A pernicious influence

Amal Chatterjee
11 min readMay 16, 2024

Source: Google photo of a pernicious influence on young people

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Synopsis: The society changes over a period of time that we all observe. This change rarely is positive in nature, so we now see the pernicious influence of the Western society on the old and valued traditions and culture in many countries that bring many new challenges with it. The blog looks at what has changed and what the so-called X generation faces and how it copes with such change.

When I was very young, I remember the world as it used to be some 75 years ago quite vividly. It was a very limited world in which I lived where we wondered at the power of huge steam engines that thundered into the railway station. I used to look up in the night sky that twinkled with billions of stars, the milky ways and the comets like a broom and wondered at the enormity of the universe. At that age, everything looked awesome and wonderful because the sky looked blue and night sky was spectacular. There was no pollution so we could breathe pure air and took it for granted although there were a few motorcars on the roads, but most people could not afford them, so they had only bicycles that did not pollute the air.

We could hear the howls of wolves and hyenas during the night because our town was small and the wild animals lived in forested areas that started at the edge of the town. You could see the large deers called Nilgai from the train windows placidly munching grass and often we could see beautiful peacocks in our central park that was called Alfred Park by the British.

I could see the dolphins playing in the river but did not know that they were rare and on the verge of extinction due to poaching because the local government did not make any effort to save them or catch the poachers to punish them.

Source : Google photo of a horse carriage called Ekka in India that has now given way to motorized transport.

Source: Grand horse carriage of the British empire in India

There were horse driven grand carriages that people took before independence but only sometimes because in free India these types of horse carriages had become obsolete and were no longer seen on the roads. Slowly these horse carriages started to disappear from every city, town or other areas due to the introduction of motorized rickshaws and small taxies.

India was modernizing fast so the roads were crowded with trucks, buses, scooters, motorbikes and private cars making pollution and tremendous traffic, so we had to breathe the polluted air and worry about how to cross the streets safely. The traffic accidents increased, and many people died in such accidents daily.

Now the night sky was full of pollution, so we no longer enjoyed looking at the sky and stars. The city expanded rapidly, so the wild animals retreated further into safer havens. We could no longer hear them.

One day my father brought me to a fair where there were a lot of televisions showing some videos of the natural beauty of India, so we were quite impressed as children although it was the box type TV with black and white display because no one I knew had a TV. There was no TV station either, so people just listened to their radios. We had a radio made in England called Raymond that had many short-wave stations but no FM.

Then came the TV, refrigerators and other gadgets that the middle class could afford. They had discarded their bicycles in favor of mopeds or scooters. No one could afford a car yet but that would soon change because the manufacturing sector in India was rapidly expanding so the market was full of anything you wanted. We had moved into the modern age rather quickly, so the old British era was ending while people started to get used to rapid spread of consumerism that started to pollute the whole country as an ominous black cloud.

The consumerism brought with it some negative changes in the behavior of people who no longer had any time for social mixing with others and started to become socially isolated. From then on, it would get even worse when the smart cell phone and colored flat screen TVs appeared bringing with it more social isolation, arrogance of money and new car. People started to compete with others to see who got a bigger screen TV or a bigger pricey car and forgot all the values we had learned as children.

I had to show you the evolution of the society we knew as children to what it has become and what we have lost in the process. It makes me wonder how quickly people gave up what was beautiful during our childhood like saying hello or visiting each other or simply enjoying a game of Ludo or carrom. The allure of naked consumerism was indeed very strong, so it changed people into greedy beings who developed narcissistic and cynical attitudes that began to weaken the social links people used to have.

I have lived in many countries where I have seen the shocking extent of this pernicious behavior in people who trample each other to get into a store that has a one-day sale of something at a discounted price, so they get into a buying frenzy and even into fist fights with others. It gets worse when there is a power outage that gets some people into looting the store and running away with whatever they can grab quickly before the police arrives. They lose all restraint because of this greed for material things. One old woman was asking the looters if anyone had seen a night table she wanted.

I will now explain to you why I call it the pernicious influence that is spreading fast all over the world through the mass media like Internet linked TV programs and the social media that has unleashed an information avalanche unheard of a few decades earlier. I have seen it all since my childhood days of blue skies and bright stars during the night to what the world has become.

I have seen how the You tube, the TV channels and even the smart phones are spreading violent movies showing rape, murder and extremely shocking content that anyone can watch. There is a mind-boggling amount of pornography freely available even to children when the parents are out. Now young girls openly talk about watching pornography and have sex talks with strangers through numerous social apps for free not knowing the danger of predators who try to lure women into prostitution or sex trafficking.

A perverse change has come that has spread fast through the social media, TV channels and movies that has replaced all that was good and beautiful like classic movies that showed love stories or patriotic movies that showed valor and love for the country. Now the movies are in color and use computer generated scenes of murder and mayhem but not much acting. The song writers and singers who wrote and sang wildly popular songs that we still remember and play but now it has been replaced by cheap and vulgar ones that are digitally processed so the great singers and song writers have retired or died. They imitate Hollywood and show nudity that is now called modern, and action filled entertainment.

This blatant imitation of Hollywoodian culture has spread to all corners of the world that has given rise to thousands of night clubs where men and women mingle with strangers and dance with ecstasy under the influence of drugs and alcohol that spreads promiscuity among women and men. Women wear revealing clothes to attract boys in such clubs where very loud music, flashing lights and huge crowd gather to have fun.

Now they have night clubs for gays and lesbians who go there to engage in sexual activities and take drugs and alcohol in the name of having a good time. The DJ excites people with loud scratching music if it can be called music who dance in frenzy as if it was going out of style.

Movies show this kind of behavior all the time that starts to excite young women who were shy and timid, so they too now want to have a good time with strangers by holding them and rubbing their pelvis on them that leads to all kinds of troubles later on. Parents who do not approve such behavior from their teen age daughters are told that they are now adult who want to have a good time. The days of innocent fun with boys are over. Now they want to live dangerously by risking promiscuity because that is what they see in the movies showing nudity and bed scenes.

One such night club in Manila caught fire and the blaze spread rapidly trapping hundreds of people mostly in their teens who desperately tried to push the door open to escape but the door could only open inwards. They burned alive near the closed door. Soon the mortuary people arrived and fought over the charred bodies to keep them as ransom to extract money from the grieving relatives for their “services”. The world has degenerated into inhuman behavior because of greed and avarice of the worst kind. Often such night clubs are owned and operated by the criminal gangs like mafia that use such venue for drug dealings or other criminal activities.

The beautiful dresses women wore a generation ago has given way to low cut blouse showing most of the breast and covering only the crotch with mini shorts ripped with razor blades because that is the fad. No one wants to be dressed elegantly because someone may say how old fashioned!

College going girls start to look at boys with lust and keep condoms in their handbags just in case there is a chance of having sex. This sort of behavior starts in high schools now that the parents have no control over. It is not unheard of that many women earn money by selling their sex to pay for their college fees if their parents cannot. They are euphemistically called working students. Some schoolgirls were caught in a prominent college in India who skipped their classes to go to hotels to sell their sexual services. They said that it was fun to make money this way.

There are numerous massage parlors in Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand that double as brothels for some extra fee, so they are sprouting in many countries. In some big cities in India, women in fancy cars drive around during the night to pick up gigolos to have sex with and they pay the boys for their service. This is a complete departure from the traditions that we knew and followed as young teenagers. Now it is fashionable for women to be seen as aggressive and sexually provocative who call timid and shy girls as old fashioned. They totally changed the meaning of feminism.

The priests plead the Church goers to dress modestly but no one listens. This is not limited to places of worship but also has spread in schools and colleges where female students go to their classes in nearly transparent blouse without bra or worse and argue with their teacher who wants to maintain classroom decorum and dress code. They show no respect to their teachers who has a hard time to maintain discipline.

That is why I say the western culture is like a pernicious poisonous cloud that has now engulphed the whole world affecting millions of youngsters who see nothing wrong in imitating it. My classmates in California used to come to the class in their bras and panties while the teacher tried not to look at them.

The spread of shameless fashion, limitless greed for material goods , loss of respect for the elders, apathy for the pollution and destruction of the nature, increasing number of people dying in road accidents worldwide, credit culture promoted by the credit card companies, people living just for today and not planning for the future, living in debt but not prepared for the sudden emergencies are some of the evil ways that the present generation follows has made people frantic with no peace of mind. They are living in tension of losing their jobs, their houses, their cars and their material things.

What it boils down to is the loss of values that we used to cherish long ago. We respected our elders, our teachers and never argued with them. We did not buy anything we could not pay for with cash. We saved at least 25 % of what we earned. We took care of our parents and older siblings in their old age. We never took loans because credit was a dirty word. Smoking in front of our elders or teachers was a sign of disrespect. We dressed modestly for our high school and college.

We lived without TV, cell phone or Internet but we were happier. As children we did not have fancy toys, so we made our own toys. We never demanded anything from our parents and were always grateful that they always fed us well, dressed us reasonably well and provided a good shelter over our head. They took care of us when we were sick, and they always paid for our school needs, so we were always grateful.

One thing I learned from my Ma was the mantra that we must never live beyond our means. I have always obeyed her command and saw the happiness in her eyes when I told her that we live debt free and within our means. This is the value I am writing about that the western culture has eroded through its pernicious influence.

I understand that the values are constantly under pressure because the changes brought about through the technology are inevitable. The e mail has put an end to writing letters in Aerograms and dropping in the letter boxes. The Skype has put an end to expensive overseas calls and digital photography has been made available to everyone for free. The fact that I am using a computer to write this blog and publish it in a free website for my readers in many countries is a result of the modern technology so there are many positive changes the new technologies have brought us.

But I also feel that the loss of traditions and values that had sustained generations of people worldwide has now come under pressure or to change to suit the modern times, has hurt the humanity and has made us callous, insensitive, selfish, narcissistic, apathetic, mean and greedy.

It is time to ask if this negative change is worth it. Can we not keep some of the cherished values and live a purposeful and meaningful life while enjoying some of the benefits the modern technologies have brought us? It is for us to decide.

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