The modernity debate – miles to go

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The need for modernity is first created, then certain structures of modernity are inserted, certain apparatuses are put in place. Even though the modernity in its presence in south
Asia is not a derivative, it is an offshoot of a certain kind of implantation. It is not enough to say that modernity is imported, not enough to say that it is not merely derivative, not enough to attempt a delineation of the quantitative qualities of modernity in south
Asia. It is necessary to attend to the creation of the need for modernity. Then we have to ask, why it was accepted or resisted. When we hurry to blame colonialism for the violence released by modernity in the colonial society we are simply re-enacting that old exercise of excising agency to the colonised world. If we insist that in writing about colonial situation we must attend to the colonised as active and aware agents, then it is necessary to admit that modernity is not merely a coloniser’s imposition or a colonised minds imitative acceptance. We must accede that modernity is wilfully accepted. It is true perhaps that the critiques of modernity are also as old as its arrival on the scene. These two phenomena need careful attention as to where modernity was resisted, what kind of modernity was resisted, thus what kind of modernity was created in south
Asia. Again, in welcoming it where it was welcomed, what was welcomed, what was not by those welcoming it etc. The particular form of modernity as it came into practice is though not a constant over the time, perhaps has patterns of allegiance and affiliation, making and being made by other discourses.

The debates on modernity in postcolonial societies have been discussed ad nauseam, especially in the Indian context. There are those who say no modernity but the European one; those who talk of alternative modernities; those who talk of critiques of modernity. It is a bit suffocating out there in the modernity debate. But I still believe the lemon still needs further squeezing; it is yet meaningful to probe further to enquire the ways in which modernity is constituted by the discourses of people at various times and at various social / cultural levels.   

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