The sociological concept of westernization in India

M.N Srinivas (1962)  pioneer of sociology in India has  used the term ‘westernisation’ to indicate the change, which took place in India during the British rule in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.Westernisation implies changes in dress, style of eating, manners etc. The change in the medium of instruction. Westernisation started having its impact on the elite because they studied secular subjects with English as medium of instruction.The Brahmins and other castes with tradition of learning and traditions of science in the courts readily took to secular education with English as a medium of education. Another big change introduced in the Indian society by the new system of education is that the schools were thrown open all types in contrast to the traditional schools which were restricted to upper-caste children and which transmitted mostly traditional knowledge.In as much as modernisation in India has come about due to westernisation, therefore, the above-mentioned changes of Modernisation can be taken to be result of westernisation.

The following are the characteristics of westernisation,

 

(1) Morally neutral : Modernisation is generally considered to be good  but this is not so with westernisation. Westernisation has been for good as well as evil. In fact westernisation in normally neutral.

 

(2) Limits of Westernisation: A distinction has to be drawn between westernisation and western culture. All the elements of the western culture didn’t originate in the west for example, Christianity originated in Asia, the decimals system originated in India and via Arabia reached west. Gun powder, printing press and paper were invented in China. All these constitute the important elements of western culture though these didn’t originate in the west. The manner in which westernisation operates in India is mainly the result of British influence. The culture of Germany, France and Russia etc is quite different from the British culture.

 

(3)Wide, complex and multi level concept: It substances all changes which are consequent upon western technology and modern science. Secondly it has had varying impact upon the different aspect of the culture, hence it is a complex concept. Thirdly westernisations have affected society at different levels.

 

For example in olden days people used to eating it in thalis or banana leaves in squatting position but now they are using dining table with all its accessaries. While westernisation has had very wide impact, there has been resistance to it in some sequences. Thus westernisation has had variable impact on the Indian society.

 

(4)Conscious unconscious process:  Westernisation has not been incorporated willingly everywhere in India at some places the copying of British manners and customs was deliberate at other places it was a subconscious process.