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27 Nov 2016 | Target Mains: Weekly Essay Challenge

  • Modernisation and Westernisation are not the same.

    Instructions: Write the following essay in 1000-1200 words.

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  •  Kunal Aggarwal @kunalaggarwal

    Modernization and Westernization are not the same

    Westernization has been an increasing influence on the world community for several decades now. It includes adopting the western culture over one’s culture. This may penetrate all spheres of life such as food, music, law, political structure etc. Many people have equated westernization to modernization. Modernization is simply evolution of society from traditional to modern. A modern society is more focused on rationalism and science than a traditional society.

    One can easily see the difference between modernization and westernization in eastern countries like Japan. Japan is a developed country which is modern and has well developed scientific sphere. It is very important to note that they have not adopted western values and culture in their system. Their food, music, polity and beliefs are very different from that of western world. They believe in community and family system much more than any western country does.

    With in India, impact of westernization can be seen easily. The western lifestyle is considered better than tradition lifestyle in many spheres. For ex – adoption of consumerism, changing food habits such as aerated drinks and packaged food. India was majorly a traditional society even till British Raj in the country. However, it started changing after their occupation of the country. They introduced new social and political systems that were prevalent in western world.

    Sati Pratha, Child marriage and cruelty towards women were practiced on a large scale. These were stopped through social reform movements and people stopped these practices to some extent. This led our path to modernization with rational actions which provided women’s rights and respect to them. This process of modernization focused on scientific ways of analyzing existing practices and condemned them if they did not have any scientific reason. However, Indian had not adopted disintegration of family system as a way of life. This is a western culture of individualism where family do not live together whereas in India they do. Family systems were reformed on modern lines providing rights and respect to all members of family.

    Today, western food outlets that sells burgers, pizza, pastas are so common. Our young generation has adopted these foods as a symbol of prestige and their modernization. There is no reason to consider these food items as superior to traditional food. They may not provide enough nutrition to people and thus must not be adopted as modern food. Modern food should include scientific proof of better nutrition. Current trend is simply of westernization and not modernization.

    Western culture has developed over time which is according to their tradition systems. For ex – Justice evolved in western world as equality and rights over time. However, India even during Independence had not adopted western justice system directly. It was modified to provide differentiated rights to people. Providing rights to people is modern but uniformity may not be. Secularism in the western sense meant separation between state and religion. India did not adopt this form of secularism and developed its own system which includes positive intervention in religious affairs and even supporting minority religions. This is done as per modern values of equality, rights and justice for all. However, as one can see, this does not involve imposition of western systems on national systems.

    Similarly, western world has adopted different economic systems. There was a time when the whole western world was following capitalism and the eastern world was majorly following socialism. There were ideological differences between the two blocs. Many countries adopted different economic system based on socialist values which were also considered modern. Keynesian economics however moved the countries to follow mixed economy. Even India at the time of Independence adopted mixed economy.

    India’s economic system are unique in its own way. Western models of economic prediction, rules have not been directly adopted in the county. There are innovations done in processes to adapt to local environments. It is modern to adopt economic systems based on economic science and not based on what is followed in the west.

    Modern practices have been adopted in agriculture which includes use of machines to increase productivity. The country has used fertilizers, adopted biotechnology and even genetic modification as the science is developing. It is alleged that we adopted western methods of agriculture and this has led to unsustainable practices. Recent changes in the country towards organic farming and adoption of sustainable practices is a way to modernize our systems. Prevailing tradition practices and social circumstances need to be taken care of while modernizing our systems and direct adoption of western systems can be dangerous.

    Similarly, modern world focusses on better healthcare and education system. However, learning English can be attributed to westernization. Ignoring traditional systems which have sound scientific basis can not be called modern. Ministry of Ayush world to preserve our rich tradition of Ayurveda and other traditional medicines. Modernization would mean research on these traditions, find out science behind them and suing them based on sound scientific knowledge whereas westernization would neglect these medicines and focus on allopathic medicine system which is prevalent in the system. Similarly, modern education system focusses on developing a child’s capacity to learn and analyze the world. It does not necessarily mean adoption of western education system.

    Blind adoption of western systems and practices can have dangerous impact on the social and political systems of the country. As can be seen, India is struggling with providing health care, the world with high environment damage. The world needs to modernize based on sound science and not based on western values only. Even in India, we are adopting western value systems. Kerala had recently imposed Fat tax on some food items to change food habits to healthy ones. We are grappling with the problems like breaking joint family system, individualism and consumerism.

    India needs to modernize itself and westernize the country. Our social and political systems have evolved over centuries since Vedic times. We are a country with much higher diversity than western world in terms of religion, culture, language and ethnicity. Western world does not have such diversity and thus their systems are different and may not applicable in Indian scenario.

  •  Prasanta Pandey @prasantapandey2014


    The battle between the east and the west still continues as each try to preserve its culture and assert its powers. Just as the fight to be superpowers continues, the west and east continue to outdo each other in other aspects. The concept of modernization means an evolution from traditional society practices to modern social status. Modernization has brought about transformation of societies which has been experienced since time in history. The term modernization however, has been mistakably been taken to mean the adoption of policies that favor other societies. The changes have been witnessed in the political, economic production and social systems

    In the 20th century many transformations continues to change especially the most controversial issue of culture. Societies have remained attached to their practices and beliefs and any attempt to change them. This has remained a contentious issue when the east is approached to adopt policies from the west. They view this as colonization from the west which is blocked in every possible way. Civilization brings about modernization; and civilization has historic start in Europe. The different civilizations such as the one rising from Tigris-Euphrates and Nile river valleys contributed a lot to the modern man. The Middle East in the 4000 B.C.E. also experienced civilization revolutions through agrarian revolutions. Technological innovations also characterized this period which contributed to better economic, political and social development. Consequently the changes contributed to the present day modernization.


    Modernization can be traced to the historical development in Europe, since the 14th and 18th centuries there were major transformational changes. They included renaissance, scientific revolution, the age of great discovery, agrarian and industrial revolution, and enlightenment. In order to be modernized there are two preconditions involved; they are secularization and innovation.
    In secularization, man is required to have human value that means the satisfaction of practical needs and not accepting idealistic ideas. In adopting secularization man has stronger sense of reality, rationality, and active in social matters.

    Innovation on the other hand, requires casting away traditional ideologies. In real meaning, modernization moves man from a spiritual or GOD centered society to a man centered one. It turns out to be rational and scientific.

    Modernization also brings the issue of enlightenment which brings about a political and social rearrangement that is based on rationality, science and development. For example, the capitalistic system, a liberal democratic system and sovereignty need to be involved. Modernization means industrialization that is built on science and technological revolutions. Science makes man understand the world while technology gives the tools to have a better world. This means that the quality of life is improved contributing to a modern society.

    For modern transformation the country must therefore undergo economic, political, and cultural transformation. Economically, the country needs to transform from traditional agriculture practices to modern industrial practices. Politically, the country must move from dictatorial and feudal autocratic practices to free and fair democratic society. Culturally, the society needs to move from uncivilized groups into conscious individualism so as to have independence.

    The democratic view of modernization is the ability to restrict power by use of law, having multi-party rule, having security forces to protect the state, democratic elections, accountability of the government, decentralizing the functions and having participants of the people.

    Does modernization mean Westernization?

    Separating modernization from westernization is the issue that lies in the mind; whichever side of the debate one is then he or she can give contradicting statements to prove a point. Many will debate on the loss of culture and the imitation of the western culture as modernization while others will base their argument on the adoption of democracy and a free society.

    The modern societies have a great deal of common aspects however they never merge into homogeneity. Some have the assumption that the modern civilization is the same as the western civilization and consequently western civilizations is the same as modern civilization. This conversely, is not true.

    The western culture has been seen to be based on philosophy and rationalism of the Greek, the law of the Romans, natural law, the Latin language the rift between Catholics and Protestants and social pluralism. The cultures of the west have not been well accepted in the east in areas like China, Russia, and the Middle East, where centralized bureaucracy and absolutism exists. To the east the adoption of such culture and values would be colonization and modern day slavery.

    The social and political values depicted as western civilization are therefore rebelled against.
    The values view as western modernization include liberty, individualism, equality, free markets, capitalism, constitutionalism, separation of the church and state, the rule of law, human rights and democracy. This creates a democracy paradox; where the Islamic world and the east in general oppose westernization. As the time passes on the differences between the cultures become less and less; the gap therefore closes. But in the modern society many may resist this change seeing it as colonization. Nevertheless, change is inevitable and as technological and industrial revolutions are adopted the enlightenment period get closer with people demanding their rights. This means that the society will crave for change. However the adoption does not mean a complete merger of the cultures to one global culture. There will always be real and significant differences in the modernization. For example, the democracy, communism, and fascism were modern political systems and since democracy has been adopted by the west does not mean it is westernization.

    Modernization and westernization:

    Societies have defied all odds to modernize despite the negative notion brought by those who oppose change. Westernizing and modernizing have already been differentiated by a clear line. While modernizing is the adoption of technology and industrial revolutions; westernization on the other hand is the adoption of the western culture and ideas. Therefore for those who modernize does not have to adopt the western cultures. They just need to maintain their own culture but retain the ideologies of the modern world.
    For modernization to take place there must be minimum requirements which include; industrialization, urbanization, occupational social structures that are complex and diverse, rational, effective and efficient economic groups, revolutionary decisions, education of the masses, efficient communication systems, centralization and global economic participation. Above all there must be social and political will; which might incorporate western values such as liberty, human rights, constitutionalism, secularization, democracy, equality and free markets.

    The East especially the Islamic nations has particularly remained cold in adopting the western values more specifically due to the religion factor which is seen as an overtaking of the Muslim religion and culture by the Christian practices and norms.

    For a global village to be achieved there is need for most nations to adopt modernization and play away all difference. On the other hand, it does not mean forgetting their culture but it means retaining it and preserving what is beneficial to the society.


    Modernization does not mean aping the law, politics, lifestyles, language, religion, and education systems. But, it entails empowering the societies to decide what they need and want at all times. It involves making their lives easier through revolutions such as industrialization which will make them change from the traditional practices to modern concepts.

    The east can experience better economic, political and social benefits if only they embrace modernization, to ensure the cultural and social values are always preserved within the society. This is the unique character of modernization; it does not strive to change the individual but the means of the individual to live. It is also good since it allows individuals to discover themselves, their strengths and weaknesses which will contribute to better control of the system.

    Please Review/Comment!

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Kunal Aggarwal 1 year, 5 months ago.

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