“Naga women work at home and in the fields. Men go to war. Men make the decisions. That’s Naga culture for centuries and we won’t allow anyone to destroy our culture,” says Vekhosayi Nyekha, co-convener of the Joint Co-ordination Committee (JCC) which represents all the tribes.
what if traditional indigenous culture was bad
The relationship between progressivism and colonialism is really complicated, particularly when it comes to sexism and racism. I don’t get a sense that modern progressives, localists and decolonization advocates really have an answer so people mostly just try to focus on easier problems. In academia there does seem to be a continuing feud between R2P human-rights world police and hardline
moral relativists, but everybody else is keeping their distance, which may help explain the parochialism of mainstream contemporary Western progressivism.
The Raj pitched itself as creating a multicultural union from a grab-bag of small warring communties, and did a lot to push progressive European values on India and discourage actually-extremely-bad “barbaric” practices like sati, all of which was correctly identified by the people it was imposed upon as imperialist thought-policing. (I think the Mughals were pretty much the same? so it’s not just a Western-imperialist thing.) The Iranian revolution also had some elements of the whole “traditional nationalist hypersexism as backlash against Westernization in a postcolonial context” thing.
To drill down on a specific topic, there are troubling examples (e.g.) of cases where Europeans showed up and made everybody stop practicing female genital mutilation, and then as a result female genital mutilation became the rallying point for people reclaiming their culture from the clutches of western imperialism.
There’s been a lot of work done on this and I probably ought to do more reading on the subject before acting like an expert, but for now my takeaway is that efforts to impose progressive values from outside (which includes dictates from the capital to the countryside) often fail or trigger a backlash because they’re perceived as Ultramontaine Manipulation from Corrupt Outsiders, and so it’s better to try to lend support to local resistance that forms organically (which sounds a lot like the CIA funding rebel militias when you put it that way, oof) but that’s a hard policy to put into practice, because a lot of things have to line up all at once.
Bill Gates is pretty explicit about getting young girls into school, for example
Also, the record of progressivism in promoting actually-good-to-modern-sensibilities-things, like female education and ending sati, has to contend with the historical reality of progressivism which was often “these stupid Indians/Africans are awful in literally every respect, let’s make them talk, dress, and act like white people,” with a generous helping of scientific racism on the side. So it’s understandable a lot of people would look at the progressive urge to improve other cultures and connect that with historical, ideologically motivated attempts to destroy those cultures under the guise of “progressivism.”