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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guidelines for review of a culture, so that you know


      At the outset, we will confess in our belief that reviewing a culture in its entirety and rating on a scale of 1 to 10 has a high degree of subjectivity to it. There is no perfect review of a culture. Objectivity will vary from person to person. A Muslim reviewing Arab culture may give a rating of 10 to it but at the same time a Jew in his position would probably give a zero rating! We will try our best to be as unbiased as possible in reviewing a culture as possible. This task also gives me an opportunity to analyze and understand cultures we hitherto never had a good understanding of. For example, we are not that well versed with the Japanese culture. So, what is the process  which I will follow in understanding and reviewing a culture and rating it on a scale of 1 to 10. A culture with a rating of 10 will be the best there is and a culture with zero probably never should have evolved in the first place. While we doubt that any culture would either get a 10 or a 0 for that matter any score above 8.5 should qualify that culture to be amongst the greats. We will classify the score and the relevant tag to the culture at a later point in this write-up. More info on my approach as below,

1. First, we will read various sources of information on the culture to get different points of view. We will go to the depth of the various aspects of the culture and understand the soul and essence of it. The various factors of consideration will be as below

       i. Longevity and resilience
     ii. Soft power and influence
    iii. Military might and power projection
    iv. Continual improvement and adaptivity
    v. Religion and philosophical depth
   vi. Tolerance and openness (Eclecticism) to external influence
   vii. Arts
  viii. Scientific and technical prowess
    ix. Internal fissures and overall unity
     x. Societal treatment of women and minorities

A brief look into each of these points below,

1. Longevity and resilience: It will be very difficult to find many a culture which has maintained its purity to its original form and survive thousands of years of human history. Cultures like India, China and the Red Indians have demonstrated enormous longevity and resilience and with many people in these cultures still following the traditions and practices that their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Many great cultures bit the dust and got completely transformed to near anti-thesis of their earlier forms. For example Egypt became a narrow closed society after its Islamicization as against its indigenous culture. Iran became Islamicized and Arabicized and today is a distant image of the once glorious and eclectic Persian empire. Christian Greece hardly resembles the once mighty influential Greek civilization. For a culture to be considered great it has to retain its core over the course of several thousands of years, right from its inception to current day. Many great cultures like Egypt, Greece, Persia, Mayans etc fail on this score.
2. Soft Power and influence: It can be easily seen that most great civilizations have enduring soft power and influence on other cultures/nations. Chinese and Indian influence is seen all over Indo-China. Arab influence is again seen in India and South East Asia. Roman and Greek influence is again seen on a great level in current day Europe and America. Spanish influence is seen all across South America. Here in Indic Race, we accord low priority to influence brought about my military conquest and forced practices. For example, Arab influence in South East Asia is given more points than the Point-of-Sword influence it brought about in India. In other words, influence brought about by barbaric means doesn't account for much points here in Indic Race.
3. Military might and power projection: Nothing much to be described here but again the caveat of the amount of brutality. For example, Alexander's conquest is not given much points as it was very brutal and well Barbarian. However, Chola conquest of South east Asia, not at all known for bloodshed is given more points as even the influence of culture is felt on conquests and expeditions. A violent conquest signifies that there is some negative trait to the culture.
4. Continual improvement and adaptivity: It could be that a civilization is geographically isolated and hence could end up being high on the longevity factor. Hence a separate criteria for continual improvement and adaptivity to innovations and changes from across the world. For example, the Japanese culture scores high in this regard but the Red Indian culture does not.
5. Religion and philosophical depth: Some cultures may be very successful technically and also prosperous but may lag when it comes to aspects of spirituality and philosophy. For example, the Chinese did not have a full fledged religion and had more of a vast philosophy trove not directly pertinent to spirituality but more to do with righteous living.
6. Tolerance and openness (Eclecticism) to external influence: It is said in the Rig Veda that "Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides". A culture may be very adaptive when it comes to technologies but may be a closed society and not tolerate other religions/ethnicities etc. Hence this criteria caters to that aspect. For example, China was very religiously tolerant as was India. Buddhism flourished in China.
7. Arts: Nothing much to describe here as it is self-explanatory. Fine arts play a great role in moulding a society and its thought processes. For example Greek society was known for its sculptures as was the Indian temples. In Indian temples entire epics were sculpted into walls.
8. Scientific and technical prowess: Very very self-explanatory. Almost all great civilizations will score well in this aspect.
9. Internal fissures and overall unity: Again, self-explanatory. Every civilization has its weak points and skeleton laden closets. The ability of the culture to openly analyze its weaknesses and address them actively speaks volumes of its resilience and preparedness to external assaults.
10. Societal treatment of women and minorities: Although this aspect is partly covered in 6 and 9, we felt a separate criteria is necessary for this. The way women are viewed by a society speaks volumes about it. While a minority community can be allowed to live in the society they may not necessarily be given all the tools and opportunities to flourish.

Apart from the culture rating we also classify cultures as the following types,

1. Grade A: These cultures/civilizations are simply the best of the best. They rate well in all aspects. India and China are the only cultures which fit the bill.
2. Grade B: These are cultures/civilizations which were great at one point of time but were probably destroyed/converted by another culture. Persia and Egypt are examples.
3. Grade C: These cultures are note-worthy and probably rode on/improvised on the innovations of other Grade A cultures. The UK and France are examples.
4. Grade D: Nation states. No civilizational legacy. For example Ukraine is an example.
5. Grade E: Mutt cultures. Cultures formed by freak history events. Generally a violent or malevolent nation/culture. Australia and Pakistan are apt examples.

This ladies and gentlemen, will be the the yardstick by which we evaluate and rate cultures/civilizations/nations. Please let me know your thoughts.

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