Social Scientist. v 8, no. 89-90 (Dec-Jan -1) p. 68.


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MIHIR BHATTACHARYA

Semi-Feudal Aesthetics

ANY ONE travelling from the south to the north of Calcutta along a particular road is attracted by a huge concrete structure rearing itself against the sky. It is a temple under construction. The workmen busy putting genuine marble adornments on the concrete core of the structure say that the work will take years to finish. The Birlas, who have undertaken this massive construction, are well-known for their piety. They also happen to be the leaders of commerce and industry in India. A combination of tradition and modernity seems to be represented here.

It is quite tempting to take the Birlas5 edifice as an emblem of Indian reality. Looking at an Indian city no one will doubt its indigenous modernity. There are skyscapers built by Indian contractors on Indian design. Three indigenous brands of motor cars are on the roads. Trucks, vans, scooters, motorcycles and ordinary bicycles throng the streets. Latest trends and up-to-date ideas are bandied about by young engineers, managers, executives and intellectuals. If ideas and values of capitalist west really dominate the urban life of India, we have something like a common Indian culture which can be called bourgeois.

Theoretically speaking, our problem is to isolate a relatively pure strain of bourgeois culture in the present-day India. If such



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