Sunday, July 21, 2024

Modernity in the Indian way

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Modernity in the Indian way is essential to harmonize the values and norms, both of modern as well as traditional 

In the intellectual circles of India, a great debate is underway.

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That debate is Modernity v/s tradition. It is about inculcating the values that modernization brings in the social, political and cultural milieus of a country.

It must be noted that modernity is a complex phenomenon that has a number of layers, most notably the social and cultural layers.

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In that context, it is necessary to understand both modernity and tradition.


It is a social phenomenon that emphasises on the need to develop a modern or latest outlook in life.

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Modernity is an outcome of modernization.

Modernization is the expression of how by various social, cultural, political and economic measures a society is able to further develop itself.

Many social scientists, especially those hailing from the West compare modernization with westernization.

In that context, westernization denotes development and growth of a society, its institutions and other associated dimensions in a western way.

Modernization in the Western way manifests itself in cultural, economic and political domains.

Culturally it means developing a scientific and rationalistic outlook in life.

This requires adopting a skeptical attitude to everything, most importantly religion.

The French idea of secularism, called ‘laicite’ is an outcome of such modernization. Economically and politically it denotes adopting the capitalist model of development, perhaps its most proper manifestation is seen in the neo-liberal model of economics.

Politically, it means adopting democratic principles, modeled on the West.

A critical area of modernity is the idea of the individual.

This means-I, me and myself. I, as an individual have a sacred personality and the state exists only to satisfy the rights of the individual.

While this is the laissez-faire idea of a society, a communitarian perception articulates that the individual is a part of the society and the state needs to look after the society, albeit with limited powers.


It denotes the need to accord primacy to traditions.

It means holding on to traditions i.e. rituals, customs and values that define the foundation of a society.

By that yardstick, countries like India, Israel have a large section of their populations with traditional beliefs.

Tradition, interestingly, holds a romanticised notion of clinging on to a past that is glorious and is full of achievement.

Indian Way of Modernity

India is changing, there were two defining moments in our post-colonial economic history as far as modernity is concerned- 1991 and 2014.

In cultural history it is-1992 and 2019.

However, being one of the oldest civilizations in the world what is required for India is this- a judicious blend of modernity and tradition.

Modernity must be in the Indian way-it must reject the promiscuous and debauch social values of the West but embrace the political and economic values.

Similarly, in the name of tradition there is no need for reviving reactionary practices of old times.

Instead adopt a rationalist mindset and Modernity in the Indian way.

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