India Cultural Identity Challenges Essay

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India Cultural Identity Challenges

Many non-Western countries went through a phase of decentering due to the influence of Western countries This led them to lose their identities and embrace Western influence as part of its society. This decentring had a big impact on their social and cultural aspects and led to the formation of a new society that has a mix of Western and native culture today. Many Asian and African countries were ruled by European colonial powers during between the 18th and 20th centuries and one such country was India. It was ruled by the British for two centuries and this led to a substantial decentering of their culture.

Prior to British Imperialism

India was a predominant Hindu nation before the arrival of the British in the early 1600s. The country was divided into many regional kingdoms and each was ruled by a dynasty. There was constant strife and war among these dynasties and the powerful one held control over substantial parts of the country. Each kingdom took care of their administration and people's welfare and there was good economic relations between the different kingdoms.

All this changed with the arrival of the British during the 1600s. They started trading with the Mughal dynasty of northern India under the rule of Jehangir in 1617. Soon, they established the East India Company and began to take advantage of the growing weakness in the Mughal empire and the discord between neighboring kingdoms.

Impact of British Imperialism

The British ruled India for almost two centuries. The British East India Company took an active role in the trade and economics of the country from 1757 to 1858 and slowly, this influence began to extends to other aspects of the society as well. They established a direct rule from 1858 until the country's independence in 1947 (ukindia.org, 2010). Such an extensive rule left a big impact on the country and this led to a decentering of the Indian culture. The British rule had its share of positive and negative impacts on the country and its society.

Decentering of Indian Culture

One of the biggest decentering aspects of culture was the introduction of Christianity into the society. Though Muslim influence was present in the country even before the British arrived, it still continued to be a predominant Hindu country. The British brought Christianity with them and this shifted the country from a Hindu-majority to a secular one that embraced Muslim and Christianity as a part of its society. Numerous people began to voluntarily convert to the new religion to please their British superiors, for better economic benefit and also due to an interest in the new religion. This shaped the society and has contributed to the secularism that is seen today.

British influence also led to the slow death of the caste system in India. Prior to their arrival, the society was divided into four prominent castes and they were the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras in the hierarchical order. The Brahmins were the learned ones who used the scriptures to advise the kings on economic and political actions, kshatriyas were the warriors, vaishyas were the traders and the sudras were the lowest and poorest members of the society and they were also known as untouchables. The British rule blurred these divisions and a united struggle for independence further reduced these caste divisions and led to a more united society.

When the British came to India, they brought technology that influenced the Indian society in a big way. Earlier, the Indian medical practitioners used traditional forms of medicine such as Ayurveda and herbs to treat diseases. The British introduced a new kind of medicine popularly known as the "English medicine" to cure diseases. This consisted of chemical-based tablets and syrups that were based on advanced chemical… [END OF PREVIEW]

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