Clash between two cultures
India is a patriarchal society and a woman is seen as a private property at every stage of her life.A woman’s purity is linked to the status of her family and any kind of impurity to her self-respect renders her as a black spot on the symbolic status of family and society while the same doesn’t go for men.The impurity produced by rape or sexual harassment can’t penetrate into the cultural shield of offenders.Laws and customs ,modernity and tradition are present side by side stretching the woman in confusion and conflict.Conviction rates are low, justice is expensive and patriarchal currents flow in every authority of the state.All this push back even a well educated woman as in the analysis of exposure and conviction she finds herself at loss.
Recent incident of mass molestation on the eve of New year celebration, in Bengalauru speaks a lot about the clash of two dichotomous cultures . It also tells a lot about the conflict between rising individualism and conservative collectivism.Women were criticized by the Home minister of Karnatka for attracting aggression by going out alone late in the night in a western event in western attire.This kind of attitude is hard to expect from a representative of a democratic country .Democracy is all about the freedom of choice and without freedom there can be no individuality.A democratic country has to be a champion of individualism and this is what western democracies represent but unfortunately we are still living in the past of west.
Why this clash of civilizations?
It is a well known observation that two or more parties or cultural communities remain in peaceful cooperation until there occurs a challenge from one party or community to other.This is the reason that the atrocities against the lower strata of caste system (Dalits) accelerated after independence as independence brought Articles 16 and 17 of the constitution, protection of civil rights Act 1955 and SC and ST prevention of atrocities Act 1989 all of which posed a challenge to the waning agrarian dominat caste. Same goes for men and women with independence bringing a constitution committed to empowerment of women in every aspect of life and hence safeguarding them with fundamental rights and DPSP. A sociological study conducted by Cole and Gramajo published in population and development review found that the rate of homicide increased in the societies with women education.They then hypothesized the reasons for this and one of the important reasons was that men especially those in unorganized sector and belonging to lower working class consider women’s education and labour participation as a challenge to their employment and dignity.
In india if one looks at the socio-economic conditions of those who are convicted in sexual harassment , rape and other offences against women then it will appear that these are those people who are usually unemployed , rural migrants , lower working class members or urban poor. This is due to the reason that there exist rural-urban and lower-upper dichotomies in India where rural and lower classes usually( not always) represents the tradition and urban and upper classes represents the modernity.Thus, when the traditional culture see the western culture it perceive it as a challenge or something strange and hence the clash of cultures.
A question then can be raised that why there are offenders who happen to be from well educated families i.e upper class families even if small in number. Well, it can be said that such people are in transitionary stage i.e these are the people who have drifted away from the tradition partially and have not yet acquired the whole modernity . M .N. Srinivas a renowned sociologist writes that modernity is a& value loaded& concept. The peculiarity of India is that its modernity never evolved naturally like it evolved in the west but was brought by colonialists as a gift. Due to this reason India has gone for Indianization of modernization i.e a kind of selective modernity. Thus, a majority of indians holds the tradition , few are in transition and very few have been modernized fully.
What can be done ?
From the above discussion one can say that till India becomes a one culture these conflicts are bound to occur but at the same time it is not impossible to accelerate the transitional stage of India’s cultural evolution. A lot has been already done and another lot has to be done. We hold the largest written constitution filled with modernity but what we need is implementation. We have exceptions but they must be converted into norms. When a revolutionary change in the political system can happen with the help of media it can also happen in the society. Society can be sensitized with the help of civil society , comunity and a committed political class. Sensitizing centres for traditional migrants need to be opened where they can be introduced to modern values prior to their confrontation with a strange modernity.They can be introduced to the rewards and punishments that their actions can bring.
I think , awareness is the first and necessary step to start for a change to bring. We very often encounter an isolated population in our remote rural areas that is unaware of the world out there . It is unaware of its fundamental rights and fundamental duties laid down in our modernity loaded constitution. Constitution is for all and it was never meant for an urban educated and well to do class.
(An emerging independent thinker)