The 20th century can be termed as the century of communication. The main mean of mass communication grew in succession as the century unfolded.
Media messages have a deep impact on the society and are instrumental in creating the popularly accepted norms. Culture can be defined as the way of life which includes beliefs, aesthetics and institutions of a civilization. Considering today’s way of life, we would be lying if we didn’t admit that media is not an influential entity in our culture. In order to understand the concept of national cultural identity, it must be
clear what is meant by “Culture”. Culture can be defined as, “a complete way of life of people, the shared attitude, values, goals and practices that characterize a group, their customs, art, language, literature, religion, philosophy, etc, the pattern of learned and shared behaviour among the members of a group”
In short culture is a way of life shared by the members of a society. This includes their ideas, beliefs, language, values, knowledge, customs and the things they make.
Media has developed exponentially over the last decade. With its growth, it has brought about revolution in every household. People are not only aware of the global trends but also have them implemented at the best possible forms in their personal lives. It will not be an understatement to call media influence a Life Changer.
It is human nature to show affection to the land where he is born, grows up and lives. He admires and follows the customs, values and principles of the life designated by the social set-up of the country. He strives to make his homeland a free, secure and a better place to live for himself and the generations to come. In a free country people have the opportunity to speak, act and pursue happiness without unnecessary external restrictions. It is important because it leads to enhanced independence, expressions of creativity and original thought, increased productivity, and an overall high quality of life.
In the past 12 years, media in Pakistan saw historic horizons. The launch of countless private television channels and investment on foreign projects led to what we may call media revolution. We owe the change of our lifestyles to this media revolution.
Pakistan came into being with the same thought in the mind of our great leaders who were not agreed to see Muslims living in oppressive conditions without any identity or individuality. Two-Nation Theory is the basis of creation of Pakistan. It states that Muslims and Hindus are two separate nations by every definition; therefore, Muslims should have a separate homeland where they can spend their lives according to the glorious teachings of Islam.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s speech at All India Muslim League Conference in 1940 gives a crystal-clear concept of Muslims’ of that time. ‘The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social values and literary thoughts. They neither intermarry, nor dine together, and they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.’ Today, we are living in a free state, with our own laws, rules and freedom but a question arises here, is it the same Pakistan which our ancestors dreamt of?
Also owing to media, the Pakistani society is now conscious of the corruption and embezzlement that continues within the governments, judiciary, and other social system. For over 65 years, the same people, coming from the same back grounding and following somewhat the same pattern of governance with change of names have been surfacing. The amount of embezzlement was on the rise always. It was only when media came into existence and strengthened enough that these embezzlements were unveiled and brought to the front. This has not only led to a threat of exposure thereby catering to the eradication of malpractices on a minor level even if not major yet.
Among all these major changes lie the small changes within our life styles. A decade ago, I remember Chinese food was a specialty and a rarity. It would be cooked on special occasions and people would dine out occasionally to relish it. Ingredients as the Peri Peri Sauces, Paprika, and Cheese etc were all limited when it came to domestic households. However, with the blooming food channels airing in Pakistan, our cuisines have revitalized. Domestic food has become much glossier than it was before.
And not to forget are the forever changing beliefs and norms. Our views about life and career prospects have broadened. What used to be the land of doctors and engineers now has the best media personnel, skilled IT professionals, and brilliant writers. It is an outcome of media projections too.
As far as the celebrations on the Independence Day are concerned, the nation shows love and enthusiasm for their country but, on the whole situation is different. Every year we celebrate Independence Day on August 14, with excitement, great zeal and passion. Our nation renews commitments to make Pakistan prosperous and strong. Buildings are illuminated and decorated with national flags. Political and civil society organisations arrange rallies, parades and vibrant functions in all small and major cities of the country. Similarly, the electronic media plans wide-ranging programmes, including national songs, talk shows, dramas, quiz, etc. to mark the occasion.
The print media carries special supplements, articles, features and highlight the importance of the day and sacrifices rendered by heroes and nation’s forefathers for it. These programmes highlight the significance of the day, ideology of Pakistan, importance of identity, goals set for the future and pay tribute to the Father of the Nation, Quaid-e-Azam. Regrettably this enthusiasm remains just for few days.
The role of media is enormous here whereby the extensive promotion of western product brands is forcing consumers in our society to simply reject the local brands and consider them inferior comparing with the foreign brands in the market.
The bloom of media has changed our lives in ways we could not imagine a decade or more ago. Our eating habits have revolutionized, dressing styles changed, buildings’ architectures alleviated, thoughts and views broadened, relationships redefined and perceptions varied. It is our domestic tool to be a part of the constantly globalizing society; the insight to the world’s changing trends and our guide to the beautiful and unseen landscapes.
Today the world community comprises more than 180 countries. Pakistan appeared on the world map in August 1947. But in fact, since its creation, with every passing year, Pakistan is losing its identity. It’s not because of economic and political background, but due to the changing life patterns and thoughts of every Pakistani. It’s the individuality or national identity that makes a nation different from rest of the world. Pakistani society is undergoing a massive cultural change rapidly resulting in an identity crisis for Pakistanis. The deep-rooted embedded cultural values in our society are becoming hollow and gradually fading away.
Various catalysts for change are responsible for this scenario including media as the key player. The European and American culture is slowly engulfing our society. The role of media is enormous here whereby the extensive promotion of western product brands is forcing consumers in our society to simply reject the local brands and consider them inferior comparing with the foreign brands in the market.
The programmes telecast through satellite TV channels and on cable TV networks in Pakistan are predominantly western and Indian. The promotion of American, European and Indian culture via dramas, movies, music programmes, skits etc., telecast on various satellite TV channels escalate change in local culture and values. Pakistanis tend to be more appreciative of the foreign cultures being promoted than their local values and trends. Therefore, they prefer adopting these foreign cultures hence leading towards a change in our society.
Our new generation is so much involved with foreign culture that it’s getting away from the local dresses. They cannot differentiate between the two and ready to adopt whatever is shown to them by the media. They hardly know its actual and indigenous values, culture and traditions. And those few who are followers of their own culture are thought to be out-dated or backward.
The undue westernization is dominating the typical Pakistani culture. For instance, the extended and joint family system, a hallmark of Pakistani culture, is slowly deteriorating. The younger generation seldom cares for their parents and elders.
Fascination of English language is so much that many Pakistanis, who are fluent in English, are unable to understand Urdu. Therefore, speaking English language is a status symbol and the people speaking Urdu are considered backward or illiterate. They are creating inferiority complex among those who do not have good command on English but speak excellent Urdu. Further Urdu language is getting unwanted additions due to invasion of foreign words (Hindi and English).
A new language which is a mix of Urdu, English and Hindi words is emerging. Similarly, the meal preferences have changed from chapatti and rice to Subway, KFC and McDonalds. Instead of traditional drinks, Pepsi and Coke have found its way into our homes.
Muslims being in majority in Pakistan are losing their Islamic/indigenous values and ultra-modern educational institutions as well as media are gradually inculcating western and Indian values in the younger generation. It seems that Pakistanis, a nation of 170 million, are confused about their ideology, culture and sociology, values, religion, priorities and even enemies.’ Unfortunately, our own media is playing a significant role in this regard.
Mahathir bin Mohammad, former prime minister of Malaysia is of the view that we live in the age of information technology. There has been and there will continue to be an unending explosion in the field of information technology. Today, we can sit in our homes and watch and hear whatever happens in the world. But what we see, hear and witness is decided by media. Clearly the people, who decide what we should see and hear, hold mammoth power.
As the people who control the media, control our minds and probably control the world. And who control the powerful world media are not the national governments of developing or developed nations but a very few people.
As the people who control the media, control our minds and probably control the world. And who control the powerful world media are not the national governments of developing or developed nations but a very few people. They have an effective weapon in the form of a worldwide television network. Today, they broadcast slanted news, tomorrow they will broadcast raw pornography to corrupt our children and destroy our culture. They are already doing that in Europe. We can control the reception today but not in future. He further says that Malaysia believes in press freedom but with responsibility.
The situation is indeed alarming for the national identity in Pakistan. Therefore, firm steps are needed to be taken on regular basis to preserve Pakistan’s cultural values and identity.
Apart from government to take measures to control the cultural invasion, the responsibility lies on every Pakistani to own, respect and love this country. We have to believe in our own native values in order to save and secure our identity. Being Pakistani, we should not forget that our homeland made us stand out in the map of the world as an independent nation and provide us the freedom, which many Muslim countries are still striving for today.
If we want to live with honour, dignity and secure our identity, we have to proudly own and love our country. If we want our upcoming generation should breathe freely as an independent nation in the world, then, today we have to work in the best interest of Pakistan. We have to rebuild our characters and minds to take the track which leads Pakistan to the destination our ancestors had dreamt of.
Pakistanis and Pakistani media are required to respect the native traditions and individuality, abide by the rules and regulations of the federation, support the minors/minorities and provide education for all irrespective of their financial and social background, we can bring the change, prosperity in our society and secure our homeland. The intellectuals in media and the political circles have the responsibility to start the debate. It is through repeated exposure that the citizens will start to identify themselves with democratic and liberal values.
To minimize and resist the effects of western and Indian channels, it is suggested that local channels should be strengthened and programmes should have better content. These channels should produce and broadcast quality programmes that could help in the promotion of Pakistani values and traditions and improve the image of Pakistan at international level.
Note: This article has originally been written by Urooj Fatima