Features of Westernization:
1. The process of westernization subsumes changes occurring at different levels of technology, institutions, ideology and values. Broadly, it includes all changes that any non-western country like India or any other colonial country, undergoes as a result of prolonged contact with a western culture.
2. The most important area of change was the value preferences of the non-western societies. A most important value which in turn subsumes several other values, is what may broadly characterized as humanitarianism which means active concern for the welfare of all human beings irrespective of social inequalities based on caste, economic
position, religion, age or sex. Equalitarianism and secularization also form part of the value of humanitarianism. Humanitarianism refers to many of the reforms introduced by the British in the first half of the 19th century such as civil, penal and procedural laws
which put an end to certain inequalities that were part of the Hindu and the Islamic jurisprudence.
The principle of equality found expression in the abolition of slavery, in the opening of new schools and colleges- which were, in theory at least, opened to all irrespective of religion, race and caste. The new economic opportunities were also open to all, although in practice caste and other elite groups who traditionally lived in the big towns, enjoyed considerable advantages over others.
3. The introduction of reforms and new laws by the British led to several changes in the Indian customs which were earlier enforced as part of one’s religious duty. A religious custom had to satisfy the test of reason and humanitarianism if it was to be allowed to survive. As the British rule gained roots in India, the values of rationality and humanitarianism also became firmly entrenched in the caste-ridden society. The formal
system of education introduced by the British played an effective role in perpetuating these values.
4. Westernization is an all inclusive term. It covers a wide range of changes from western technology at one end to the experimental method of modern science and modern
historiography at the other. In the field of technology it has revolutionized the process of
mass communication, transportation, industrialization and improved health care facilities and has made available new comfortable gadgets for better living conditions. These changes are intimately linked with the life of the common man and have proved
5. The process of Westernization in India was uneven. Only a tiny fraction of Indian population came into direct, face to face contact with the British. And those who came in
contact with the British officers did not always become a force for change. Indian servants of the British, for instance, probably wielded some influence among their kin
groups and local caste groups but not among others. They often came from the low castes as well. Their westernization was of a superficial kind as the upper castes made fun of
6. The process of westernization has neatly intensified in many ways since 1947. The first and most critical step in westernization was the establishment of Pax Britanica and the revolutions in communications that followed. Extension of the administrative and trading
frontiers broke the centuries old isolation of the different groups inhabiting the remote parts of the country. Similarly the means of transportation and communication opened up avenues for new contacts.
Thus, development of communications and the removal of internal custom barriers integrated the economics of various regions in the country. In a word the political and administrative integration of India as well as the development of communication and the beginning of industrialization and agricultural development, increased spatial and social mobility of both the elite and the rural poor which laid the
foundation of subsequent nationwide westernization.
7. The form and pace of Westernization of India varied from region to region and from one
section of population to another. For instance, one group of people became westernized in their dress, diet, manners, speech, sports and in the gadgets they used while another
absorbed western science, knowledge and literature, remaining free from external attributes of westernization. For example, Brahmins accepted the western style of dressing and appearance, sent their children to westernized schools used gadgets like the radio, car etc. but they did not accept the British diet, dancing, hunting, and the casual attitude of the British about population.
8. Another feature of Westernization is that it creates many inter contradictory forces which, instead of consolidating, contradict each other. In the political and cultural fields,
westernization has given birth not only to nationalism but also revivalism, communalism, casteism, linguism, regionalism etc.