Tradition and progress are complementary to each other; they are not mutually exclusive. Too much of traditional bondage is as harmful as is too much of progress at the expense of traditional values. In fact the concept of ‘generation gap’ is but another name for this divorce between ‘tradition’ and ‘progress’.
Indian Society is a permissive society and progress is its watchword. Science has been making long strides and it has made our day to day life progressively simpler with increasing material comforts. Again the progressive social reforms and the new humanism have broken the shackles of the caste system. Man, the world over, is now one race. Today the distinctions of high and low born, white-brown and dark or colour-bar are fast disappearing like an evil dream.
Curse of Tradition
It is true; these were the curse of tradition. In India it was like the vice of our Sanskritic culture or Brahminisim. But day, through the efforts of great social reformers, writers and giants among politicians, these shackles have been snapped forever and man is much freer today. The decks have been cleared for progress.
But the question is, should we turn our back to tradition, to the past, to our culture? Has it nothing to contribute?
What is tradition in the true sense?
Man is one race, but his geographical background, ethnic factors, family and social limitations contribute largely to the growth of his personality. His religious ideology, faith, quality and level of education impart to him a mental bent, a habitual temperament that is unique to his own society, sect and tribe. This is the basis of his tradition and culture.
Progress that ruthlessly militates against this tradition or poses a threat to, it has to face stiff opposition. This traditional variety is the vital force that makes human life so charming, even if is faulty and backdated at places.
The traditional values like respect for seniors, duty to parents, the old and the sick, sacrifice for the physically disabled or financially crippled are little regarded by the younger generation today. Their ambition carries them on the crest of the wave. They believe that such considerations are but dampers in the path of progress. They feel it derogatory to stick to a loyal wife, because her intellectual caliber does not match with his own. Old parents are thrown into old-house asylums and children to the crèches. To linger back for the physically crippled or the old and the ailing is to fall into the back water of time, they say. Progress does not brook the idler, the weak and the sick.
It is progress with vengeance. The values of Indian culture had been an essential part its culture. The older families were like institutions that bred healthy values. Today the concept of progress that is a kind of commodity culture runs amuck such values. A vicious wave of self-centric life-style seems to swallow the human race.
More than ever it is necessary today to look back. The traditional flaws have to be weeded, not ruthlessly but with sympathy. The rate of progress has to compromise with the abiding values of the past. If the cultural mores are lost, we shall become rootless. Where tradition is an obstacle it has to be removed, but not by deserting it wholesale.