Is India Still India?

Is India Still India?

This weekend I watched a Hindi movie called "Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na" (Whether you know… or not). I don’t normally watch many Bollywood movies, but a long time ago my wife wanted to watch one so I added it to my Netflix video rental queue. 

While watching the movie it felt a bit like culture shock. I have become so used to the typical Indian melodrama, but this was quite different. As I watched the movie it seemed as though every aspect of it: the people, the locations, the way people dressed and talked was all hyper-westernized. It was filmed in what I am guessing is Mumbai, but I don’t think I saw a single scene in which you could really tell that it was India. It was as if India was white-washed in trying to not to actually show Indian culture. Just the rich, "modern", and so-called sophisticated people. It seemed almost as if the Indian people were ashamed of who they were and wanted to look like something different. 

I started to wonder if it was just this movie or if I have been gone from India so long that everything has actually become overly "westernized" (which I mean in the negative sense!) It makes me think of the parallel of being a Sikh and of maintaining our unique and noble identity in contrast to people wanting to change their appearance in order to fit in and be "cool" or "normal."

It reminds me of the time when I was in Delhi many years ago in Kurta Pajama Bana in a fast food place and at the next table over all the people were trying so hard to be like Americans. Here I was an American who, dressed in simple cotton looked like an Indian in many ways and they were trying to go the other way.

I also thought about the matrimonial ads of people highlighting their "wheat-ish complexion" as if being white/light skinned made them superior in some way. If you have dark skin then you are called a "blacky" (which is  not a good thing.) It’s no wonder that some Indians seem  so predjudiced about some of my African-American Sikh friends with their beautiful black skin.

I know it’s inevitable that eventually the different cultures will all mix, but as someone who lives in a Western country I see the negative side of it which is so empty and filled with unhappiness. American culture has so much sexual influence in every aspect of life. Relationships for many seem so superficial and not based on anything concrete. Divorce is rampant. Kids are having sex sometimes even before they are in their teens. Your status is all about what people think of you (e.g., how popular you are, how you look, etc). When guys look at a girl, all they can think about is sex. Women become sex objects for men, and women use their sexuality to manipulate men and sell their respect for attention. It’s a downwards spiral towards emotional drama and pain. 

Ok, the movie wasn’t bad. It just made me really wonder if India has become so far gone that the youth of India have fully adopted Western ways, which to me is sad and scary. My son is now going to school in India and as I think about visiting him, I wonder what I am going to see there and how India has changed since I last was there.

For me the downfall of a society is to adopt these Western traits. It’s sad to see. America is a consumer society, rampant with waste, fast food, obesity and more health issues then one can name. What ever happened to the old culture of America and India that was respectful, courteous and helpful? It seems the negative sides have taken over and are taking their toll. 

I suppose it’s one of those things that is such a strong force, like a cultural tidal wave, that there is no stopping it. Time will take it’s course and the consequences of such lifestyles will come to light. I suppose it’s just part of God’s plan. Sometimes things have to get very bad in order for people to be able to wake up.

Personally I would rather not learn the hard way through the hands of time. It’s at the end of one’s life that one wishes one had done things differently or had led a happier life.

All these things around us are just temporary and are distractions from the essence of who we all are and from understanding and living our destiny on this planet. Without a spiritual practice as the center of your life you are just riding aimlessly on the emotional roller coaster of life. Then life becomes a drama, not a Dharma.