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Need for cultural pride - Revival
Rizwan Salim
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: September 20, 1998

India's social problem--rampant corruption to exploding population--can disappear and the nation can become great almost overnight if most Indians, especially the people on top in every domain of activity, are made to undergo just one mental transformation: Acquiring intense cultural pride. Yes, vigorous cultural pride has the power to create great individuals and great nations. Intense and well-informed cultural pride can be a very strong force animating ancient historical civilisations such as India. A people, if intoxicated enough with arrogant pride in
their history and culture, can go on to achieve greater glory. The Japanese and the Chinese, the French and the Germans possess
a surfeit of cultural pride-and a sense of cultural superiority. Consider their achievements over the centuries and in recent decades.

Given the reality that Hindustan is the longest surviving ancient civilisation and Hindus have to their credit so many unccountable and such astonishing achievements of architecture and painting. music and dance, poetry and drama. epics and narratives, intellectual systems and philosophical doctrines, healing systems and mind-body disciplines, Hindus of every caste and class today should have possessed a well-informed and well-developed, intense and, fully conscious cultural pride. But one of the principal tragedies of contemporary India is that the majority of even the educated and otherwise affluent Hindus do not possess a deep and extensive knowledge of their culture-and do not give evidence of an intensely felt cultural pride.

From the earliest surviving Gupta period temples of the fifth century to the grand Moghul monuments and Rajput palaces, Hindustan has more than a thousand year old tradition of stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiring architecture. Yet so lacking in cultural pride have Indian architects been, that after 1950 they eagerly adopted the European Leftwing architects' Bauhaus style, the architecture of ugly concrete boxes. Now they
slavishly follow the currently fashionable West "Post-Modern" style that developed out of the Bauhaus. There has been no authentic Indian architecture now, structures replicating shapes and forms, motifs and decorative elements of ancient Hindu temple and Moghul and Rajput palace art.

India's English as well as regional language novel writers who grew to literary maturity after 1950, had they absorbed the Hindustani cultural tradition in depth and were ambitious for their talent could have written authentic Indian novels that would have been ranked, in time, with the best and most enduring of the British and American, German and Russian fiction-so overwhelmingly varied is India's human reality and so much
potential has Indian life for engendering great novels.

Mentally crippled by their own feelings of cultural inferiority, India's novel writers (in English mainly but also in the regional languages) slavishly follow the Leftist-invented style of writing and themes of the contemporary Anglo-American fiction writing, the most degenerate school in the history of European letters. Western Leftists favour novels with amoral, inhuman and anti-heroic themes expressed in ungrammatical and fractured language. Beautiful prose is repugnant to ideological Leftists.

So complete is the alienation of India's English language fiction writers from their own culture, they seem incapable of creating emotionally satisfying and deeply pleasurable novels. They write fiction to please influential Leftwing book critics in England and America, not those with good literary tastes at home and abroad. There is nothing genuinely Indian in so many of these "Made for Export" novels.

Lacking profound cultural knowledge and intense cultural pride, India's intellectuals regard the fashionable ideas and ideologies >from Europe and America as unquestionably superior to Bharat's thousands of years old Hindu culture and wisdom. Following the West's dictates in domains ranging from polity to economics, jurisprudence to genetics policy, India's intellectuals do not bother to find out if there might not be ideas and insights in ancient Hindu philosophy, intellectual systems and texts better than the West's. Why must we always let some American or German
argue, for example, that the Mahabharata is as good a guide for a modem business manager and a politician as compared to an ancient
Hindu king? There is no authentic Indian response to the intellectual questions and moral dilemmas of the modem world. There is no genuinely Indian view of world events and trends today. India's politicians in power over the years evidently have never felt a surge of cultural pride to create university programmes and institutions where Bharat's culture, texts and tradition can be rigorously and exhaustively studied to the highest international academic standards. Hindustan does not have enough institutions for the scholarly study of Hindu culture. The
institutions that do exist are not of the first rank because they were never generously funded (by government or philanthropists)
to do excellent work. There are not very many scholars of high ability and international reputation in India today who illuminate Hindu culture and Hindus' past great accomplishments. It is an embarrassing truth that the best Indologists are found in the Netherlands and Sweden, Germany and France, Japan and Italy-not in Delhi and Ujjain, Varanasi and Puri, Madurai and

India's big city universities do have resident scholars doing dedicated research in humanities. Instead of educating us - and the world-about the profundity and the originality of Hindu thought, and the imaginative power of Hindu arts, they prefer to research with great seriousness works of second rate intellectual system builders and third rate writers and poets of Europe and America.

An intense cultural pride follows from an intense cultural consciousness: A powerful attraction to one's own culture and cultural practices. An intense cultural consciousness is not evident in most

Indian men and women Performances of India's classical dances and drama, instrumental and vocal music are not as widely held or well-attended as would have happened had a strong interest in the nation's refined culture of temples and royal courts existed among most Indians. Cultural pride also means guarding against any loss of the culture's vitality. A number of energetic and powerfully affecting village and tribal folk art forms, including festivals and rituals, customs and ceremonies, dances and drama, music, and songs, jatras and trance induction techniques are on the verge of extinction (or have vanished already) from all over the country. There is no extensive and focused national effort to prevent the disappearance of the very vital folk tradition of Hindustan.

Indian society very urgently needs a class of brilliant culture leaders: Men and women who possess a deep knowledge of Hindu culture and the subcontinent's history; who have insights into what is imaginative and profound, what is worth preserving in our culture. These self-chosen culture leaders should go around the country, giving lucid but forceful orations, educating the people about the great qualities of their culture and creating a robust cultural consciousness in the majority.




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