Society & Lifestyle
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The Rising of the Indoor Culture
|by Kamal Wadhwa|
The tremendous upsurge in the demand and supply of housing is a manifestation of the emergence of an indoor culture in India. It seems that everyone wants to stay at home or in a substitute of that home in the office, car or public transport. The motive behind this wish is to get nature out of one’s life and regulate the human body with artificial aids such as medicines and tranquilizers.
In the indoor culture people are afraid of sunlight and use shades, drapes and curtains to keep it out of the home, office or car. Pills and powders are consumed to make up for the resulting shortage of vitamins. The indoor Indian is fastidious about maintaining hygiene at home often with great effort and enormous cost. Hence pest control, fumigation of the furniture and renovation of the home become chronic necessities. Having lost contact with nature and his senses, the indoor individual is mortally afraid of insects, cockroaches and other pests.
Gadgets, toiletries and assorted potions are indispensable for the indoor culture. Living indoors means having recourse to cosmetics, perfumes and deodorants to ward off unpleasant odors and smells. As a consequence with the passage of time, the denizens of the indoor culture become medicated and adopt antiseptic lifestyles. Drawing inspiration from the West, urban and suburban India are becoming a dependant society unable to survive without medicines.
In this indoor lifestyle a premium is placed on seeking comfort to the point of luxury. Even clinics and hospitals have become luxurious extensions of the home and the indoor individual will check into a hospital not for obtaining relief from any ailment but simply to rest and relax.
The indoor people’s diet is rich, meat-based and full of sugar and fats. Doctors, dentists and psychiatrists are highly valued and consulted at every opportunity. In the new evolving lifestyle men and women are weaker, less resistant to disease and dependent on others both psychologically and emotionally.
Ostensibly work seems to be worshipped in the indoor culture and leisure is devoted to part-time employment that yields additional income. Consequently, alcohol and drugs are tempting substances for the workaholic. Conspicuous consumption and donning designer clothes with expensive jewelry are hallmarks of the indoor culture and a natural outcome of the obsession with work.
With the emergence of the indoor culture, a great deal of importance has been on put on the construction of roads, rest houses and toilets that are crucial to the indoor people’s survival. Moreover, passenger cars have been fitted with radios, television sets, air conditioners and computers. The success of the indoor culture has been made possible by the extraordinary development of the telecommunications network. This facilitates commercial operations over the telephone, facsimile machine and computer and the indoor type individual need not step outside his home to engage in any business activity.
In the indoor culture young people are urged to acquire pragmatic, result-oriented education of the American variety. This has led to the making of a crudely materialistic polity that is replacing the idealistic India of the Independence era. Indeed the indoor culture has been made possible by tax evasion and money laundering. In essence it is a consumer society that is vastly different from the India of yesteryear.
The indoor culture commands vast resources and consequently conspicuous consumption is the sine qua non of this society. Moreover, with the deregulation of the economy, indoor people enjoy the advantage of consuming luxury imports that are directly correlated to the outgo of valuable hard currencies. On the other hand, the Indian masses remain mired in poverty and are being marginalized in development and welfare policies undertaken by the government.
The onslaught of the indoor culture is creating a dual economy characterized by the polarization of wealth and power. The affluent and elite class of Indians wields a stranglehold on all available and affordable housing while the rest of India ekes out a livelihood in the outdoor environment. The indoor culture is fundamentally pitted against any notion of sustainable development because the scale and magnitude of its consumption defies description and quantification. It is virtually endless in its needs and wants even when they are superfluous and far in excess of genuine requirements.
With the so-called “structural adjustment” reforms undertaken by the government of India, millions of people throughout India have been eased out of jobs with little or no security. In the new employment paradigm sweeping across urban India, experienced employees are considered to be too old and hence are “deadwood” for the organization they have served loyally for a lifetime. Youthful and new employees are cosseted and given salaries worthy of the rajas of pre-Independent India. Hence arises the necessity for middle-aged people to reinvent and repackage their personalities with gym workouts, cosmetics and designer clothes often with enormous pain, effort and cost.
Prospective job applicants no longer rely on their aptitude or talent to land a job but on dress and mannerisms that project their personalities in a positive light. Hence arises the recourse to fancy resumes and looking good at all cost even if it is on paper. This phenomenon only underscores the fact in the new, global India no new worthwhile employment opportunities have been created except perhaps in call centers and back offices of multinational corporations. Now people are hired just to sit behind computers and be polite and “social” with others of their kind.
Equally hard partying at discotheques and pubs follows the “hard work” in the office. At these social places, tabs for food and drinks are simply “taken care” of. Surely, there must be a catch in this display of largesse and hospitality; indeed it is public funds that pay for these junkets!
The rise of big business houses that were unheard of a decade ago has been made possible by the surfacing of illegally acquired wealth. Not many people have noted the laundering of the underworld’s wealth because the lowering of wealth and corporate taxes by the government has thrown up a whole new class of affluent people. The government itself is coming under pressure from the wealthy (who often include underworld elements) to abandon time-tested solutions and laws that protect the public interest.
A coterie of criminals is gradually gaining control over the State and Central legislatures and the slow, ineffective and corrupt legal system is powerless to arrest this trend. Bribes and transfers have castrated the police force and it too has become a silent witness of the daily instances of criminality being engaged in by the denizens of indoor India.
There seems to be a boom in the property and real estate market but this is the result of the freeing of agricultural and other protected land for the construction of high-rise buildings. A lot of unearned income has found its way into the real estate sector too. Apartments are going begging for buyers. And since scarce water resources are being diverted to those who can pay for them, there is no just or rational allocation of water.
The national media seems to be gagged by the government and newspapers no longer carry any hard news but frivolous and escapist articles that ignore the grim realities of life in India. Worse, media attention has shifted from the domestic economy and polity to what is happening in London, Washington and Paris. There is hardly any coverage of domestic commodity markets. The spotlight is now on software services, electronics and outsourcing – the new mantras of global India!
Concomitant with the rise of the indoor culture is the formation of influence networks that can buy material concessions and amenities provided the price paid is right! It means that wealthy NRI progeny can get plum postings and jobs while meritorious candidates are denied the opportunity to serve their motherland. A mere telephone call can secure a job for the financially well endowed!
The denizen of indoor India enjoys western standards of living and he continually demands services and facilities from the government without paying any taxes or contributing significantly in any manner to the national exchequer. This lifestyle has made the adoption of imported values rampant in the indoor culture. The pernicious mimicry of the west manifests itself particularly on television, the electronic media and the film industry. Blatant pornography, senseless violence and unwanted smut are the visible faces of the westernization that is now sweeping across urban India.
The government is pushed to the wall to finance and guarantee the resources and wherewithal to fuel the indoor culture. Consequently, social development expenditures have been slashed drastically thereby depriving the masses of India of a meaningful future. In a nutshell, the indoor culture risks becoming a society of privilege, pleasure and perversion. Regrettably, no one has risen to challenge the right of the indoor elite to monopolize and hijack the nation’s future.
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