India, throughout history has been a country of continental proportions. With a very rich heritage, this great country has been one of the most diverse countries, in terms of language, religion, race, customs, festivals, rituals, music, cuisine, clothing and lifestyle. The civilizational history of India, as per the researchers, dates back to five thousand years. Only the continent of Africa exceeds the linguistic, genetic and cultural diversity of the nation of India. Diversity in India is a result of millions of people who have migrated here in the course of five millenniums and who hence became a part of this realm, absorbed in the Indian way of life. But whats interesting is, the awesome mindset of the people. And there is actually a way to generalize this unity in diversity, this mental make-up of this remarkable country.
First things first, I personally think that diversity is wrongly portrayed by the Indian media.
All media has to offer is some turbaned dude from Punjab doing Bhangra, or a woman with jasmine flowers on the hair and extremely loud makeup from Tamil Nadu preparing Sāmbhar, or an extremely old person in traditional Rajasthani clothes on a camel in the desert. Modern India is way more than that now. And I have been thinking, so many things regarding India that nobody else commonly ponders upon.
Diversity according to me, is Mumbai, the city where dreams are fulfilled, villages get hope, underdogs get famous! Where the crowd is its essence, where every person inside that crowd represents a household, and no one person walks without a purpose, the everyday purpose to fulfill the greater need, and only to come back to the solitude that he deserves after a day full of carrying his own cross and slogging to keep the bread coming twice a day for him, and for his family in a far-off remote village.
Diversity is a university campus in India, where students from all 29 states, all walks of life, all races and languages, all religions and sects come together, eat, stay, study together and make history together, where there is no discrimination of white or black, rich or poor, strong or weak, tall or short, but its education which is imparted to all without any constraints.
Diversity is Kerala, the country which is called God’s own, where the coconuts are bigger than the hearts of the people, where every citizen is educated but not all are learnt, where every person has a relative in the middle east, where one language has various regional accents, where everybody reads the same newspaper and where the people of the land are scattered in every country in the world.
This is modern day India and it has changed, and people of the ‘out-going’ generation need to understand that the thousand year old, so called ‘rich’ culture of India is not the same anymore. And change, THIS change is good.
The debate about the pros and cons of “westernization” has shaped the past ten years of history of India. Everybody has been talking about it. Is it good? Isn’t the skirt length becoming shorter day by day? Are Indian people ready for this ‘western culture’? But, let’s face it, what is done cannot be undone, and what is coming cannot be escaped. If people have listened to Queen or Michael Jackson, they can’t unhear it.
Take a very small example of Indian entertainment and western entertainment.
- Television: Where does Mumbai stand, when it comes to television series and reality shows? Isn’t mythology still the ‘awesome’ for Indian television? There has been absolutely no innovation in this field for ages now, except for Shahrukh Khan’s mega debutante start, “Fauji”. On the other hand, the USA and the UK have come up with some of the greatest television series manuscripts which have changed the way people all over the world look at things.
- Music: How many band labels and band specific recording studios exist in India? How many globally renowned bands have come out of India? Do bands in India have the popularity or the resources to go on world tours? How many major bands like Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Linkin Park, Coldplay etc have come to India to play? India is still very predominantly a pirate country for 70pc of the population of the world. (It’s like how we look at Africa as a continent of scary forests and scary looking black big lipped people having painful rituals such as face piercings, all courtesy of national geographic channel) and hence, bands don’t come here for performances. They are plain scared probably. Or there is no interest at all. The world has seen innumerable stadium rock bands, but none from India. One major progress in this field though is the EDM festival, Sunburn (in Goa). Except of that, all what the world’s second most populated country has to offer is Hard Kaur and Mr Yo Yo. I seriously don’t know what exactly in Mr. Honey’s songs sells so much. Probably it’s just the Sunny Leone factor. The sad news is, that I don’t foresee any major bands coming to India and playing in the next 10 years too even if there are hardcore fans out here. Because even if we listen to Rihanna, what is etched in our hearts is still Jagjeet Singh.
- Cinema: Many people in India see English language movies more than Hindi. It is just because of the fact that they are more informative, innovative, fast moving and obviously more entertaining. Indians need to understand that every movie should not be a destroyed/impossible love story with a happy ending.
Hence we cannot escape the west. So much technology is being developed. From Apple products to exotic sports cars, from curved TV screens to innovative clothing, we definitely can’t escape this phenomenon of westernization. Talking about western clothes, they are a way of Indian life now. So why not wear them, if people are more comfortable and confident in them? The country’s youth which makes up 55 percent of the population is not interested in what the older people have to say. Hence in a nutshell, this outcry against “adopting the western culture” is just so lame.
But on the other half of the balance, so much diversity/heritage and the traditional Indian mindset is the root of some very grave specific problems that I think should be thought upon very seriously.
- People in India believe that India’s rich past has shaped the present. Well, sadly, it hasn’t. India is totally now on a course, a little amiss. History saw India as a superpower, a great trade source and as a country having extreme wealth. (Say all that to all the people living in shacks which is blown away by normal wind of 30mph) I say, what use is our history of now? How is multi-culturism in any way, helping is now? Is unity in diversity still a thing? Isn’t communalism way more a dangerous problem now? Do people have special consideration towards us, saying that ‘you were a great country before? This problem of banking upon the fact that India was a great country is wrong. We should probably work towards doing it all over again.
- One thing I have noticed is that Indian people are very content with the things that they have. (I’m not talking about Indian aunties who covet the new sarees bought by the neighbor aunty) Russell Peters once said, that most of the people under the poverty line in the Indian society don’t know what it is to live in a brick and cement made house. Because ancestrally, they have been living in temporary settlements. Being content is bad, because we don’t strive to become like others. Even though the world is developing in all fields such as agriculture, youth, equity, public services delivery, transition economies, labour, infrastructure, health, the environment, risk management, and poverty, we Indians are happy with borrowing things or ideas for that matter. This happens in all levels of the society, household to industrial to inter-country; Be it nuclear weapons or mobile phones, we are always copying what’s being done outside. And it is safely called ‘flourishing trade’. Where is our research? Where are the Indian Nobel prizes? Where are our military submarines and aircraft carriers? Where are our Indian universities in the top rankings of the world? Where is the tagline of a “developed country”? Why isn’t the number of cities increasing, but the number of rapes is? Why is the promise to fulfillment ratio still negative? Why is the frequency of electric power going off and bombs in crowded places going off the same?
- How you define being Indian?
I, Alexander Mathew, am corrupt, I drive rash, I don’t think about consequences, I have values, I have a culture loving, conservative and a very old-fashioned orthodox family, I love making comments about Indian politics even if I don’t know much, and I dream of a wife who looks like Deepika Padukone. I hence, am a normal Indian guy.
After being Indian, you probably think that being from a different state wouldn’t be a problem, because after all it’s the same country right?
I live in a metropolitan, in the north of India but am ancestrally a south Indian. I am a little tall, not that towering though, and am dark and love playing with my beard styles. When I was a child, I underwent a nasty amount of bullying. It continued till age 16. And I always ignored it as the hazard of being pigmentally challenged. And I know that it is not just me. People from south India are all over the world, but still south Indian people in the ‘Aryan land’ are generally looked down upon. Every oily haired, dark skinned, poorly dressed person with an accent in English and grammatically dead Hindi is essentially a ‘madrasi’. It doesn’t matter the guy is from madras or no. it’s not even called madras anymore. But it’s a stereotype. I personally think…that people, essentially from north India, get some immense pleasure in ridiculing south Indians.
I always wished for a way to change how I looked. “If I could become fair in some way; If I could speak Punjabi as fluently as them; If I could abuse as fluently as them.” If I couldn’t hear what they are saying, I wouldn’t feel this bad.
It was a lot of bullying. And I wasn’t okay with it. I’ve never spoken up. Never will anybody. But is exists. And it’s bad. Diversity can be bad. Being a ‘Mathew’ in the land of ‘Singh’s’ can be a nightmare after all.
America thinks that the N-word is the worst racial abuse ever. Ask me Mr. Obama.
Every country has its own problems, be it Iraq which is under attack by the most powerful country in the world, or be it Syria, where its own dictator government is trying to kill its citizens, but all I want for India, is a peaceful life. And some minor things hindering it, and bothering me, are the afore-mentioned things. Or they might not be too. Who really cares? Will I do something about it? Of course not. I wrote a blog post at least. What did you do?
This is not a fight back of any kind (I know it’s not possible), but rather things which just randomly crossed my mind.