Television, and Its Effects on the Indian Population

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Television, and its effects on the Indian population

Ever since the advent of modern communication technology that has allowed people around the world to communicate ever so easily, the world itself seems like a smaller space. Broadcasting is an especially effective manner through which millions of people are able to become unified on the basis that they are common recipients of a particular message. One of the most powerful transmitters of these messages is of course the television; programs of which can be seen around the world to serve many purposes. In most contemporary societies, television is a highly influential medium of popular culture and plays an important role in the social construction of reality. (Morgan, 1990) The effects of television should therefore be recognized as having the ability to alter social, economic and political situations in its places of propagation and beyond. I will be exploring these cultural shifts in detail pertaining to India, a developing nation undergoing a grand cultural shift in part due to the rapid growth of satellite television in the 1990's and its programming. Television is unlike any other medium of mass communication in that its social effects are prominent, and able to prompt substantial change. The strong cultural influence of television on developing nations can therefore be linked to the following factors as outlined in Johnson's article. First, television programming is easily accessible and inexpensive, which is mainly due to the fact that American television is sold inexpensively around the world after profits in its home market have already been made. Television's potency is also a result of its broad scope and diversity of programs which therefore makes it appealing to almost anybody. Yet another reason for television's mass appeal is its benign presence, which allows viewers to be in control of what they watch, how much they watch and when to watch it. (Johnson, 2001) Ultimately, it is these factors that propel the reliance on the medium which has the power to inflict many societal changes in developing nations such as India. Through the examination of diverse groups in India such as rural villagers, youth, women and the middle class, I intend to illustrate the vast social and cultural changes taking place in a culturally rich country, in large part due to the relatively recent popularity of television throughout the country.

While almost 75 percent of India's one billion people live in villages,(Johnson 2001) their thoughts and actions consequently have a large influence on the country's social, political and economic state. One of the most prolific changes in village life which can be linked directly to the influence of television is rise of consumerism in rural India. Just as we are enveloped with advertisements and endorsements which propel us to purchase that which we deem necessary, the same is true in rural India in which such things as blue jeans and hand cream have become necessities. Villagers themselves acknowledge this growing need:

"I want many things that my parents never had. I want a motorcycle and a nice colour TV, I want to eat mutton once a week instead of three times a year" (Johnson 2001)

Through this illustration, it is evident that needs are certainly growing and it is due to television and advertisements that the economically dependent third world is now being internally pressured to make shifts that may not be financially possible yet incredibly desirable.

Another growing desire of the rural Indian population is to become urbanized, leading to a shift in behaviour and relationships.(Johnson, 2001) Not only do these villagers want to mimic the representations of their urban counterparts by changing their attire and consumer goods, their attitudes are also altered as a result. Such phenomenon can be seen as a positive shift which allows modern attitudes to flourish, through which more sensitivity and emotion are finding their...
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