25 Nov 2007

The Self-appointed Cultural Guardians of India and beyond

  • You celebrate Valentines day, be ready to face the wrath of a mob of Shiv-Saniks.
  • You intend to share your thoughts with your best friend of the opposite sex in a public part, be ready to face squabbling policemen happy to find another opportunity to extort money.
  • You intend to write on sex-related issues, be ready to get your house torn down by another mob.
  • You intend you be vocal on the freeman of human being and defining your own cultural surroundings, be ready to hear the comments of your neighbours and all, as if you have defamed the entire country and being.
Welcome to India and the land of self-appointed guardians of Indian culture.

What happens to be a relative issue, requiring self-determination and fellow-ship, is a societal issue, to be determined by a selected few. Its not just a few but a number of issues that come to haunt us. Why is Taslima being persecuted in India? Why does Shiv Sena have to call a riot on every Valentine's Day? Why does exchanging gifts on friendship day needs to be looked at with contempt and disgust? Why, why and why?

Why is it that the society has to determine what you have to do? What is it we are so fascinated with that we are so stuck with preserving? Why should be hear "protecting our culture" as the justification for all mob and privacy infuriating attempts of these self-appointed cultural guardians?

Who is Shiv Sena to say that we should not do x, y, z? Who gave the authority to them to declare the notions of Hindu culture and impose on them? Why, why and why?

We don't find the answers anywhere. Do we really want to be a free society, free country? Do human emotions and values really mean anything for us or are we born to sacrifice ourself for ever under the command of those, who really do not have the brains to distinguish between right and wrong and are only driven by materialistic desires?

Well, the time has come when the Indian citizens should consciously rebuke and out-spirit, instead of as always taking things for granted and believing that the system would some how find a way, if we have to advance, advance for the better.

Past does teach us but all that is past is not good. What values may have hold place at a particular time need not be the guide-posts for advancement and betterment today. We need to adopt with the changing times. We just can't keep cribbing about the changing times and being afraid of failures instead retread to past reminiscences and swear at others. We have to come out of our comfort zones and work to improve our surroundings. That is the only way to compete with the changing times.

But, seriously, it requires thinking with an open mind. And bragging that other cultures are bad and only ours' is the best is not the solution. We have to accept the fact that in this global world cultures will interact and a new culture will evolve. Being xenophobic or contemptuous will seriously not lead us anywhere. So look around, find what is good in others and try to become better, not just better citizens of your country but also better global citizens, who share, respect others' feelings, despite carrying and preserving own values. So next time don't hold in contempt or blasphemy a person you find not in tune with your cultural values but simply accept the fact that life is not just one vision, it can be many other perception, and learn to live with it.

[P.S. I came across an interesting piece which starts from the same premise but draws different conclusion. But worth reading]

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