How to preserve Indian Culture
Posted 15 August 2016
On India's 70th independence day, let's put the spotlight on our ancient heritage. Towards this end, the state must recognise the role of media in disseminating and promoting, if not generating, cultural knowledge
Dance moves of the Roma Gypsy from Rajasthan to Spain; stories from the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata on the temples and palaces of Angkorvat, Cambodia; evidence of Indian painting techniques at the Bamiyan in Afghanistan and Miran and Domko in Central Asia depicting both the Buddha and Hindu deities like Shiva, Ganesha and Surya... Similarly, the influence of the Western drama and One Act plays on Indian literature; the imitations of the English sonnet, Ode, and Blank verse by famous Indian poets; the impact of European, Chinese and South-east paintings in India during the rule of the great Mughal king Akbar...
These are just a few examples that connect the cultures of the East and the West. Information is key and literacy is fundamental. And, media is what binds the two. Media Information Literacy (MIL), therefore, becomes crucial to promote our ancient local traditions, culture and heritage.
On its 70th Independence Day, India must understand what MIL means and how it can act as a catalyst in promoting local culture and traditions. India, with its culture, is unique and as the world's oldest civilisation dates back to nearly 5000 years ago. Today with over 1.2 billion population, India has a diverse cultural heritage and has greatly influenced the world through Indian religions, practices, philosophy and local traditions. The Pan-Indian saree , for example, has gone global and the bindi on the forehead is slowly catching up in the West.
But, has anyone ever thought why this trend is happening? The accessories were always there; the saree was always Indian; so, what made the difference now? The answer is simple - More information, awareness and literacy.
Nearly 25 years ago the World Wide Web was born. Ease of information access influenced all generations. While this criss-cross of arts and interest is intriguing, people of different nations are recognised by their culture and should be proud of their impressive traditions.
India has always been famous for its traditions and hospitality. The flexibility and adaptability in its culture has made it unique and famous through customs such as the 'Namaste' (greeting with folded hands), exchange of flower garlands in wedding ceremonies which are still considered as an occcassion when not just two individuals but their entire families are united, the offering of flowers to their deity during religious ceremonies.
Each of India's 29 States have their own language, religion, dance, music, architecture, food, and customs which differ from place to place within the country. Each element has its own impact and circle of influence, and thus leveraging through media becomes crucial.
Media can lead to an evolution and revolution of the mind and heart of the people fostering information, literacy and awareness in the nation. Broadly speaking, the relationship between culture and the media is one of inclusion.
For example, the tribal people in Purulia district of West Bengal in eastern India have a rich heritage of folk dance, drama and music. In an effort to revive their folk art as a means of sustainable livelihood, the artists have formed Self Help groups and linked themselves to banks for support under micro finance programmes.
Inter-cultural dialogue is also critical. It helps to contributes to one's sense of community both in the host and home countries, regardless of boundaries and geographies. Instant connect through pictures, videos often helps bring to life and revive cultures across the seas. Films, television and radio broadcasts are other powerful means that can influence culture. Most often the sensitive eye of the television camera can travel over the length and breadth of the country into the most remote villages and unearth the traditional practices and celebrations and present them forcefully and creatively to the entire people.
Promotion of people as cultural brand ambassadors, building influence through the local vernacular media, an improved media strategy that promotes cultural content and supports cultural projects with less or no commercial value can also help preserve and promote culture. The list is not exhaustive but it is important to bear in mind to optimally use what is available rather than what can be made available.
It is imperative to realise that the culture of any society is important because that is what differentiates one society from the other, and media has the power to affect our relationship with the world and have a transformative impact on culture and the society at large. It is here that the Government policy also plays a very crucial role vis-a-vis the media. The state must recognise the latter's role in disseminating, if not generating cultural knowledge and a promoting cultural discourse. Without the media's positive role in helping to promote culture, chances of its degeneration are high.
Disclaimer: The blog represents the views and opinions of the author. IPE CKD does not take responsibility for the views expressed in the blog