TOPICS: Crafting cultural values

It never occurred to me till recently— that the crafting of cultural thought and practice as intrinsic to development has been on my mind for a while now. Some of us may be experiencing it or making observations of the kind. Here we stand today in the midst of this revelation called “development”. Underdevelopment is passing us by with a warning of things to come- some in a bag of hope-others in bundles of hopelessness.

Our parents and grandparents lived in so called “underdevelopment”. They opted for a simple lifestyle partly due to economic reasons but more so due to Vedantic principles of simplicity and austerity.

They educated their children as best they could for knowledge about” bikas” which would add value to traditional thoughts and beliefs. But bikas deluded them gradually. Bikas meant delinking oneself from human bonds and becoming singly and fiercely independent . Charity became a kind of weakness of the giver and the taker. It was laudable to make fast bucks devoid of conscience while the time was ripe, and then throw pennies for a cause to be publicly appreciated. Labor became demeaning, “Big talk” became essential to impress.

For the highly educated and wealthy, life remained manageable somehow as long as it nurtured foreign aid and shrewdness in the garb of entrepreneurship.

No longer adept at manual labor, having given up their earthy traditions, the poor however had to seek seemingly greener pastures elsewhere beyond the mountains

And so the story goes—- the crafting of changed values was so neatly packaged and marketed by development that owned the copyright to “bikas”. And as people especially those who were hurt the most, eagerly awaited the promise of a better life of peace and security, they also grew wary and lost patience till they gave up talking about development and found solace in their karma - as shared for generations by their forefathers.

But meanwhile so much had gone unnoticed that there was very little to live for. The earth had begun to crack under the weight of lopsided development, fields were laid bare, familiar crops had disappeared, people had become distrustful of each other and sheer karmic existence too had become a nightmare.