Mass media has proved to be an immense boon to most people in the world, especially developing countries such as our own. It has not only provided us with information on every topic we could ever think of, but has also helped us advance in our daily lifestyle.
The development of technology has significantly made the work load lighter. It has also helped many start off new businesses, as entrepreneurs. In short, it has been tremendously helpful to almost everyone who it is accessible to.
However, mass media has also proved to be a bane in some aspects. It has invaded our culture, and diverted our minds to several other factors. This culture invasion is proving to be very dangerous, especially for us Indians.
What is Culture?
Culture is the social and behavioural rules and norms found in human society. It encompasses the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. It includes the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group.
It is basically the characteristic features of everyday existence, such as diversions, shared by people in a particular place or time.
A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
Culture is a symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group’s skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions.
India’s Rich Culture
India is very much famous for its rich and varied culture and heritage. Our cultural heritage in itself is a great evidence of our traditions and customs. India has a special diversified culture, which is unique in the world. We still maintain the unity, the unity of being Indians with our diversified culture.
We have varied type of traditions, linguists, customs, caste, creed etc. And most importantly, every culture is equally good and important in the eyes of Indians. We accept everyone and everything with a joyful heart. At least, that is what our culture teaches us to do.
The culture of India refers collectively to the thousands of distinct and unique cultures of all religions and communities present in India. India’s languages, religions, dance, music, architecture, food and customs differ from place to place within the country.
The most interesting one of all our customs and traditions is probably our method of greeting.
We fold our hands together, just in front of our chest, bow our heads down slightly and say, “Namaste”. But, what’s the significance? The Namaste, or namaskar, or ‘namaskaara’ is one of the five forms of traditional greetings mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas.
It literally translates to ‘I bow to you’, and greeting one another with it is a way of saying ‘May our minds meet’, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The word namaha can also be translated as ‘na ma’ (not mine), to signify the reductions of one’s ego in the presence of the other.
And our traditions are not just restricted to Indians! We’ve seen Barack Obama use it on various occasions, or the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon greeting everyone on the International Yoga Day.
This is so interesting, and it is not even one percent of our entire culture. How then can we let all of our customs and traditions simply slide away?
We, as Indians, try our best to pay an equal status and respect to every tradition. This is one of the reason why we have paved way to the westernisation. We have adapted and incorporated the western culture into our own traditions, and the same is good and beneficial as far as we follow the good values and trends.
For example, in 1829, the banning of Sati was considered extremely hazardous to our culture, as that was a practice followed everywhere and even considered to be holy. But now, when we look back, we can see how wrong we were, and how the act of banning it, by Lord William Bentinck, has benefited our culture.
But, the problem arises when westernisation is considered and leads towards the negativity and bad traits and when the values it teaches are just blindly followed. Values which are sometimes totally opposite to our traditions. Here are some of the aspects wherein our culture is being degraded due to the upcoming mass media.
The Greeting Style
Let us begin with our “Namaste” which we have just spoken about. In the India of today, people rarely bow their heads and greet one another in that style, unless it is a special occasion. We usually simply shake hands, or nod, or mutter a hostile “hello”.
This is an influence of the English movies we watch for hours together. The maximum greeting we can get from a youth of India these days is for them to remove an earphone from their ear and nod when someone enters the room. Where has our deep rooted respect and tradition gone?
Indian food and cuisine not only forms an integral part of Indian culture but is also one of the key factors of India’s popularity worldwide. The style of cooking varies from region to region, though unanimously, Indian food has a major reputation for its extensive use of spices and herbs.
However, as of late, more and more Indians are getting into the habit of eating fast food and the international cuisines. As far as they are concerned, eating international edibles is a status symbol rather than a delicacy.
Media has always popularised this type of junk food, and portrayed all its advantages though advertisements or through influencing promoters. Because of this, India is slowly losing her delicious food and cuisine.
The Dances and Entertainment
The dances of India are famous all over the world, especially ‘bharatnatyam’, and ‘kathakali’. And for entertainment purposes, families and societies would come together to see these performances or may watch theatre arts. But the cinema has replaced all of those.
In addition, we also have YouTube, and as of the year 2019, Indians have surpassed even the Americans to become the highest percent of YouTube watchers. The folk dance and theatre (Ram Leela and Nautanki) has been taken over by Bollywood and TV serials.
Folk music and dance are a very integral part of our varied culture and it seems that it’s a lost cause now. Performing arts are on the verge of disappearance.
The Clothing Style
The Indian attires have lost their value. Males prefer to wear the suits, even in the hot summers just to imitate foreign cultures. Females have flown along with the western culture and Indian dresses have lost their moral and value. Indian female attires have a dignified outlook, which is hardly seen today.
The beautiful sarees, kurtas, sharalis and lehengas are no longer sported by Indians. Rather more, tourists who visit India occasionally wear these outfits. Even the traditional Indian outfits have been re-designed with a westernised touch to the same.
The Westernised Brands such as H&M, Raymond’s and so on are dominating the advertisements as well as the film industry and hence influencing Indian youth too.
India, being such a diverse country, celebrates her unity in diversity. There are more than 720 dialects, 22 major regional languages, with 13 different scripts. The national language of India is Hindi. However, for the present generation of Indians today, learning our mother-tongue is considered a shameful act.
Not only the adults, but even the kids hold their conversations in English. People prefer to send their kids to convent schools to have a better English fluency. Even if we keep aside reading and writing our regional languages, many Indians don’t even know to speak their mother-tongue.
India has always believed in living in joint families. However, the family morals and marriage values have lost their importance. The youth is more influenced by the world of television and Internet. They are more interested in western culture. The new relationship styles would have scandalised our ancestors, and do indeed shock our elders even now.
The media has done everything possible to encourage this new style of living. The material found on the dark web is also quite shocking, and there is no one to restrict the youth from entering that world.
Because of all these factors, along with several more, mass media has caused an immense cultural invasion.
The loss of our culture is more important than any other loss for us Indians. We will lose our pride and dignity on the International stand with the loss of our moral values.
Mass media is of great importance in the present era. The media has become a method of bragging rather than a requirement. People have become dependent on the media for each and every basic need of their life. It spoon feeds them everything on a silver platter.
People have folded the world into their pockets in the form of mobile internet. No one is spared from the trap of the media. Life is slowly becoming impossible without it.
Although, the television and mass communication media have acted as a bridge, linking the masses with the latest news, trends and information, it has also disintegrated the social and cultural structures. Many aspects have been sacrificed with the arrival of the new ways of communication and information.
The interaction between the media and people is impacting the diverse culture on our nation. But now it is up to us. Should we use the media to forget our culture? Or use it to make our culture even stronger?