A talk by the eminent journalist Shekhar Gupta in my college, today, gave me enough food for thought to wonder about whose India is it anyway? Does it belong to the majority? If yes, then majority in what sense of the term? The religious majority, the Hindus, or the linguistic majority, Hindi? Or does it belong to the minority, as some people complain about undue advantage of reservations to the minorities? Does India belong to the middle class, lower class, or the upper class?
Ours is the most diverse country in terms of religion, language, geographical features, attire and food. A distance of a staggering 3000 kilometres between the states of Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh, and almost the same distance between Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu has given birth to some challenges. There are some Indians (at least they call themselves so), who do not know whether Manipur lies in India, there are still others who call think that Biharis aren’t as equal as them, and still others who do not accept that Hindi isn’t the mother tongue of all. There are some who can’t accept that the Indian constitution allows their servants to stand in the same queue as them to vote during polls, and some who think it is wrong to eat on the same table as a Muslim. Still others think that their state isn’t supposed to be occupied by “outsiders”, even though our constitution has no problem with that. There are many who long to be back in their homelands but are unable to, because they fear they are no longer welcome. There are deep and incisive divisions in a seemingly united Hinduism. There is no dearth of instances in which Dalits were denied entry to temples. These seemingly non-existing incidents have their roots in the deep social divide, not on one front, but on innumerable fronts, encompassing ethnicity, language, colour, caste, birthplace, gender and religious beliefs.
These incidents paint a bleak picture of the idea of India.
However, not all hope is lost. The idea of India is still in the making.
The various forms of social media, both electronic and print are active like never before. Ideas are being shared and dissent being registered. Efforts are being made, both on the part of the state and the people, to bridge the class and class divide. And the effect of such efforts is visible to some extent. As Shekhar Gupta observes, the fact that a man who had never held a job in Delhi, with humble backgrounds, and no political inheritance made it to the helm of the nation, is an achievement for India itself. Our president Mr. Pranab mukherjee may speak English in a Bengali accent, our Prime Minister may do so in the Gujarati accent; this difference doesn’t imply a problem, but a re-enforcement of our diversity.
The essence of this process lies in tolerance and acceptance. It also lies in accepting India’s imperfections in social, political terms as a natural culmination of what we really are. It is equivalent to saying that the protests and dharnas aren’t impediments to the process of democracy; they are nothing but ways of re-enforcing the Indian democracy.
As Shekhar Gupta rightly pointed out, our constitution makers gave us a right constitution, but a wrong slogan. He observes that instead of “Unity in Diversity”, it must be “Celebrate Diversity”. However, unless we accept diversity, we cannot celebrate it, let alone unite. Hence India doesn’t belong to one person. It simply belongs to the diversity.
Poorva is a first year Economics student at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi. She keeps herself abreast of all the current affairs and holds a firm opinion about everything happening around her. She deems all forms of expression, be it acting, painting or writing, as a gift to the mankind. She is also involved in social service through two of her college societies, Enactus and NSS. She can be contacted at :[email protected]“
Edited by Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist