The term westernisation has been used to express those changes which took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. After the British came and ruled over India. Even when the British left India, many Indians continued to follow the culture of western nations. There have been many effects of Westernisation in Indian society. At present, the tendency to follow American culture has resulted in remarkable changes in costumes, machines, western theories, thoughts, philosophies etc. And these changes are likely to continue in future as well. Let us discuss some effects of westernisation are in Indian society.
1. Change in food and lifestyle
In the traditional system, the Brahmins a d high-class people were vegetarians and do not consume meat and alcohol. They also use to avoid onion, garlic and beetroot. Also before having food, it was mandatory to take bath and food was consumed after wearing clean clothes. But now because of westernisation people from all cast began using meat,liquor and eggs. They have also began to use all kinds of tubers like potato, garlic, onion, beetroot etc. Now it is not necessary to bath or to wear clean clothes before eating.
People have now begun to use edibles made in hotels and restaurants, like food, tea, coffee, ice cream, snacks etc which were avoided earlier. Also the practice of smoking and drinking has become common. People of India who use to wear cotton clothes and believe in living a simple live. Now they have started to wear jeans, pants, shirt,coat hat etc. Women are also wearing jeans, short tops,dresses etc. The use of cosmetics have also increased exponentially.
2. Change in Social Life and Institutions
Many changes have also taken place in Indian social life and Institutions due to westernisation. Few of them are changes in caste system, joint family system, marriage and social condition of women.
( a ) Change in caste system
Before the arrival of British in India, the caste system was inflexible. It was caste that decides for the person’s activities right from the birth to death. After the British came to India, new industries were set up, there was urbanisation and industrialisation. They familiarised Indians with modern modes of transport and communication. Due to all this people of different caste started working together in factories. They use to travel together. As the result of this the untouchability and feeling of superior caste and inferiority reduced.
The trend of inter-caste marriages increased. A person is no longer valued on the basis of his caste but on the basis of his character. Hence the constitutional and humanitarian values of the west reduced caste differences and propagated the values of equality.
( b ) Changes in marriage
In traditional Hindu society, a person could marry in his own caste only. Widows were not allowed to remarry. Child marriages were prevalent. Marriage was considered as religious ritual and no trend of divorce was there. The rules of same clan, gotra, same lineage was followed. But westernisation brought many changes in the rules of marriage, values, beliefs and thoughts. Child marriages reduced and late marriages began to happen., widow remarriage is allowed in our society today. There is also relaxation in rules of same gotra, clan and same lineage.
Today love marriages, inter-caste marriages are allowed and court marriages are also prevalent. Polygamy and same clan marriages ended and monogamy is considered the best. The trend of divorce increased and women began to consider their husband as a friend rather than God.
( c ) Change in Family and condition of women
Before the arrival of British to India, joint family was the main form of family. In such families four generations lived together, ate together, worshipped together and have common property which was controlled by eldest member. But the influence of westernisation Indians recognise the thoughts of individualism, materialism and equality. The members including women began to demand their personal rights and independence. Women education began, and they become aware of their rights. This result in abolition of child marriages, Sati practice thereby improving the condition of women.
3. Changes in Religious life
Many religious blind faith,rituals, shams and hypocrisy were prevalent in India. Many evils were breeding in India in the name of religion before British rule. Evils like Sati system, child marriages, human sacrifice, devdasi system, untouchability, use of veils etc were prevalent in Indian social system. Due to western education many efforts were made to end these evils. Many religious and reformist movements took place resulting in ending these evils to certain extent. Also the religious orthodoxy ended.
4. Change in field of Literature
Indian literature got influenced by westernisation. Indian laureate could come to know about other literatures of the world. And the Hindi literature a d the other regional literature got enriched due to English language. Indians now also used many words from English language.
5. Change in Fine Arts
The western culture also influenced the areas of fine arts in India
The British built many monuments which show the fusion of Roman-Gothic a d Victorian architecture. The Victoria Memorial of Kolkata is a fine example of westernisation architecture. Similar fusion of Indian and western architecture can be seen in various other monuments in cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Mysore, Delhi etc.
Apart from educational institutions, British rulers also established arts institutions in India. Here training was given for drawing, modelling and illustration as per the western traditions. The influence took place on Indian drawing also and an awakening took place in the field of drawing. E.B. Havel reconstructed the Indian art of drawing. Rabindranath Tagore created a new style by fusion of western and Indian styles in 1903-04; which is known as the “Bengal Style”. Many artists were influenced by this. Nandlal Bose, Ravishanker Raval, Kanu Desai, Haldankar and Ganguly are examples of such artists who were influenced by western style.
Changes in Dance and Music
Before British arrival in India, the scope of music was limited to some royal families. But due to influence of west, there was awakening in the fields of music and dance too. Rabindranath Tagore was an important person in this field. His music is known as “Rabindra Sangeet”. The Indian classical music remained unaffected but the common music was greatly influenced by it. The trend of western music, instruments and dance is increasing in Indian films and in society too. We can get to hear western music in parties, clubs and conferences too.
6. Changes in Educational Field
The system of Gurukul was prevailing in Traditional India. The right to education was not given to all but was limited to particular caste only. Other people got educated in their caste-based occupation. But when British came to India, they felt the need of clerks who could read and write English. So they established English education Institutions. They started universal education system here. Now people from all the class and caste were getting English education. This also helped in spreading education. English educated people were given preference in government services.
The ideals of liberalism, secularism, equality and independence were inbuilt in this educational system. Hence there was change in ideals,faith, values and lifestyle of people who got educated. Many social evils ended and social reform movements took place.The education and training which is given in fields of agriculture, science, medical sciences, engineering, law etc in present times is the gift of the British.
7. Changes in Economic field
Indian economy was a rural economy before the arrival of British. Agriculture and small-scale industries was the main source of income of people. Each village was almost an independent and self-sufficient unit. The production was according to the local needs by using animal and human power. The British rule changed the land revenue system and implemented Zamindari system. It resulted in the deteriorating the economic conditions of farmers. Industrialisation helped to increase the business, establishing banks, division of labour. Specialisation gave birth to Capitalism.
Dr. Srinivas believes that westernisation has given the humanitarian value to India.As per the prevalent laws in ancient India, there was no system of the same punishment for same crime. Rather there was provisions for different punishments based on religion, caste and post. The British ended this i equality and implemented the same law across the country. Thereby giving humanitarian base to it. Many reforms which were brought during the first half of 19th century by British come under humanitarianism. They arranged for the same education for people of different caste, religions etc. Schools, hospitals and orphanages were established.
Thus we can see that due to influence of westernisation, many changes took place in Indian society and culture and its traditional form has changed.