Louis Althusser put it ? ?Ideology… is indispensable in any society if men are to be formed, transformed and equipped to respond to the demands of their conditions of existence.? The demands of our conditions of existence have undergone tremendous changes over the last few years. India today is facing challenges like never before. Changed and evolved, it always has. But the irrepressible pace at which paradigms are shifting in all spheres of life and work, is a challenge hitherto never faced by Indian society. The occasion calls for serious introspection and auto-correction.
The most critical influences on Indian society have been that of Globalisation and Communication Revolution that have reduced the world to a global village. The Sarpanch of this village sitting in Washington or New York sets the rule of the game. Indian youth is increasingly fascinated by western ideas and life-style. Moving to US has become the propelling force of any aspiring student. Indian middle-class is attempting to climb up the ladder of social pyramid by imitating and adopting the West. Somewhere we are found missing on our national pride?our abundant national self-respect.
Our reaction has been along expected lines. Hindu ideologues increasingly play the role of ?cultural-protectionists?. Westernisation is denounced as a threat to Bharatiya culture. Without going into the merits of it, I would like to evoke a few thoughts. Even if presuming that Westernisation is a malice, are we attacking the root-cause of the disease by decrying it ? Or are we merely attacking the carrier of this disease? Or are we merely attacking merely its symptoms?
I strongly feel that at the root of this susceptibility to western allurement is the failure of the Indian state to mould a National Character and a distinct identity, with contemporary relevance, with which one can identify and feel proud. Particularly the ever-burgeoning Indian youth finds it difficult to come to terms with it. Primarily, India as a State has disappointed and failed to do justice to India as a Nation. And the reason for this is the stark dichotomy and glaring contradictions between Indian ideals and Indian practices. We hardly practice what we loudly preach.
I feel that an exceedingly ritualistic cultural milieu has reduced Indian society to a superficially symbolistic society ? where ?signs? and ?symbols? have pushed the ?significators? and ?symbolators? to the backstage. A society where the ?container? has been taken for the ?contained??where the ?carrier? has been taken for the ?carried?? and the ?peel? for the ?pith?. Hinduism as it was practiced has been over the ages often in irreconcilable variance with Hinduism as it was preached. The degeneration of Indian psyche is a psychological manifestation of the dichotomy between spiritual Hinduism and ritualistic Hinduism. The study of this malice would be a fit topic in semiotics or semiology, as much as sociology or political science.
We have to come out of this auto-suggestive hypocritical symbolism. One can'tfill his stomach my symbolic feasting. One can'timpart knowledge through symbolic teaching. And one can'tcreate an offspring through symbolic procreation. There are two dimensions of corrective reformation. Firstly we should do whatever we do with Conviction ? not merely because ?somebody said it had to be done?. Character emerges out of this conviction. Secondly we should do whatever we do with Credibility ? not just with a ?semblance of what we intended to do?. Credibility when established consistently raises the Character to a higher pedestal.
Almost every institution of this nation has been reduced to its poor semblance. The presumptions of representation of people, free and fair elections, rule of law, equality before enforcement of law, impartial media, impersonal bureaucracy? are all poor semblances of what we idealized. It would be more appropriate in calling it a farcical game, where the players and viewers both know that the game is farcical and yet claim legitimacy and authenticity. My intention is not just to find fault and ridicule, but to set the stage for corrective interventions.
(To be continued)
(The writer is a social thinker and activist and can be contacted at [email protected])