Westernization

According to M N Srinivas “westernization refers to the changes brought about in Indian society and culture as a result of over 150 years of British rule and the term subsumes changes occurring at different levels of technology, institutions, ideology, values”.

Main features of westernization:

Westernization is a simpler concept. It explains the impact of Western contact (particularly of British rule) on the Indian society and culture. M N Srinivas defends the use of the term when he says that there is need for such as when analysing the changes that a non western country undergoes as a result of prolonged contact with the western one.

It not only includes the introduction of new institutions (for example newspaper, elections, Christian Missionaries) but also fundamental changes in old Institutions. For example, India had schools long before the arrival of the British, but they were different from British introduced schools in that they had been restricted to upper caste children and transmitted mostly traditional knowledge. Other institutions such as the Army, civil service and law courts were also similarly affected.

The form and pace of westernization of India varied from region to region and from one section of population to another. For example one group of people became Westernized in dress, manners, speech while other absorbed Western science, knowledge and literature remaining relatively free from certain aspects. For example brahmins accepted the western dress habits and educational systems and also used gadgets such as radio, television, telephone but they did not accept the British diet, dancing, hunting and such other habits. This distinction is however only relative, not absolute.

According to M N Srinivas in the political and cultural field westernisation has given birth not only to nationalism but also to revivalism, communalism, casteism and heightened  linguistic consciousness and regionalism. To make matters even more bewildering revivalist movements have used Western type schools and colleges and books, pamphlets and journals to propagate their ideas .

The term westernisation, unlike modernisation, is ethically neutral, its use does not carry the implication that it is good or bad where modernisation is normally used in the sense that it is good, according to M N Srinivas.