Do we have anything called the Indian culture? Is it the responsibility of the government to preserve and protect our culture?
The preamble to the Constitution of India read: ?We the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.?
Needless to say that the constitution of a nation is primarily a political document which reflects the social, economic and political aspirations of the people. However, the soul of a nation is in its culture. If the individual and the people are essential constituents of a nation state, it is the culture which makes these individuals think, speak and conduct themselves the way they do. A person with a feudal background, with a lack of sensitivity to social justice, can hardly do honour if he is called upon to preside over such an institution.
I feel, our Constitution makers should have taken into consideration the importance of thousands of years of our cultural tradition which survives this culturally distinct country called India (Bharata). One expected the most sacred document of Independent India should have embodied/reflected the soul of its people in some form. The preamble should have at least recognised the vast cultural diversity of ?we the people? in an explicit manner and guaranteed to us the liberty of ?cultural identity?.
Article 29 of the Constitution refers to cultural and educational rights rather sketchily (under ?protection of interests of minorities?), which is primarily to ensure protection to minority rights and to promote secularism.
Indian culture is a synthesis of cultures of our various language-speaking regions and the people. The cultural identity of these people and their ethos find expression through literature, art, craft, food, costume and social institutions. Needless to emphasise that the economic status of an individual or a society has tremendous bearing on all these aspects. The people with reasonable economic freedom and living in their traditional habitat and milieu have a more vibrant cultural life than those migrating to a different location, particularly outside their cultural boundary.
In a society with wide economic disparity, a sizeable section of our population is constantly on the move in search of economic prosperity. This section, invariably under pressure of adjusting to a new life, is forced to sacrifice a part of its cultural identity while desperately trying to preserve the native flavour.
Even otherwise there is a tremendous strain on our regional cultures in the midst of developmental activities to build new India. The social and cultural life of rural India, where our cultures breath and live, is undergoing a sea change. The rate of degradation is almost proportionate to the environmental degradation.
To use a more contemporary expression: As the BSE Sensex soars the culture declines.
?Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.? If we go by a plain reading of the Article 29(1), there appears to be a constitutional provision to conserve one'slanguage and culture. However, it is not clear as to what extent this right is enforceable vis-?-vis the responsibility of the government.
In any case, the government(s) must ponder over and focus on how to preserve this invaluable wealth of the Republic, without which India shall not remain India, i.e. Bharata.
(The writer can be contacted at e-mail: [email protected])