This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Culture Vulture

Hermann Goering was one of the less repulsive of the Nazis, someone I don’t find quite as easy to dislike as I do the others. One of his comments I treasure: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’, I reach for my pistol.” Incidentally, he was a wonderful shot with that pistol, reputedly able to shoot the caps off bottles at thirty metres without touching the bottles themselves.
Now I could spare the word ‘culture’ my attentions, but for the total, appalling, inexcusable rape, murder and mutilation visited upon it by people who should know better, especially here in India. “Culture” for them is a carry all term. It can be interpreted as one wishes, and used to excuse pretty much everything.
Social discrimination on the basis of caste? It’s Indian culture!
Murdering brides for dowry? It’s Indian culture!
Disdain for social responsibilities and hygiene? It’s Indian culture!
Suppressing sexuality? It’s Indian culture!
Thinking we’re better than everyone else? Well, jiminy whiz, it’s Indian culture!
Taking bribes and greasing palms? Believe it or not, that’s Indian culture as well…
The worst offenders are the North Indians, who love to pass off their socially retrograde traditions, including child marriage, the wilful neglect of girl children, polygamy, sex-selective abortion, you name it, all as Indian culture. For the North Indian, of course, North India isIndia. He (the “she” part of the equation has not the right to have her own opinion) is almost always either ignorant of, or ignores, the world outside North India (a vague place called “Assam”, some “Bambai”, another called “Madras”, and a vague abroad known as “Amrika”, all of which are pretty inconsequential anyway). With only slight differences, this goes even for the educated lot.
I recall attending a “cultural festival” in Lucknow years ago where a tribal troupe from Central India, far better than the rest, was not given the award because they were not “typical of Indian culture.” And the judges were – allegedly – committed and qualified individuals.
Down in the east, we Bengalis, with our kalchaar (the Bengali typically can’t pronounce the hard “u” to save his life) are a national laughing stock. The less said about us the better. Bengalis still worship at the altar of the long dead Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate in 1911. That’s the last anyone ever heard of Bengali “culture” in real terms. Marathis, in the west of the country, have their similar fixation on the centuries-ago “hero”, their king Shivaji. In the name of these long gone men, Bengalis and Marathis are willing to burn down buildings and vandalise libraries. Just as in the South the Tamils and Kannadas, who literally worship their film actors as gods and goddesses (no, I am not joking) can do when said deities prove they are mortal after all. Some culture.
Let’s, therefore, see some manifestation of Indian “culture”:
We are happy to have foreigners come and gawk at our erotic temple sculpture, but we ban Fashion TV because that is “against Indian culture”.
We’re more than pleased that they should come and pay to visit the (Muslim) Taj Mahal, but we demolish mosques to build temples to fictional god-kings.
We go on about Indian culture being harmed by sex education in schools, yet this is the land of the world’s oldest sex manual, theKama Sutra.
We keep talking of Indian culture requiring arranged marriages – yet history and traditions are full of people who married for love or did not marry at all.
We - except here in the North East - worship cows and leave them to starve in the street and attack people (I have been attacked numerous times and injured twice) and try to suppress the simple fact that historically Indians ate beef and offered up cows for sacrifice.
We go on about how extramarital relationships are against Indian culture - yet we worship the god Krishna, who allegedly had 16,000 concubines called gopis.
We love to talk about how we revere the old. So –in human terms – old women dumped to beg for a living in Vrindavan or – in material terms – newly excavated temples being taken to pieces for their bricks is also part of Indian culture? Writing graffiti on the walls of the Qutb Minar in Delhi is culture?
The oldest habitation on the subcontinent so far discovered was the Indus Valley Civilisation of about the same antiquity as the Sumerians. These people are of unknown origin, but the Hindu Right were busy trying to prove they were proto-Hindus. Now these people also had extremely high levels of town drainage (covered brick-lined sewers, drainage sumps, the works) and personal hygiene (public and private baths). So these alleged proto-Indians were clean and hygienic. I suppose the current state of India, with garbage dumps in public and unwashed multitudes, urinating in public against walls, isalso in accordance with Indian culture?
So let’s demolish Khajuraho, blow up the Taj Mahal, and bulldoze theIndus Valley cities down under again. And let’s impose North Indian social norms, South Indian films, Marathi kings, and Bengali music on us all.
Now that would be Indian culture.

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