India’s progression towards individualism

The pandemic has led us to debate over the question that has always made a distinction between west and east, and that is collective interest versus western individualism. Individualism is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon and India is nowhere outside this eclipse. In individualistic culture, we view self as ‘I’, whereas in collectivist culture, we hold an interdependent view of self. India’s history of collectivism is age old but with the neo-liberalism seeping in the country, it now seems that India’s progression towards individualism was really inevitable. Though India’s predominant religion i.e. Hinduism promotes the concept of individual transcendence, India’s idea of collectivism was prominent since ages. Drastic reduction in family size, high peer competition, increased need for autonomy and power,increased divorce rate, deterioration in the quality of parent-child relationship, increased apathy towards people – all these mark the initiation of individualism in India. People having inconsistent orientation with societal values are at risk of different mental health issues, which may justify the fact that India accounts for 15% of the global mental disorder burden. The socio-economic development is one of the major contributors. On the other hand, social media has become the window to peep into the rest of the world, which may have increased the pressure to conform to the western cultural mores. Indian adolescents are suffering from the conflict between plunging into solitary pursuits and adhering to the society’s expectations and demands. The traditional joint family was an important source of social support and it used to cater to the mental and emotional needs of a person. But today’s decayed social cohesion has given birth to excessive ‘I’-centrism. It may be said that with a balanced blend of both the cultures, India will become an empowered country in no time.

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