Beware of Copying Other's Culture

By Awdhesh Singh

The modern world is rightly called as a global village. The internet and the satellite televisions have made the national boundaries redundant. People of any part of the world can communicate with the people of any other part of the world as simply a and easily as with a person sitting in the next room. The word “Netizens” represents the citizens of the world, who do not belong to any particular country as he is part of the entire (virtual) world. The satellite televisions are also beaming the programs and news from all part of the world right in the bedroom of a common citizen of a developing country as simply as those of the developed world. The world is truly becoming flat and small.

Thus even without being in the foreign land, people are able to see the world that lies outside their country. They are able to see the prosperity, poverty, culture, roads, building, and markets of other countries. They can see the prices of the products and services offered by the foreign companies and people and can’t help comparing it from their own country.

Why can’t we like them?
When we see the culture of any other land (or society), the first thing which strikes in our mind is what we are missing. We hardly value what we have. For a hungry person, the bread is the most striking thing while for poor, it is the wealth. If the roads of your country (or state) are bad, you can’t help noticing the good roads of a foreign land. The beautiful markets and shopping malls attract the people of a poor country just like a poor lad is attracted toward a beautiful girl.

The question that a man in a poor country may ask, “Why can’t we like them?”

The situation is similar in the developed countries as well. Only the nature of problems is different. The major problem of USA may not be roads, military or money, but they are more troubled by the problem of terrorism, unemployment, broken families, the rise of divorce rates, the phenomenon increase in the number of single mothers, the rise in the crime rates, drug addiction, obesity , alcoholism and decrease in the moral value and ethics. They may wonder how a poor country like India (which is at least 50 times lower per capita income) can have much lower crime rate and so strong family system. The people of India also quite often quote the example of China where the growth is high and crime rates are even lower, the conviction rates are much higher, infrastructure is fast catching up and the society is far more disciplined.
Chinese may envy the freedom of India or the western nation and wish that their government be little more liberal towards freedom.

Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
Each country has its own set of problem whose solution does not look very difficult as we have examples of another country that do not have those problems. So all intellectuals simply take the example of another country and provide readymade solution for all ills. For example, if the corruption is very high in a country, the commonsense solution is that makes the laws more stringent, and let each corrupt person be severely punished. Yet when we try to implement it, it is to be done by the same government officials and judges who are corrupt and inefficient.

The next solution comes, is that privatize everything, so that government officers are no longer in the helm of the affairs. Yet even if the activities of the government are privatized, we find that behaviour of private sector is no different than the government. For example in India, education is mostly in private hands , yet it is difficult to get admission in a good School/college without donations and bribe. Private businesses are purely governed by the profit motives but they are hardly interested in fulfilling heir social obligation which is at the cost of their profit.

When private enterprises break the law, the same public servants (government officials and the politicians) have to take action against the offenders. If they can be easily influenced by the power of money, the private sectors also fail to fulfill the expectation of people.

Then we wish, “only if we have the “right’ politicians to run the country”. But the politicians are elected by the people. The election system is quite fair in many countries. Then why people elect such corrupt politicians?

When you think deeply to the solution of any complex problem, you are likely to come to the dead end very soon when you can’t suggest any more solution. Finally you may end up with a wishful thinking, “Only if the people of this society are like the people of the society that we want to have".

Shortcuts can be Dangerous
However, the wishes are never realized unless we take action to solve the problem. In order to solve the problem, we have to understand the problem and diagnose the disease. It you are fat, the short cut appears to be simple. Just do a surgery and remove the weight at the wrong places. Yet we know that surgery may reduce your weight, but it would cause many problems which are far more acute than the problem of being overweight (it can cost you life also).

Unfortunately, there is no short cut solution in the real world to reduce weight (else every rich person would have been slim). No pill, no diet, no exercise, no yoga, no slimming belt or anything in the world (as promised in the advertisement) can make you slim quickly. Getting into the shape by reducing the weight (or increasing the weight) is a long process which can be done only with great effort and patience.

The society is also like a living organism that seems to have a mind and body of its own created by the synthesis of all the minds and bodies of the members of the society. The members of the society interact with each others, just like most of the cells of the organs interact with each other. The behaviour of each organ of the society is a reflection of the society and also of each other. Each member of the society has some common traits which can be compared with the DNA of the cells of the body. You can’t change one part of the body without affecting all other parts of the body which exists as an organism. Achieving the desired goal is, therefore, a long process involving the gradual change of all organisms of the body.

Take it or Leave It
The positive traits of the society are also the source of the negative traits of the society. Freedom and liberty in the western countries is the source of all inventions of science and technology. Yet the same freedom is also responsible for divorce, crime, addition, obesity and decline in the social value. The authoritarian regime in China is responsible for lack of freedom but also the faster developments and less crime. If Indians are not ambitious enough to produce a single gold medal in Olympic for a billion plus population, the same is responsible for the lower crime rate and family values. You can’t have the best of both worlds. There is no way you can have the positives without having its negative because nature has created equal number of positive particles (protons) as the negative particles (electrons).

Therefore, before you think of copying the culture of another society, be aware of not only the desired traits that you wish to have but also the negative traits that will automatically follow the desired traits.

Mr. Awdhesh K Singh is a government of India officer. He is an Engineer by education and philosopher by passion.

He has published several papers in International Journals and Conferences on the subject of E-governance and the application of Artificial Intelligence tools like Fuzzy Logic (FL) and Expert Systems (ES) for E-governance. He also has keen interest in the study and application of Indian Philosophies for solving the real-life problems of the modern world.

Many of his articles are published on the website of Aatmic Science Forum

His website is:

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