Cultural genocide?

Published on India Seminar.com, by KRISHEN KAK, not dated.

An short excerpt of a long text:

… The West scientifically searches for truth, exteriorly, through exploring the worlds outside us. Its confidence is unbounded, even presumptuous. Its rockets soar into the skies, conquering new frontiers; yet their afterblast burns away the spiritual core of that civilisation, leaving a hollow that no amount of luxurious living fills. The West increasingly turns to the East for the spirit – and we too are sending rockets up and away! In the afterblast burn our artisans, farmers, traditional technologists and all those whose lives are tuned into the rhythms of Mother Nature and Mother Earth.

Is this good or bad, right or wrong – who is to say?

We acknowledge the breakdown of the traditional jajmani system. The new customers for handskills are increasingly those whose worldly wants are readily met by industrially-produced goods. The ennui of satiable desire then is sought to be overcome not by advertising the mundanity of an object, but by imbuing it with supra-physical symbolism.

Thus, as a modern teenage male in India, I drink celebrity-endorsed fizzy sugared water not because I am thirsty for this healthful drink, but because by drinking it I hope to be identified as being ‘swinging’ and ‘with it’. Or, as a modern teenage female, I wear skin-tight jeans with brand name boots not because they are comfortable in our sweaty climate but because by such clothing I hope to be recognised as ‘cool’.

Our pepsification in American jargon is called ‘visionary selling’ – creating and selling dreams and visions. Copywriters and celebrities have been profitably quick to realise that the new affluent customer needs not an object but a meaning, and the cultural (and colonial) meta-meaning dominant in India remains ‘West is best’. Even though handcrafting traditions are rich in layered meanings, who is to be the copywriter for artisans? And how many artisans can afford to advertise? … (full long text).

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