Tuesday, August 9, 2016


One area where colonial impact was the most profound was - cultural sphere. Our education system, our dressing, our architecture, our sports - all gave way for a new cultural system. Not only in India, it happened across the world. It is also termed as 'cultural universalization/homogenization' by some who see it as an inevitable cultural evolutionary process. Some countries like China and Japan preserved some aspects - like their languages which others couldn't -but they also gave away to a lifestyle which is primarily Western. English (and other European languages) became colloquial languages in their colonies to a large extent. This is also termed as 'cultural hegemony' by many socio-political analysts, while others don't have such an adverse view. Some form of cultural exchange is inevitable in a globalized world, but it is problematic if it is skewed. When some ideas dominate over others, there can be cultural backlashes as well. Recent instances of call to glorious pasts and rise of fundamentalists are cases in point.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Some years back, I watched a wonderful play 'Ambedkar vs Gandhi' at Shriram Center, Delhi presented by the Asmita Theater Group. It was based upon the ideological differences between Gandhiji and Ambedkar on the issue of caste. Gandhiji had a reformative view of the caste system, as he had similar views about all distorted social systems. He was of the view that caste as a system was not atrocious per se, but the way it was practiced was. He had a great respect for all forms of human labor and he viewed caste as more of a division of labor with no notions or values attached on the qualitative aspects of the labor. To prove his point, he did all the work that was considered lowly by the then prevailing society. On the other hand, Ambedkar had diametrical opposite views. He deemed caste as an evil which had oppressed the Shudras and vitiated the whole Indian society as well. According to him, thought of reformation of such a deeply entrenched system was Utopian and the only way to get rid of it was annihilation of the system itself. He suggested the decimation of cultural dogma related to caste via constitutional framework and the rule of law. However, contribution of both the leaders in creation of an egalitarian society was enormous and unmatched by any other leader in India. It was just that they chose different paths to reach the same goal.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Early Britishers and Europeans stereotyped India as a country of snake-charmers. Many early Indologists banked upon the ancient Hindu literature to create an Indian imagery which was at best only a partial conceptualisation of the diverse Indian society. India is a unique canvas which is suitable for many hues. It is modern and traditional, conservative and outgoing, all at the same time. It is a place which appears the way you want it to appear. You change the glasses and it appears as a different place.