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30 Oct 2016 | Target Mains: Weekly Essay Challenge

  • As civilization advances culture declines.

    (2003 UPSC Essay Topic)

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

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  •  Bharath chandra Kolla @bharath-chandra-kolla

    A civilization emerges from the conglomeration of many different clans, sects which brings with them their own culture, over a period of time. Often times the direction of adaptation of a conglomeration is decided by a powerful clanout of them and it is often accompanied by a forceful conversion or voluntary abiding to what the powerful clan decides to be the course, going forward. For the reasons might be numerous as to why there is a such an action, the ease of administration and security can be seen as important ones among them.

    The variabilities now removed and more predictable societal actions, administration will be easier and over due course, the weakest cultures either don’t prevail or migrate to ride on the prosperity. Now that has been the format taken by many rulers from west to east and reverse over the course of history.
    This era however considers the diversity as a key factor for growth. Different cultures bring different set of skills to the table and together the survival chances are high than an isolated & regulated regimes. For a country like India, diversity of its cultures and the perspectives that they offer in terms of opinion in the providing direction for policy making and services, have an unique opportunity to establish a standard that the world can follow!

  •  Nitin Ningaiah @nitin29687

    Please review my essay

    •  Cp @chandraprakash-varadaraju

      you defined civilization and thats it.
      Few things that could havve been done
      1) Some other civilisation apart from India
      2) try some not so usual points – family structure impact, who are the ones who say that culture is declining and why do they say it

      Important word of civilization seems to be missing.

    •  Er S @ers

      1. In the first para you present a bias saying man has continued to evolve by adopting the best learning. Thats not correct. We prefer McDonalds burgers over indigenous sattu which is a much healthier fast food. We didn’t adopt the best learning we adopted what was more fashionable.
      2. Our culture today is more influenced by western world. 2nd would be the british rule. 3rd the mughal and before that the hindu rule. Today and Indus Valley Civilization have very little in common culture-wise.
      3. Some ideas are really good but they haven’t come out well. You talked about sati and namaste in the same paragraph.
      4. Read any text – its liberalism that values individual more. Capitalism is the most compatible economic structure which goes with liberalism.

      You have to present the eastern western dichotomy. How modernity is increasingly being defined by what is western.
      The conclusion I believe should be on the lines of countries like japan who modernized but were able to retain their culture.

    •  Nitin Ningaiah @nitin29687

      @ers Thank you, that was helpful

  •  VL @vikramnujs

    As Civilization Advances Culture Declines (1077 words)


    George Bernard Shaw once famously stated, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” While Shaw’s words ring true even today, one can say he did not consider the holistic impact of change on a civilisation. Changes in society are an inevitable byproduct of advancement or development. The decline of culture is closely associated with advancement of the civilisation. India stands as microcosm of this phenomenon across the world.


    India: An Example

    Before the Britishers arrived in India, the society was guided by the customs and beliefs of the rulers. Their actions and behaviours were guided by the holy texts, the diktats of kings and queens. Then came the Britishers, and this period reflects an interesting wavering of the mindset of Indian society. The first response to the Raj was not one of hatred, in fact there were many who believed that exposure to the British rule and education would be instrumental in guiding India into the new world. However, as more and more Indians were educated, they came to realise the folly of their thinking. Education allowed them to understand and experience the British rule as it was, a ruthless oppression of the Indian people. This education ignited the sparks of the national movement and the culture of khaki and swadeshi is reflective of those sparks. The British Raj, which began education in India with the belief of “educating the natives to serve the queen” backfired upon them. Then came independence, and our constitution which told us that the values of democracy, secularism, socialism etc., were to be our new guiding lights. India inched forward, into the new millennium. It is reasonable to say that 1990’s, or the era of Indian Economic reforms characterised by Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG) will go down as the turning point in the decline of Indian culture. As India was thrown open to the winds of free trade and exposure to foreign brands, freed from the constraints of the license raj and a closed economy, the modern Indian was born.

    A phrase often heard regarding millennials in India is, “Westernisation of Culture”. This phrase signifies nothing but a slow erosion of ‘Indian’ culture. The change in culture can be something very basic such as moving to an electronic mixer grinder from the traditional pestle and mortar. Now this change is merely reflective of adapting to easier means of going about your day, but an unintended byproduct of this is that a family which handed down the skill of making the mortar and pestle from generation to generation is now going out of business and someday that skill, because it is no longer relevant, will vanish. More and more educated Indians now wished to settle in abroad, for they believed that they could not live the life they desired in India. We began to idolise western culture, for it represented a more pragmatic lifestyle. Sexuality or even sex is a frequent target pointing towards the deterioration of culture. Gays, Lesbians, Transgenders and even live-in relationships are constantly targeted and pointed out as non natural or held to be in violation of rich Indian culture. India has shaped the history of sex from the first writings which treated sex as a science to through pioneering sexual education through art and literature. The sculptures at the Khajuraho temple and the Kamasutra are a testament to this.

    The other facet of culture is our religious practices, celebration of festivals and a moral value system founded in our religious values. This too has its pros and cons. It would be incorrect to say that we have washed our hands of this aspect of culture and are completely westernised or that even across the world the religious aspect of culture is dying. Festivals stand testament to the fact that any aspect of our culture which is worth celebrating has stood the test of time. Festivals such as Diwali, Holi, Durga Pooja, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter are celebrated across the world with pomp and show. We have demonstrated an ability to celebrate our culture in line with new age beliefs for e.g., there is considerable awareness generated against bursting crackers on Diwali (t prevent air and noise pollution), which is an integral part of our culture. Nevertheless certain armchair critics believe that celebration of festivals such as valentines day or halloween represent a degradation of Indian culture as these have no foundation in Indian culture. However, this is a regressive argument to maintain. One of the perks of globalisation is that it has made the world a smaller place, and any expression of love and happiness, irrespective of its origin, is worth celebrating.



    The reason for this is the fact that a lot of our culture, or even culture across the world, is not rooted in pragmatism. It is largely rooted in faith and shaped by the times in which it evolved. Take for instance, the aforementioned example of the pestle maker, he began making pestles when there was a demand for it, but today technology fuelled by the advancement of civilisation, does not require you to put in hours of backbreaking work for the same result. Another fallacy we retain with respect to culture is that not all of our culture can be sustained in this day and age. There are beliefs and views which are considered to be regressive and shedding these beliefs is a part of evolving as a society.

    To be fair, a decline in culture is not to be viewed through a prism of negativity at all times. It was a decline in culture which led to the abolishing of Sati, to child marriages not being a prevalent practice, abolishment of the devadasi system etc. But it is also culture which is used as a crutch to defend our terrible caste system, khap panchayats, honour killings, dowry and a global attitude of intolerance towards the LGBT community.

    We, as a people, cannot sit still. We must keep moving forward, civilisations should keep advancing. However, it should not come at the cost of forgetting who we are as a society. We should be able to draw a fine balance, between those aspects of our culture that define us and those that are a reminder of our primitive past. We must not forget either, for one keeps us grounded to who we are and one serves us as a reminder of how terrible we could be.

    •  Cp @chandraprakash-varadaraju

      Good points. In my essay i forgot to bring in the economic perspective.

      What makes you say abolition of sati is decline in culture? I will say introduction of sati was the decline part. same goes for your caste system, women role etc.

      You have taken 3-4 points and hammered them properly. 🙂

      Overall looks more like an essay about culture. There is also one more keyword: Civilization.

    •  Srishti Srivastava @srishtisrivastava

      Well written. The structure and the flow is good. The essay surely kept me engaged. 🙂
      The essay seems more like a piece on why the culture is declining and why it is a good thing. The other side not brought out adequately. Issues like consumerism, materialism, individualism, technology taking over life – lesser time for social bonding, art becoming more simplified due to influence of minimalism, commodification of women, increase in incidence of crime, environmental damage (even as it is coupled with greater environmental awareness) etc. can be brought out in order to present a more holistic take on the topic.

    •  VL @vikramnujs

      Thank you for the feedback, those are some great pointers! 🙂

This topic contains 9 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Bharath chandra Kolla 1 year, 6 months ago.

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