Emerging India: Trapped Between Development and Culture

Emerging India: Trapped Between Development and Culture

We talk so much about digitalizing almost everything. We talk of digital India. What does it actually mean? In what way is it useful? How is it going to help the mankind? Will it make a better human being of a person? Will it teach the values, ethoes and morality? Without an internal transformation in a person, do you really think all these external ornamental changes will bring in changes in the society and will make us better and the society a better place to live? What is development? Is living in an apartment instead of a hut, the true meaning of development? Is googling for information, instead of trying to find it in a book, the true sense of development?

What is culture?  Have we ever thought, can being culturally strong, help us develop?

All these questions open up a huge debate, there can only be opinions but not a concrete answer.

Culture is the way of living our day to day life. Culture is about our food, clothing etc. Culture is about how we think and conceive our thoughts. Culture is about how we put our thoughts into actions. Culture is about our beliefs. Culture is about our values. Culture is what the parents teach the young ones even before they start going to schools. Culture is in all those activities where the pride of our society is reflected. Culture is what makes us more humane.

Sadly, off late, religious beliefs and activities, music, dance, literature are alone treated as the preservers of our culture. On one hand among the forward classes in India, people are treated as outdated, if they are inclined to these arts. On another hand, among the NRI community, they find these arts to be the only link for the children to not forget their homeland and the culture. So they insist the children to learn these arts.

All of us know, if a person loses his control in a given situation and screams and shouts and behaves unruly, we immediately say, oh! He is uncultured. At the same time, if a person is able to have a control over the situation and deals with it with a balanced mind and is still able to behave humanly, we immediately say—oh! He comes from a very cultured family. That means, its not wrong to say that culture has a lot with a person’s behavior and mannerisms. This calls for a great responsibility. And this responsibility of culture has been assigned to the fine arts of India, like—music, dance, poetry. That’s why they have been called cultural aspects. The culture that these arts teach, no science, maths, civics or computer sciences can teach. That’s why schools have a separate cultural wing. That’s why the parents send their children to learn some art after the school hours. These arts don’t just enhance the creativity of the child but also makes them think by themselves. Such is the responsibility of the fine arts of India.

In a nutshell we can say, according to Natyashastra—music, nritya (dance) and literature, put together is ‘Natya’ ( Indian dramaturgy). Such is the greatness of our Natya and such is the responsibility of the Natya.  Sage Bharata says:

Natya was brought to earth from the gods, so that the society can be put to discipline, so that there can be recreation to the people, so that the frustrated and tired minds don’t indulge into malpractices, so that- even if there are any misdeeds—the society can correct it with the help of natya itself.

But today, are we giving enough importance to such great way of learning? Are we as citizens and the government doing enough to preserve and propagate such great art? Are the practitioners of this art doing their job sincerely? Do they feel the responsibility on their shoulders? Are they doing their share towards their society? Are they not always indulged in trying to make more and more money and name and get more and more awards by whatever means?

There’s no lack of number of trained dancers, there’s no lack of talent, hard work and commitment in them. We have performers ranging from 80yrs of age to 8 yrs. There are ample number of teachers and students. What is lacking is the right outlook. There has always been a lot of glamour associated with dancers and movie actors, probably because these are the visual mode of entertainment. But even dancers and actors are human beings. They eat the same food that others eat. So why should there be a glamour quotient? And if there is a glamour quotient, why not use it to reach out better ideas to more number of audiences.

If every dance teacher thinks that they need to bring out a better person in every student, instead of just a better performer who would in turn bring more money and fame to the teacher, the dance world would be much better place to work. Instead of dirty politics, rat race and jealousies, there would be more harmony and better creativity.

Not necessary that every child who learns to dance would eventually be a performer, he/she can even choose a different profession. But dance is a discipline which he/she would carry throughout their life. This way these students would create a positive and healthy atmosphere wherever they go. The society slowly would get a better place to live with more cultured people. After all, all of us want to live in peace and harmony. What could be a better luxury than a healthy sumptuous food, a mind with no worries and a peaceful night sleep, after a daylong of hard work. No money, no development can ever give a healthy body and a healthy mind.

So instead of looking towards the west and the setting sun, wake up in the morning and look at the rising sun. Try to get the energy and health from the ‘surya bhagavan’, Do Yoga, specially ‘Surya Namaskaram’. Look up into the sky where we wish to reach, look down into the roots—from where  we and our society began, stretch your body to try and reach your goals, breathe deeply to relax your body and mind. Be thoughtful, start your day when prepared. Do a good deed every day. Feel proud about your goodness and humanness. In distress, take refuge in the divine and the cultural aspects. Encourage the fine arts by either practice or by relishing them. Help a better and healthy future generation.

This according to me is a better development to begin with, only then can come any other form of development. Cultural development forms the base to hold any other form of development. In a construction if the basement is not strong, the building will very soon collapse. If the government or the citizens want to build a strong and developed society, the Culture has to be specially focused and developed first. Without which, our dream of India will always remain a dream and will never come true.

Padmavani Mosalikanti,  Asst. Director ‘Shivamohanam’ trust (regd), Chennai 


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