By: Munaza Kazmi
Culture! “the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning.”
However, Culture is the cornerstone of any civilized society and evolves over time with its values and norms. It is not a fixed concept, however, and can change for many reasons. One force that can cause a culture to change is the exposure to other cultures’ political and economical philosophies, social structures, religions, languages, and styles of education.
Talking about the culture of Pakistan, which seems quite diverse, and somewhat transforming, reasoning the involvement of different ethnic groups and its rich dynamic history. However, how far much diverse and changing it was, the ever constant object was the hint of respect, civilization, discipline and to which in Urdu we say, “Tehzeeb”.
Pakistani culture starting from its pleasant language Urdu, the beauty of its calligraphy, the softness of words, the way of delivery, the love and utmost respect in the dialect, that have no substitute.
Then our family culture, the warmth of togetherness, the cuddles of grandma, the knowledge sharing, moreover the satisfaction in eating together; The joint family structure.
Our delicious foods, from spicy biryani to the lip-smacking jalebi, from mutton karahi to yummy gulab jamun; the art of cooking, delight in learning recipes from mothers, planning food parties, the joy of sharing.
And the shyness in the eyes of little women, the respect for the family, the authority of brother, the honor in seclusion, the proper way of carrying oneself, the knowledge of forbidden……
Are you thinking that am telling you about a long-forgotten tale of 1960’s or 1980’s….
Perhaps you are right, am talking about the peeling once colorful Pakistani culture, leaving behind the strained, unimaginable, and wicked shadows of the intoxication of the Western civilization, and culprit we our self are.
Vine Deloria, an American scholar once said, “Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent.”
Hence, the flip side of the coin shows a more menacing picture. The increasing trend of westernization has taken our local culture hostage in numerous aspects.
Let’s start with the language, that is known as the identity of any nation. By far, the greatest impact that westernization has had on our culture is on the language. Our mother tongue Urdu is being replaced by English as a more common language used in conversations. This is happening because of the number of English medium schools in our society and the excessive use of email and messaging amongst the youth, which is usually in English or in a combination of English and a native language. It frequently, however, is communicated in Roman characters, diminishing the importance of Urdu script.
Moreover, the influence of colonial mindset is immensely drastic that a large part of society, specially youth feel ashamed speaking Urdu. In fact, we have started using English as a tool to distinguish between high and low class, we think it as a criteria to judge people, irrespective of their education and background. Those who speak English proficiently are considered among the elite class, despite the fact that Urdu was the official language of Pakistan until English was added only a few years back.
Next, the extended or joint family system, a trademark of Pakistani social culture, is losing its value and seems to be vanishing altogether, replaced by a culture of individuality. The youth of today believe in independence and individuality. As a result, we have seen a rise in the psychological disorders, divorces, suicides, and crime.
Food, another lifeline of a culture, which in our transforming society is being hitting very badly. The traditional concept of home-cooked food is being replaced by fast food meals from restaurants like KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds and others inspired by the fast food model.
Pakistani dishes, which were famous for their flavor, are hardly acceptable to today’s youth. As of today, we see cold drinks being used to such an extent that they are part of almost every meal, even in formal dinners. The introduction of energy drinks and sodas also has played a part in diminishing or I should say put an end to the consumption of traditional drinks.
Talking about the element of respect, discipline and our Tehzeeb it seems as another island. Our very basic “Salam” being replaced by “Hello”, the kids seems in uniforms now just carry paper books not the knowledge or education since they have surpass all the elements of regard or Lehaaz as we say in Urdu.
The youth if we consider, that is said to be the defining pillar, is now a days can’t even hold their own balance, flying in air with effect of drugs, how would they even pick a brick for Pakistan.
The women once having shyness in eyes now talk about mera jism mere marzi, however the meaning would be different but the choice of words are beyond admiration. Girls came from remote villages on the pretext of education well we all know what education they are getting in the dirty hostels and horrible flats.
The idea of socializing, liberation upon the curse of media have almost destroyed our culture. Now a days the half-naked dresses are common in stores even the advertising campaign of breakout and outfitters our everyday brands are showing half-naked women. I question if in the past they couldn’t make sale, the exposure of body is had become that essential that they have forgotten about our basic norms. And where is the control center, if its PEMRA or any another institution, why the authorities are blind or if waiting for complete destruction. Moreover, it is the responsibility of parents to look into the matter, since only giving birth is not the solution, we have to answer another Authority in the end, to which I believe we had forgotten.
Increased exposure to internet, television, movies, and video games has increased drug abuse, violence, and related vices. The Pakistani youth, which forms the majority of the population, are quickly being influenced as they are the most vulnerable.
The influences mentioned above are in no way the only areas where westernization has had an impact. Westernization has influenced every aspect of daily life, ranging from cuisine to basic human rights.
To that extent, even the minute details of daily life have been affected by westernization effects on Pakistan’s culture. However, Westernization has been part of the modernization process, but it is crucial to examine, otherwise it may lead to the disruption of cultural values and customs.