Why Are We So Obsessed With Trying To ‘Save’ The Indian Culture And Society, Does It Really Need Saving?

Posted on October 1, 2013 in Society

By Nivedita Rai:

A taboo topic is something that needs an ice breaker. In an average Indian family, the debate around marriage is still considered to be one such topic. I personally fail to digest the fact, not because I am a rebel or an outlaw but because I am in an internal logical conflict within. What perturbs me is the fact that how can people be so strikingly illogical when it comes to relinquishing outdated convictions?

Indian bride

India has come a long way in abolishing brutal and torturous practices that gripped it during the colonial era. We respect the pioneers of change such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who played a crucial role in abolishing the unjust practice of Sati. We are have always resisted oppression, be it external colonial rule or our internal convictions. Why then are we not able to shed our age old orthodox mentality? Why are we so resilient to positive change?

I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering over temporal issues related to marriage, caste, culture, beliefs and sartorial concerns. In India, “Society” occupies the most revered position in our life, especially for people belonging to middle and lower middle class. An in depth psychoanalysis of people belonging to this strata reveals their inherent societal fear. Fear of their reputation being bandied about if they refute accepted norm, however illogical they may be. Fear of being outcast or boycotted by the people is what holds them back.

Obsession towards ‘purity’ of women is prevalent all over. This leads to the tendency to control and protect them in most parts of India. The slogans of ‘India shining’ and ‘Milon humen jana hai’ hold no good in this scenario. Most women do not even enjoy the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression. They have either lost the skill to discern because of age long domination by the patriarchal society or the moral obligations inherent in society do not leave enough space for them to make crucial decisions of their life. Starting from how they will be born – in home with help of midwives or in a hospital, how will they grow up, how should they dress up, where should they study — in a school or not study at all, when they should marry and most importantly ‘whom they should marry?’, all these decisions are taken up by either her father before marriage or her husband after marriage.

Sadly, the gamut of problems India is striving against is large. Ranging from corruption in the top brass to nepotism and bribery at the grass root level, our motherland seems to be held up in misery. Amongst all the bedlam and turmoil, we tend to ignore the subject of equality, fraternity and freedom for all. Turf war and caste politics dominate the agenda. Almost daily, we hear incidences of rape and molestation. Women are the worst victims of casteism. Couples belonging to different castes who enter into wedlock are often subjected to exploitation and torture, and are at the mercy of Khap panchayats and several other institutions that portray themselves as the vanguards of Indian culture. To my amusement, these moral policing pseudo chauvinists are immensely protected by political clout making the entire situation mind boggling.

Clearly, our country’s misguided culture needs an overhaul and it’s high time we shun the barriers of caste, creed and gender and start respecting fellow human beings. People exploiting culture and hiding behind the veil of religion with the intention to play dirty politics of divide and rule should be incriminated. The practice of playing with the emotions of minorities and women should be abolished immediately. Policy makers need to understand that we do not need condolences, what we need is equal status and rights. We do not want pity or mercy, what we pine for is guidance to conquer our dreams. My sincere appeal to my countrymen is to stop encouraging the politics of devastation and racism, we have suffered enough. Embrace humanity as your religion – that’s the epicure for all our woes.

Let us break this inertia of wistful silence and unveil our culture in its true essence.