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II.5.3.2 Westernization

M N Srinivas – westernization can be defined as socio cultural changes in India as a result of contact with the western society especially British. It is a very simple concept. He considered the role of westernization in India as ideological, cultural and technological level.

Meaning of westernization

At ideological level- adoption of western ideologies of liberty, justice, rule of law, equality, logic and rationality, universality

At cultural level – equality of women, nondiscrimination, following of western food habits and other cultural traits

At technological level – advanced technology, innovations, research and technology

Westernization stands for change in technology,  institution, ideology, values and philosophy. It is one of the prime factor of social change in modern india. Westernization is an ethically neutral concept. It is based on western model. Modernization stands for neutrality, democracy, rationality, economic freedom, secularism, social mobility. It is ethically positive concept.

In technological dimensions refers to innovation introduced by British originally not meant for Indian welfare but was for colonial interest but eventually it became beneficial. Eg. Railways,  printing press,  Telegraph.

At ideological level it stands for western philosophy and western education. It is a new orientation which emphasize on equality, rationality,  scientific temperament, secularism, logical thinking fraternity. Consequently it cultivated in Indian people high degrees of liberalism, women’s autonomy.  Westernized mind had new look at the caste system.

Impact of westernization on Indian society

it has promoted disintegration of joint family because of the forces of modern education,  industrialization, urbanization and feminism.

at the level of caste system westernization promoted de recognition of inequality and promoted secularization of education.

The education of traditional system was imparted in sacred places which promoted discrimination. The contents of education was secularized which was caste or religious oriented earlier.

Westernized individual live in Universe of class instead of universe of caste.  They may defy the rules of ritual purity and pollution and they marry outside caste or religion. They tend to analyze day to day experience rationally and logically.

Efficacy of divinity is minimum place in their day to day life as they are rationally oriented. They may look at elements of divine phenomena through a new dimension.

Relationship between westernization and sanskritization

There are many similarities and contrast


  • Sanskritization is a collective phenomenon whereas westernization is an individual phenomena.
  • Sanskritization promotes caste system whereas westernization opposes it
  • Sanskritization promotes religiosity and rituals whereas westernization stands for secularism
  • Sanskritization is an as old process but westernization has been promoted in India after coming in contact with British rule.
  • westernization unlike sanskritization is not confined to any particular population and its importance can be in terms of affecting the number of people year after year. example changing preference in matrimonial advertisement. In last two to three decades changes are as follows. In Hindi Matrimonial there is emphasis on caste and religion but English matrimonial shows that girls and boys should come from educated background and caste has no bar.


  • However both sanskritization and westernization travel together in line comfortably
  • According to S C Dubey Western Technologies have been transformed into an agent of sanskritization. example new printing Technologies and microphone and directly promoted sanskritization especially in urban areas. The higher caste in urban areas are accepting westernization and giving up sanskritization.
  • Giving up of Sacred thread, change in the structure of kitchen and the manner in which they are used.
  • westernization creates a vacuum which is filled by sanskritization in the lower caste
  • SC Dubey- it is nothing new in India, since time immemorial different streams have been coexisting in Indian society. It is distinctive nature of Indian Culture. Example on birthday, in the morning people visit temples and in the evening people cut Cakes and open wine bottles.  It is largely due to accommodation of different views and practices. In other words it is an able management of pluralism by being tolerate and respect various ideas and ideologies.
  • Purusharth sanchay (accumulation) and Tyag (sacrifices) go hand in hand. The very fact that we are in a position to modernize the tradition rather giving it up. In other words we try to adopt and mould Western elements according to the needs or desires of local tradition in the society.  example using computers for preparing horoscope.


westernization has brought about socio cultural changes in India not at the cost of traditional values and ideas. Western and Indian elements go in tandem and go hand in hand. The forces of assimilation,  accommodation,  integration  are at work simultaneously.

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