By Farman Ali
Globalization is now a reality of our daily lives, a topic that features regularly in academic discourse, a matter of concern and close watchfulness in the backward hilly societies. With the rapid revolution in information and communication technology, the world has shrunk to ‘the global village’. Human society, particularly mountain societies are faced with many challenges of what has come to be called as the post-modern world in which not only human living conditions are changing but long-cherished values and traditions are under stress of global trends. A kind of leveling of cultural differences is in process that is bringing a dull monotony in dress, food and living styles.
To traditional societies like ours, of greater concern is the moral issue as values change imperceptibly and the sharp border between good and bad dissipates and becomes fuzzy. Above all what worries most is possibility of the moral issue losing its relevance in social conduct. While cultures are blending and acquiring a kind of uniformity, the issues and challenges are numerous especially for our society where we have not yet developed the social and political awareness to be wary of where are emerging situations leading to.
Our youths at their most adaptable period of life are at the crossroads of the cultural trends that through media exposure, fast travel and growing inter mingling of people from various parts of the globe dominate the current scenario. They are most vulnerable to such influences and since the future of society and continuation of traditions is dependent upon their way of life, it should be of urgent concern to all that they receive proper guidance in choosing and rejecting trends that are supportive or harmful to our valued traditions.
Ours is a cultural heritage having its distinct value systems and norms rooted in our past. It is not however that our culture is exclusivist or isolationist. We believe in respect for elders and brotherhood of mankind and so are open in our approach to others. But our identity is dear to us and we are keen to preserve it. For instance the influences flowing from the west present the picture of a society that is highly selfish and individualistic. In comparison we see the individual as part of the society.
Ours is a culture of social and filial responsibility. Parents look after their children till they become independent and form their own families. But in their old age it is the children who take care of all needs of their parents. Brothers feel responsible for their sisters and so on and so forth. This sense of filial responsibility is a dear value of our social existence. We cannot allow this hallowed tradition to be destroyed under any pretext of modernity or individualism.
So the question is that of balancing between traditional culture and modern trends under the influence of globalization in the post-modern age. Progress has to be made and we have to march with the world. But this should not mean the dilution of our national personality which is of course nothing but the product of our values, how we think and behave and what our duties are as relatives and members of the society. We have to discuss these matters with the young people and know their thoughts about progress and change. Society is never static but the dynamics of change should have its parameters. But the best censors come from within that tell the youth what is to be accepted and what left alone. The youth will follow the elders if they see no hypocrisy or double standards in their lives and if they see them behave according to what they expect from the young. The doors of progress and change cannot be shut on the youth but progress should not mean materialism and change should not mean the loss of our identity.
This writing also serves as the concept paper for second lecture by GECA.