There is an increasing demand for making this world smaller and of late, the buzz word ‘globalisation’ is becoming ever so popular. While I subscribe fully to the core idea of globalisation, I am tempted to further the discussion by referring to some of my personal observations.
I remember having said in an UNESCO seminar in Manila, a few years back, that globalisation does not necessarily mean imposition of the indigenous culture of a technologically advanced country on its poorer cousins. It also meant that the indigenous culture of the poorer or less advanced countries should also be globalised. I dare say, I cannot bring myself to believe that any linguistic or racial group would automatically be attracted to an alien culture unless there is a desire driven effort to discover and understand it.
Here the endeavours of Ravi Shankar to globalise his music, starting with a scintillating recital at the Woodstock festival in the USA, a long while ago, could be a good example. His concert took the American youth, or a substantial section of it, by storm. The jhala, almost like a tempest, towards the end of his music worked as a kind of intoxicant. Those were the days of ‘anger’ and of ‘peace’ and of ‘flower power’ (or of days when peace could have been wrested through anger).
However, the global appeal of Ravi Shankar simmered down soon. It only lived in the minds of a selected few Indian classical music enthusiasts within the USA. He mentioned this himself on a number of occasions. Ravi Shankar did not succeed because his was a one-person effort. And it was also a disjointed effort. In order for his music to be universalised it had to get uninterrupted support especially from the electronic media pervading the wide-wide world.
Look at it from our end. Via electronic media, we are being constantly bombarded by culture that is not our own. That’s the reason why many unknown music, song or even lifestyle do not seem alien any more. Besides, it is cool to be West-bound. The situation would continue to be so as long as the ownership of media does not proliferate with the entry of people belonging to diverse cultural background.
The question against the backdrop of such a scenario is whether this uneven situation is going to go against the cultural sensitivity of a substantially large section of the world population. The encouraging insight of the subject is, the media power that be has already noticed what we are worried about. I remember having read in a leading local daily at Springfield, Massachusetts a front-page commentary on globalisation. The scribe of the article started with a question. He asked, whether what was known as globalisation was actually Americanisation. In the light of the fact that today’s USA is, for all practical purposes, the policeman of the world what is happening in the name of globalisation is activities driven by US interest.
But, as I have already pointed out, this phenomenon is getting noticed. And the advanced West is also becoming aware of the fact that they had to watch their steps. May be much less in the field of culture than the others but the awareness is there.
In this scenario, we have to take charge ourselves. We should first be sensitive to our culture much of which we have managed to decimate by being utterly callous. We should stop aping the West and also imbibe the spirit of taking a fresh look at our culture, which has stood the test of thousands of years, amongst our posterity. We should of course let fresh wind of the world culture blow through our doors and windows but we should also make sure that our culture gets equal attention the world over.
One way to start it would be to present to the world whatever is good, rooted to our land that has stood the test of time. If they were of no consequence they would have been obliterated by the unkind onward march of time and dynamic process of life itself.
Aly Zaker is among the leading personalities in Bangladeshi theatre, a renowned actor on stage and television as well as a noted ad-filmmaker.