Where Are We Headed?

Change. Change is the only thing that is constant in this world. Without which, we would not be able to survive. I have witnessed this change every time I have come to India, for vacations on a yearly basis, from not just one but the two countries I’ve called home for more than half of my life.
Being a person who doesn’t stay in a location for too long and having lived in different parts of the world, I can safely say that I have the right to comment on this topic. I remember when I first came to India, the one question that was on everybody’s lips was, ‘Which country do you like better?’, and I would be as diplomatic as Aishwarya Rai and reply, ‘Both.’ They would then say that it was a good thing that I moved to India as people here have better values and you are less likely to go astray here than there.
Having grown up in this country as well, I can say that is not fully true. Ten years ago – maybe. Now – certainly not, especially with my generation. This makes me worried about my future and my children’s futures.
I remember when I first came to India for holiday around 10 years back – people in the road literally stopped what they were doing and stared at me. I was a kid wearing jeans and a tee – not the paavada or churidar all the girls were wearing at the time. Now when I step out of my house in India, girls are even more ‘modern’ than me – with their tank-tops and short-shorts.Why is it that I feel people are as likely to go astray here, as anywhere else in the world? Well I for one feel that people in India do not do what feels right for themselves but they try to copy what is right according to western standards. And that is absolutely the wrong way to think. Just be yourself. People in the West do certain things because it is acceptable in their culture. If you start acting like somebody else, it is going to get you in a lot more trouble than it is worth.
Due to all the exposure that we are getting from the West, my generation which questions society, is curious and believes in experimenting. Sounds like a good thing, but there is a flip side to it too. In my generation, many kids are contemplating whether being sexually promiscuous is the way to go about, because apparently “that is normal”. I would just like to say – you couldn’t be more wrong. There are even westerners who do not believe in such things and no, they aren’t the super-religious types either.
Yes, things admittedly happen openly in the Western world. But that does not mean it is not happening here. It very much is and is starting to gain rapid momentum. Even though it may not happen in the open, people are smoking and drinking at a young age and hiding it really well.
Where have the days gone where kids knew what was right and wrong and had the guts to stay away from it? Things have gone irreversibly askew here in India. And what’s more frustrating is, trying to talk to the previous generation about situations like this.

Those were the times when even having a boyfriend or girlfriend was the ultimate taboo.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to preach that the Western World is bad – many things are good. Because of westernization, India is becoming more eco-friendly, schools and colleges are not just focusing on academics but extra-curricular activities as well. This helps build the child overall. Furthermore now here in India, it is encouraged for rape victims to approach the police and identify their assaulter(s) – the whole concept of it bringing the family name down has started to change. Because of westernization,
mental illness and psychiatrists in the medical field are taken more seriously. Children of Down Syndrome and Autism can have the option of going to special schools. India had no idea about mental disorders. They thought if you were depressed, you were crazy. I had petit mal seizures as a child (which I grew out of) but still, I was told not to mention it because people in India may take it the wrong way and say you have a brain disorder. Furthermore, I have a family member who is Autistic and people fail to realize that these kids are highly talented and smart. I was told if I mentioned that he has this condition, they may say that you have it too.However because of westernization people understand much better here in India from before.
In India it is viewed that the main aim of a girl’s life is to get married. You get a job, learn how to cook, learn how to do household chores, you behave well with others and do not get a bad name – why? To get married. Westernization has helped us to believe that we do all these things for us, for us to go on with our lives at ease – not so our marriage takes place without any hassles, albeit, I do agree, it plays a small part. Women are now holding higher positions in the work place, they have proved that you can have a family and have a successful career. Women are choosing when they want to and how many children they should have.
Any person from India can go live abroad and adapt easier compared to a couple of years back and parents now know the importance of talking to their children about pressing topics that weren’t usually ever talked about at home. This is due to the benefits of westernization.
In conclusion, as my father quite rightly said, you have to take the good from everything and leave out all the rest (as one of Linkin Park’s good songs also goes). So take in the fact that the foreigners always say their pleases and thank yous, have good queue manners and say excuse me when they want somebody to move aside instead of pressing your body against the person, in order for them to do so. Leave the rest. Take in the fact that Indians have a strong sense offamily and moral values. Leave whatever is bad, for example dowry and such. One should opt for the middle path. And as we all know from the famous Hannah Montana theme song, it really is good ‘to have the best of both worlds’.

-Rhea Suzanne John

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