Certain social values like tolerance, collectivism, spiritualism, non-violence etc have been part of our traditional value system since time immemorial. Indian society has maintained continuity in traditional social values through:
- Institution of family has ensured that traditional values pass-on from one generation to next through socialization.
- Collective celebration of festivals reinforces values like brotherhood, fraternity, purity, triumph of good over evil etc.
- Social gatherings from functions to bhajan-kirtan etc. provide avenue for sharing ideas and values.
- Marriages, sometimes inter-caste, has helped in preserving community values.
India has been able to maintain continuity in traditional social values because of following reasons:
- Flexibility: Indian culture has been flexible in accommodating different and even diverging viewpoints.
- Evolution: Indian value system has evolved with time adopting progressive elements and abandoning regressive practices. For example: Socio-religious reform movements of India.
- Assimilation of different values and culture: Foreigners got Indianized when they came to India. For example: Scythian and Mughals.
- In different eras, saints like Buddha, Mahavira, Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Guru Nanak, etc. always emphasized spirituality over materialism, peaceful coexistence over aggressive dominance.
However, social values are changing under the influence of technological, political and economic forces. Following changes are taking place:
- Decline of tolerance: Incidents like the issue of Namaz in Gurugram and Haridwar Dharma Sansad show a trend of rising intolerance.
- Rise of individualism and decline in collective values. Materialism and excessive competition have led to an increase in selfish pursuit of personal goals while the collective need of society is often ignored.
- Nuclearization of family and decline of joint family as an institution.
- Modern education has made progressive values like gender equality, non-discrimination on caste lines etc. a part of the value system.
- Information technology has facilitated quick transfer of information and changed the traditional way of socialization obsolete. Now social media is influencing our social values both in a good and bad way. For example, the MeToo campaign or the recent Bulli Bai case.
Although, the forces of modernization have altered the balance of Indian traditional social values. However, the interaction between the two is dynamic. The traditional Indian values like ‘Vasudev Kutmbakam’ continue to assert their significance and their role in maintaining harmony in the world.