Monday, 18 August 2014

Nationality, Race, Creed and More....

Saw this video while having my breakfast today morning, and absolutely loved it. Have a look, and then I will say more.

I like this one for a few reasons. Its factual, not fanatic, it says a few things that are a core part of my being an Indian and then, it is funny. It takes a lot to be able to be respectable, while having a sense of humour about yourself.

As an Indian I feel, we often move loving our country to fanaticism, which often represents a feeling of defensiveness. I used to do that myself and still do.  It has taken me many years of being away from India, to actually start to appreciate it, without feeling inferior or defensive in any way. Each country, each culture is different. There is no 'bad' or 'good', unless we are talking about violence, exploitation or oppression. It takes a mature, open mind to accept and understand that. I for one, don't think most of us are mature enough, and unfortunately have no will to be either.

There are two things I want to say here, the first is about being Indian, and the second is about learning to live outside India with dignity and sensibility.

The first thing I love about this video, is when he says , 'I am an Indian'. Yes, that is what I am, no mater which state I live in, what my mother tongue is or what cuisine I eat, I am an Indian. We need to unite, not divide ourselves. It has been my gripe for years, and still is, that we are too divided to have a united national identity. We still fight about our language, a region and what not, we are still divided by communal forces. Without us truly realising, it leads to undesirable behaviour in our own personal lives, like impolite, unsocial behaviour in social settings. A simple thing like conversing in a language that is not understood or spoken by all, is impolite. We unfortunately feel it gives us a great advantage, or a sense of power to speak in a language that can be 'our secret' code. I remember, when I was still studying, we were a group of 4 friends. 3 of us shared a common mother tongue, and we often very insensitively conversed in it, leaving the the 4th feeling high and dry. Never cared, till one day she just walked out on us abruptly, while we were chatting. And even then it took us a couple of minutes, to realise, why. It was rude and impolite ofcourse, and at the same time, it was alienating a friend. Hopefully I have learnt since then, and try to not repeat that mistake. The PM fortunately is a great influence, who is always insisting on speaking in a common language when in public. Language is a means of communication, we should use it for the same purpose, not as a means to divide us further. I feel it is often, that in our minds we are Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Maharashtrian, Punjabi and such like, which further propagates us to behave in this fashion. When would our identity be, that of an Indian, within India or outside?

I am an Indian, and definitely I am proud of my country. But that is never at the cost of diminishing another. I understand differences, but I don't believe in showing others down.  I have been fortunate, not to have faced any major issues of racial abuse or discrimination. I have however met people who are ignorant, or feel they are superior than me, for some reason. And I attribute that to them as people. When I had newly moved out of India, I was intimidated by such people, especially a few who felt they needed to guide me into becoming an acceptable human being. Then, I was not sure whether that was my social inadequacy, or their attitude, but I know better now. I have also changed since, I understand that India is very very different from the west, culturally, environmentally, socially and more. I don't think either is worse than the other. Both have their pros and cons. So I no longer feel intimidated. Sometimes, I am surprised by people's ignorance or insensitivity, but that is all I attribute it to, not racial behaviour. The world is becoming multicultural, and it takes a while for people to accept that, and understand that. We need to give everyone the space to accept and understand that. India is possibly the fore-runner of a truly multicultural society. For ages, we have had various races, communities and religions come and settle in India, whether by means of war, conquering, as traders or otherwise. It was not easy even then, it has taken all these years for the entire set to be called Indians, rather than basing it on their origins.   I don't go around trying to clear up misconceptions, but I no longer get bogged down by them either. For the number of people I have met, who have grave misconceptions or a lopsided conception of India, I have met many, who have neither. There are those who have accepted me as a peer in the community, appreciated our differences and are friends all the same. And it would be awfully ignorant  of me to dismiss them, or to maintain a biased opinion of any sort myself. I have also in the last few years learnt about the way of life here, and commit less social blunders, that is not to say none, but just less. It is different. I am thankful to the ones, who have ignored my faux pass when I did not know better, because that gave me an opportunity to learn and adapt.  If we, just give ourselves time to learn and understand, rather than judge and dismiss, we are often the ones who have the most to gain. 

By the grace of God, I love being where I am now. I have patience, and understanding about others, I am open to learning, understanding and accepting, while I stay true to my basic principles and beliefs.  I am also happy to find friends and acquaintances who are a joy to be around, and have much for me to learn from,  or to ignore and let go of events that are ignorant or biased, without getting perturbed. And for one while I am an Australian, and I have come to love Australia over the past few years, I still am and always will be a very proud Indian. I am one of the fortunate ones, who can call two great nations her own!

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