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Differences in Cultures Experience

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Essay title: Differences in Cultures Experience

“Kids today have no moral values or sense of culture!” – a very common grievance of parents today whose parents -in their time- lamented about their lack of ethics and whose parents in turn complained of their unfavorable attitudes, whose parents again worried about the decline in tradition. This cycle of change in culture dates back even to times when what we now call �our culture’ and �our ethics’ were not even formed. It is evident that man has constantly felt the breath of changing values and cultural shock breathing down his neck, following him relentlessly over ages and posing him the same apparent danger that we claim to face today. Many have felt it, seen it, hated it and feared it. We have sung about it over ages and many before me have endeavored to write on this very topic. So, I cannot guarantee to offer you more on this subject than you have already heard before. I can only elaborate on what my predecessors had to say and give you my point of view.

Everything around us is changing. Change -as we maintain- is the side effect of growth: growth, which may be physical, mental, economic, social or just plain overall development. But, the change that we talk of has a wider connotation and a much greater role to play in our lives than any other kind of transformation. I would rather term change as both the result and the precursor of growth. Growth depends on man’s willingness to change, to take risks and to dispose of damaging beliefs. The extent of change defines the degree of growth. So this change in culture or values can be either adverse or favorable. Wasn’t the abolition of Sati and Female Infanticide a cultural shock and a change in values to many? But do we categorize this change as unneeded? All change in principles needn’t be uncalled for.

We speak of Indian Culture. What exactly is this Indian culture? Isn’t it true that the values of north Indians differ from the values of south Indians? East from west? One state from another and one city from another? So how can we tell each other to abide by Indian culture if this term is but an ocean of different thoughts, ideas and cultures? We boast of unity in diversity. From where did this diversity arise? The uniqueness of our vastly complex society is the end product of the eagerness of our ancestors to learn more and live better. Our values, which we hold dear today, are an intricate infusion of principles from outsiders – be they traders, explorers or even colonists. India is like a giant tree whose roots have dug deep and far into foreign soils, taking in the nutrients of alien customs and combining them with our own in such complex weaves that they become our own. We grew strong and sprouted new leaves and built a nation on values which we claim to be our own, not realizing where our roots drew water from. So while parents instruct us to follow Indian tradition, they are just referring to an assortment of basic ethics and approved code of conduct and decency in their society.

In the south the western clothes are considered immoral, however decent they may be because they are not products of our culture. On the other hand salwar kameezes (however revealing or offensive) are acceptable as they are considered traditional. Isn’t it ironic that these clothes aren’t exactly traditional to south India, but in reality they are the attire of Punjabis? So where is the prospect of changing values when we are not sure ourselves of what these values are? When you delve deeper, most of the things, which we identify as traditional, may be seen as vulgar in other societies. The west –which is branded by us as quite lacking in values- may think that our traditional saris with the belly showing, is quite offensive.

Traditional values are changing. We are aping the west and making monkeys of ourselves. While Hollywood is extolling the history of their own people and making movies like �Gangs Of New York’, �Pirates Of The Caribbean’ and other epics, Bollywood is busying itself with desperate attempts to make amateur �American teen’-like movies and Hollywood flicks. While we concentrate on remixing songs and duplicating English videos, we are slowly stepping away from the path of originality and individuality. But while in the last generation there was just plain following of western principles by the youth, now, there have been greater benefits. The youth today not only learn from the west, but they –like their great ancestors who built this nation- are combining this knowledge with our own culture and now a time has come where the west is aping the east. Punjabi tunes, desi styles and Indian art has hit markets overseas and is making us known to the world. So while there is change -like I mentioned earlier, it is not all for the worse.

But the youth still yearn for a change in ethics. They demand

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