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Saturday, March 8, 2014

India's problem, Indian's problem

Page 141of ‘Becoming Indian’ by Pavan K. Varma
“When people are the subjects of their own culture, their creative expression has self –assuredness and spontaneity, so they create a unique and effective language of communication even when the grammar is imperfect. This is because the idiom is authentic. But when people become objects of a foreign culture, a huge transformation takes place. Suddenly, a creative work is judged not for its intrinsic value, or for the heritage it is sourced from or is a part of, but for the degree to which it is comprehensible and conforms to the outsider’s culture. The process is all the more mutilating if the outsider belongs to the dominant political or military power of the time [or a putrefied political ideology-italics mine], and there is necessary prejudice, condescension and prurience in his gaze. When this happens, spontaneity reduces itself to self –conscious mediocrity; creativity seeks to qualify itself [to some irrelevant yard stick]; authenticity gives way to imitation; self –assurance is replaced by denial. An entire culture attempts to reinterpret itself in terms that will somehow win the dominant outsider’s approval. The ‘objectified’ people then thrive only as exotica; their historic role becomes that of the observed; everything external about them –and nothing of intrinsic value-is collated, classified and investigated. They finally end up as caricatures, divorced from their own cultural milieu and perpetually alien-in spite of their best efforts at emulation-to that of the outsider.” [What is more pathetic is the hitherto insiders getting converted into outsiders causing chaos]
Please note: All things written in this quote in brackets and in italics are mine.

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