other civilizations that we have traded, interacted or been ruled by and they have been influenced by us in equal measure.
I recently saw a movie where the film hero has to choose between an Indian girl and his western girlfriend. Can you guess which girl would cheat on him leave him so that he is free to make the ‘right’ choice? Of course its the the western woman, because that’s all they do. They cheat and get divorced. While the proper Indian girl would wear a salwar and occasionally jeans when she has to be modern. She would also worship said hero and fast for him.
If the ideas about the west are all fueled from the movies that Hollywood churns out. Can you imagine the ridiculous ideas the west or the east would get by watching Bollywood movies or TV shows. They would think that all Indian women are dressed in shining glitter when they sleep, cook or plot revenge. They would believe that Indians react a minimum of three times to any mildly shocking incident since the camera pans the actors face at least three times with a background music of dish… dish… dish. They would think that ‘all’ Indian women have no other goal in life than get married and wear make up and jewelery. They would be led to believe that all of India breaks into dance and song at the drop of the hat or dandiya for that matter. The girl who would be covered from head to toe in the hot Indian city would suddenly be dancing wearing skimpy clothes in Switzerland. How she got there would be a great Indian mystery.
There are people in the west that stereotype Indians and we would scream racism but what about when we stereotype the west. I have seen blatant racism in India or racist attitudes sometimes within our race under the guise of caste. So what is this culture that we uphold or is it just an excuse to maintain status quo? The western women dress in skimpy outfits and Indians women are covered. But did you know that the idea of the blouse comes from the west? We were pretty much blouse less under the saree and clothes back then was a more practical idea than an instrument for upholding one’s virtue.
Here is a thought, let us stop blaming the west or for that matter blindly aping the west. It is not about being rigid and thinking that our own way of life is above all else. Indian culture is inclusive and has always been changing and been in constant flux. If we think something is the problem let us not look at external entities as the cause, we are ourselves to blame and when we realize that a lot of the problems that plague India like rape, child abuse, casteism are Indian problems and require Indian solutions. Blaming the west or any other part of world will not solve it for us.