There is a difference in being western and being modern – most people don’t understand the difference.
Did you know that being western and being modern were to different things? Formal education in sociology and history teaches us that there are different processes of change. Out of these processes, two are westernisation and modernisation. More than 90% of the people think that being western means being modern and vice versa. It is not true.
To be western, is to adapt to a western lifestyle. If someone wears western clothes, lives the western lifestyle, the person is called western. But the mere act of donning jeans doesn’t make you a modern person. If you are a man listening to American music and in love with Hollywood movies it does not make you broad-minded. Similarly, wearing a saree doesn’t make a woman narrow-minded.
The biggest problem today is the fact that the mere act of imitating western culture is assumed to be an act of being ‘forward’, being ‘broad-minded’ and being ‘open’. Another assumption is that all those who want to live a western lifestyle, are shameless while all those who live an Indian lifestyle are not. That’s complete bullshit.
People who prefer wearing eastern clothes and live an eastern lifestyle can be as shameless as those wearing western. Secondly, being modern does not mean being shameless. Shamelessness has nothing to do with either of the two.
To make it clear, modernisation is the process of broadening your mind and driving away from superstition. It means to make liberal choices and to understand that rigidity has no place in the world. While being western simply means to imitate the western lifestyle. A woman wearing a one-piece can still think that touching things and people during menstruation is ‘bad’. That woman, donning western attire is not modern.
To give more examples, a 64 year old man wearing a dhoti is not western yet his not objecting to his daughter marrying for love is modern. An illiterate woman who has never read a book in her life is not western yet wanting a girl as her baby in spite of all social pressure is modern. A village man who has never learnt English, wanting to educate himself and adopt innovative farming technologies is not western yet is modern.
On the other hand, a 21 year old woman living in a metropolis, wearing a short skirt and make-up is not modern when she thinks that women should not work, she is merely western. A 30 year old sophisticated, suit-clad married man from a city is western yet his act of disallowing his wife to work is not modern.
Social evils are rampant even in the west. A western lifestyle is not necessarily modern. A modern lifestyle is not necessarily western. This is one difference that needs to be understood before we judge people on their appearances.
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