Asia Journal of Global Studies Vol 4, No 2 (2010-11), 93-102
Asia Association for Global Studies
Globalization, Hinduism, and Cultural Change in India
University of Delhi, India
This paper analyzes the impact of globalization on the religion, culture, and identity of Hindus in India. It describes how Hinduism, over epochs, adapted to outside influences and retained its unique character, but the sudden onslaught of globalization in our era is threatening its core values, traditions, and beliefs. As a consequence, religion in India is being disestablished and cultural identities are being dissolved. One major sign of decline is that Hindus, rather than actively expressing their traditional customs and beliefs, are now experiencing religion passively and vicariously through the virtual world of television and the Internet. What this recent development means for the cultural future of India is unclear, but it is to be hoped that Hinduism will rejuvenate itself through returning to its historic roots and counteracting the globalizing forces associated with cultural disintegration and homogenization.
RELIGION, CULTURE, AND TECHNOLOGY
Considering the span of human existence, man's contact with machines has been brief. The first ancestors of humans probably lived about two to three million years ago, and the evolution from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens sapiens took hundreds of thousands of years. Agriculture emerged only around 9,000 BCE and writing about 5,500 years ago. The modern technological age began in Western Europe only about 500 years ago. Great advances in technology and science led to the Industrial Revolution in Britain in the eighteenth century. Continued advancements in science and technology produced more and more inventions; the light bulb, the first major electric innovation, was invented in 1879; the first generation of electronic computers appeared in 1947, and in 1969 the ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, was born. The Internet came to be used as a tool for mass communication only within the last 20 years or so. In India, the co-existence of man and machine has been even briefer than in the West, spanning only 60 to 70 years. Contemporary globalization, as we shall see, has also been closely associated with this relationship. To understand what globalization means for India, it is important to first define the terms culture and technology. Culture is derived from the Latin cultura meaning "to cultivate." It means something cultivated or ripened as opposed to raw or crude. In a narrower sense, culture refers to a sophisticated outlook borne of education and enlightenment (e.g., the fine arts) ("Culture," Oxford English Dictionary [OED], 1989, pp. 1-8). In anthropology and sociology, culture generally refers to a way of life, or the ideas and habits that members *The material presented by the authors does not necessarily portray the viewpoint of the editors and the management of the Asia Journal of Global Studies (AJGS).
VOL 4, No 2.2010-11.PRINT ISSN 1884-0337, ONLINE ISSN 1884-0264 C Asia Journal of Global Studies, c/o The Asia Association for Global Studies 143-11 Hirato-Ooaza, Hanno-shi, Saitama-ken 357-0211 JAPAN
of a community transmit from generation to generation. In this sense, culture, as Tylor (1871) defined it more than a century ago, "is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society" (p. 1). Culture by this definition, which will be used herein, represents the total heritage of a society. Technology is derived from the Greek word techne, meaning "art" or "craft" ("Technology," OED, 1989, pp. 1-3). The word was associated in the English-speaking world with its Greek definition until the seventeenth century, when it came to refer to the study of the arts. By the 1860s, its meaning began shifting to its modern usage. The...
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