Blame it on Globalization – II

Jo, has a new episode of his Malayalam podcast M-POD. This time it is an interview with Dr. C. R Rajagopal who teaches Malayalam at Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur. He is also the director of Centre for Indigenous Knowledge, a group working on documenting traditional knowledge.
To explain the value of traditional knowledge, he sang a a very nice folk song about various types of seeds and when to farm them. This song was from a book Krishi Geetha (Krishi = Farming) written in the 17th century and was taught in schools. Not anymore.
As people worked with nature, they observed many facts about weather, plants, animals and such information was captured in stories, legends, songs, and sayings. They also had art forms which captured various rituals. This knowledge is getting lost and now there are about 60 groups in Kerala which sing these songs and transmit the knowledge from the older generation to the younger. There are audio albums, photo albums and books available which capture these words of wisdom. A very commendable effort indeed.
If you are a Malayalee, then the words, globalization and western culture has to be used in a negative connotation due to how the Malayali DNA is structured. This word appears in this interview also for no reason. In his introduction Jo mentions that Dr. Rajagopal is going to tell us about knowledge which is getting lost due to the big influence of western culture in our lives. Then Dr. Rajagopal utters the word globalization in an unusual situation.
He said that collecting this information is required due to the globalized situation we are in. According to him, this information can also be used for fight globalization which according to him is trying to grab the intellectual property of local people. He has contempt for the current culture (calls it Azha Kuzhamban culture) and wishes that people would pay more attention to this knowledge.
Globalization has definitely introduced problems and the patent fights for Basmati and Neem are good examples. There is no doubt that local knowledge is getting lost, but it would happen even if the forces of globalization were not present.
Long time back itself, farmers stopped cultivating land and started selling it off for real estate due to the increased labor costs. Now due to the excellent living conditions in Kerala bought about by the globalization of labor, no one wants to work for a living. Fruits and vegetables come from Tamil Nadu and when there is a lorry strike, the prices of everything goes up. When you are not farming anymore, what is the need of songs which talk about various seeds?
Second, knowledge is being lost as people from villages move to towns. We are not talking of Dubai here, but towns in Kerala. Half of the knowledge of grandmothers get lost when mothers live far away from them. When this knowledge is transmitted by the mother to her offspring, some more knowledge is lost. Even if you exclude globalization, information is just lost as the current generation does not need it. This is happening in each family living in Kerala itself.
Instead of blaming everything on globalization, such people should take advantage of the forces of globalization to spread the knowledge. Already they are doing it by collaborating with universities and organizations outside India, creating websites and multimedia and by producing such podcasts. What is required is an attitude change to look at the positive power that globalization can provide.
Related Links: Blame it on globalization

One thought on “Blame it on Globalization – II

  1. I am a malayalee, married to an american – as ‘globalized’ as it gets – unh? 🙂
    Trust me – i enjoy the cultural effect of my globalization very much…..
    I sm at a loss though to understand which is the greater tragedy – the loss of culture of the globe?
    or the loss of the ‘globe’ in the haste to globalization?
    Would someone please explain?
    Perhaps with the “realization” that in gaining one the other should NOT be lost – both the globe and ‘civilization may be saved!

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