A large section of our so called intellectuals and liberals are only physically living in India, mentally and culturally they belong to the ‘west’. The historians, educationists, media and politicians knowingly or unknowingly, encourage and promote this psudo-liberalism and degradation.

Thomas Macaulay (1800-1859), creator of the foundations of bilingual colonial India who said, “We must do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect” must be laughing in his grave, in satisfaction.

 

Alienating our own culture

 
Balbir K Punj

Over the last 10 days, English dailies and many leading vernacular newspapers in the country have been devoting columns after columns to pop star Michael Jackson who recently passed away. About a fortnight ago, sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan passed away in the US, a country he had migrated to some years ago. The Press here devoted just a few paragraphs to his demise. Even a memorial meeting that was organised in New Delhi in his remembrance and attended by several eminent artistes got desultory coverage. But on July 8, the same newspapers were giving prime space to Michael Jackson’s funeral.

The contrast truly brings out how we Indians have become culturally decadent. By any standard the Ustad’s stature as a musician was far greater than Jackson’s. True, the American pop singer made tonnes of money and his fans were spread all over the world. He died in huge debt and the latest reports on his death say that he was literally living on several different ‘pills’, and that overdose might have been the cause of his untimely demise. Yet, when one thinks about the obsessive media coverage that Michael Jackson’s death got as compared to the blink-and-miss variety reporting that Ali Akbar’s demise elicited, one is compelled to conclude that our cultural values have slowly been eroded away.

For the last 15 days we have been reading a lot about Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises unnatural sex such as homosexuality and bestiality. When the Delhi High Court gave its surprising verdict on this section and dubbed it as unconstitutional, the usual bunch of ‘liberals’ and ‘intellectuals’ proclaimed ‘freedom’. But what was even more surprising is that several newspapers encouraged them. What about the impact on society you ask. The ‘liberals’ couldn’t care less. As in the case of Michael Jackson, they were busy aping the West. They were not even bothered to consider the cancer that such misplaced notions of liberalism had wrought on Western society in the form of same sex ‘marriages’, decline in marital bonds within heterosexual families, increasing violence among children whose parents have changed partners several times over, the spread of drug culture, etc.

A society that idolises Michael Jackson is highly superficial. Almost every leading Western music band has thrown up idols who ended their lives prematurely due to drug abuse. This fact has been revealed in their biographies.

In contrast, in Indian classical music, artistes devote their whole lives to their art. They do not need any drug for this. They go on devotion, determination and love for their music. They perform from the heart and their music is part of their devotion to god. Whereas, Western musicians, especially pop and rock musicians, are least bothered about their art. All they are worried about is to put on a good show, and they are willing to go to any lengths for this — taking drugs, using abusive language or even publicly making a fool of themselves.

Our education system has much to answer for this decadence among our young who blindly follow Western culture. How many of our students read Kalidas’s works in either the original or translations? How many of our economics graduates can quote even one line from Kautilya’s Arthasastra? Pick out any 10 higher secondary school students and ask them to name one reputed classical singer. Most of them will fail this test. The moment a conscientious Education Minister, like Mr Murli Manohar Joshi was, tries to incorporate some study of Indian cultural in the school syllabi, ‘liberals’ and ‘intellectuals’ gather to condemn this as ‘saffronising’.

Ages ago, Valmiki in his Ramayan portrayed Ram as travelling through many parts of India whose geography, flora and fauna were described in great detail. Kalidas in his Meghdoot describes the entire country from north to south. If someone so much as even suggests that our school curricula incorporate the magnificence of this poetic imagination that almost accurately describes our country, the liberal crowd would call him a Hindutva demagogue.

This alienation with our own cultural achievements exists even when our men and women have gained recognition in the West. This is why Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan chose to stay in the US in the latter half of their lives. Even our spiritual greats like ISKCON founder Bhakti Vedanta Prabhupada and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became known to our national conscious only through the West.

There is something seriously wrong with us if we are willing to spend crores on statues for our political leaders but are not willing to recognise the greatness of our spiritual leaders and artistes or support them generously when they need it the most. Could it be our education system that is to blame for inculcating this sense of inferiority for everything Indian unless some foreigner recognises its true worth?

— punjbk@gmail.com

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