Indian Culture fading in the English Language

Posted on May 14, 2010

Rohan Gupta:

For a long time now (or at least what seems to be a long time) people in India ranging from intellectuals, authors, historians, teachers, parents, (disturbingly enough) students and even aficionados of ‘Indian culture’ have been worrying about the ‘cultural colonization’ of India. Various reasons such as a slight colonial hangover (which embedded in our social psyche makes us accept the cultural and intellectual superiority of the west unquestioningly), grave importance of the English language in the job market, etc have led many, specially the youth of the country, at least in metropolitan cities (Delhi, Mumbai, if not Calcutta too), to have a greater command over English than their native languages. Also along with various cosmopolitan influences they tend to grow up on English pop culture, embodied in shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, South park, and movies like Iron Man, The Hulk and artists like Jay Z, Eminem, Green Day, etc, more than ‘Indian culture’.

This trend is clearly visible in the clear distinctions of the profiles and target audience of various TV channels. While channels like Star world, Zee Café, etc telecast shows specifically meant for this ‘urban elite’ audiences who identify themselves more with the lifestyle of the west than India, Indian channels like Zee TV, Colours, etc have shows which are more specifically meant a slightly older audience but definitely not for the fans of shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Certain channels may be seen as those representing the consciousness of the youth but are more reflective of their social conditioning than active in generating a cultural awareness. It is obvious that exposure to western media will lead to an understanding and acceptance of their culture and society which automatically distances us from our own indigenous cultural milieu. As a consequence a large part of the youth finds itself (well as they say) ‘Indian in flesh and blood but western in spirit’. The disconnection of the youth with its cultural roots may not be extreme in status quo but nonetheless needs to taken care of.

Now this article is not meant to be a rant against the growing influence of English which is killing our culture but it aims to give a suggestion so as to successfully preserve both — the English language for all its economic importance and the Indian culture for all its historical and social significance. It is important to note that despite there being a market for shows in English language in India, which is proved by the successful run of Star World, Zee Café, etc, there are no Indian English shows i.e. shows in English made in India. While American shows condition one with American culture, Indian shows will influence one with Indian culture. The story is as simple as that. By making more Indian shows in English we will be able to communicate references of our own culture, while tapping into probably a fast growing market.

The idea is to affect the social conditioning of the individual i.e. the element of nurture (nature vs. nurture). We cannot get rid of English and its growth and spread in India is inevitable and hence to preserve our culture we need to find ways complimentary to this fact . It is only when we start producing our own movies, shows; ads etc in English that we can say that we have truly adopted the English language and it is by truly adopting this western creation only can we save our heritage from fading into oblivion.

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