Tag Archives: Country

Unity in Diversity, really?

This article remains relevant due to the constant issues in India based on religion, caste etc..

My Thoughts

Well I was in 10th standard when I first heard the term “Unity in Diversity” in my civics class. That was an attempt to teach the kids about the greatness of our country and the different languages and cultures India posses from Jammu to KanyaKumari. It was 15 years ago and when I look back now I feel what have we learnt? We are still fighting based on language, religion, region and what not. So what does that one chapter in the book accomplish?

India is a country with a beautiful history and tradition going thousands of years back. The country is made of 28 states and speaks thousands of languages and dialects with 22 of them being official. Each state in India almost has their language as an official language other than English of course. So the country has lots of divide from various avenues. People eat different, look…

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Music has no language

Recently I heard a Kannada song and got instantly hooked on to the same. Even though I did not understand much in terms of lyrics, the song was so addictive. This brings me to the question that why people put so much emphasis on language. I remember few years back when I was in college here in the US, I happened to go out with a bunch of other south Indian friends. I had just landed in the US, so I happened to have some movie audio cassettes in my mother tongue with me at that time. I took those with me during that trip and since no one had any other options, offered to play them. These were songs from a movie which was popular in all the languages but the guys were completely opposed to playing that cassette. They were ready to listen to the radio but not that song in any other language. The reason given was that they were not able to understand the lyrics and this was a song which was there in their language already. This is just an example and there are people from various languages who despise listening to any song which he/she does not understand.

That was very strange to me. The reason I am calling that strange is that, we hear so many international songs which we don’t understand. Take for example, Ricky Martin’s 1998 world cup soccer song or the “Livin’ la Vida Loca” song after that. Everybody was crazy about those songs at that time but very few actually understood what those songs meant. They enjoyed it because of the rhythm and the music in those songs. I have seen people listening to Spanish songs, how many of us understand or speak Spanish? We are ready to listen to Korean, Arabic, Spanish, German etc but not songs from other Indian languages. Is our so called diversity coming into play here too?

I feel that music is something which is beyond boundaries. I can hear to any song in any language and just appreciate the music and forget about the rest. I know there are lots of them like myself in that regard. India is varied and has different languages. Each language has their own style of music which is enjoyable in terms of their uniqueness. I listen and enjoy any song to which I am exposed to. It can be any language, any meaning I don’t care, if the music is good I will listen. Music has such a quality which brings down the barriers. How do you explain a Hindi song winning the “Best Original Song” at the Oscars? I am sure neither the international audience nor the jury had a clue what the song meant. That’s the power of music, it’s a universal language.

I currently have a CD with me which has Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada songs in them. I have an entire CD with just Hindi songs. Except Hindi the other languages I can understand a little bit when spoken but have no clue what any of those songs mean in the entirety. If I like a song from a language which I don’t understand I make a conscious effort to find out the meaning. In this day and age, technology also helps in bridging the gap as anything and everything is available over the internet. I always appreciate people who post comments on internet such as“The song is beautiful, can someone explain the lyrics please?” That shows that the person is a music lover and is making an effort to try and put meaning to what he is listening.

People in Indian speak about national integration and keep fighting over languages all the time but at least they can keep music out of it. I hope that this does not come out as preaching as it is not meant to be that way. I was just trying to make a simple point about how music can bring people together and we should not block ourselves out of that unity. If we do allow ourselves to enjoy and appreciate music from other Indian languages, we might actually grow to appreciate the varying cultures within our country. We might even see that our country might actually be able to give a meaning to the phrase “Unity in Diversity”, which I feel still exists only in books.

Please leave your thoughts and tell me what you feel about the topic.

Unity in Diversity, really?

India's diversity makes it harder for the people to stay united

India's diversity makes it harder for the people to stay united

Well I was in 10th standard when I first heard the term “Unity in Diversity” in my civics class. That was an attempt to teach the kids about the greatness of our country and the different languages and cultures India posses from Jammu to KanyaKumari. It was 15 years ago and when I look back now I feel what have we learnt? We are still fighting based on language, religion, region and what not. So what does that one chapter in the book accomplish?

India is a country with a beautiful history and tradition going thousands of years back. The country is made of 28 states and speaks thousands of languages and dialects with 22 of them being official. Each state in India almost has their language as an official language other than English of course. So the country has lots of divide from various avenues. People eat different, look different, speak different so there lays a problem.

The problem is that we study so many meaningless stuff about history that we fail to educate the kids about our own country. I can point out so many people coming from the Northern part of India from the current generation who claim themselves educated have no clue of the fact that Southern India posses of 4 different states and speak four different languages. Same can be said about the people from the south India. There are people from India who will actively talk about the current US foreign policies at length without any problem but ask them what language is spoken in Andhra; 70-80% will say Tamil.

That’s the kind of knowledge we provide our future generation about our country’s diverse culture. Politicians of India are notorious in starting up regional divide to further their political agenda and people fall for it. The reason is that unity is not emphasised in schools or at home from our childhood. Just having one chapter in 15-16 years of education isn’t going to help anyone. I am not even sure if that one chapter exists across the nation.

The rigid mentality of the current modern generation is baffling for a country that has made the entire world to take a notice due to its growth. The fact that this mentality is going to be carried forward to the next generation is even scarier. We don’t have to know the language or speak them but we need to learn to respect each other and not degrade based on region. There was one guy who said that he had a bad impression on south India and I was like based on what? He did not even know South India has four states.

A person from South does not want to learn Hindi and the one from other parts of India does not want to embrace the South unless they are forced to. The country cannot move forward with these divides continuing to the future generation. The schools should include more about our country and culture and beauty of it rather than teaching meaningless history. How difficult would it be to include a General knowledge subject to educate the kids about different cultures and traditions of our country? I guess it also becomes a responsibility of present generation that we educate them to break the language barriers and learn to be friends irrespective of what language one speaks.

We need not speak the language but still learn to be friends with a fellow Indian, Isn’t that supposed to be the absolute “Unity in Diversity”? Indians are already divided by religion, caste, region etc; but one thing which can be eliminated is the language divide. I am not saying that everyone has to learn like 20 languages but I am just saying that we don’t use that to discriminate anyone. It should not be a cause for fight between two people. I have friends who speak various languages and I myself speak or understand 5 Indian languages which makes my job easier though. I guess we need to instill respect and love towards fellow Indian irrespective of their cast, religion, region, color etc from childhood. Unless we do that we cannot call ourselves united. I at least hope that the future generation sees a much united India than we are doing today.

To the country I Love

This is my first non cricket article.This article has been long time pending as I wanted to write this since I came back from my visit to India in February. I came to US to do my masters in 2003 and did not go back to India till the end of 2006. When I visited India in December of 2006, I was totally surprised with what I saw there. There was a huge cultural change since I left the country for studies in 2003. For the first time, I felt like an outsider in my own country. The outlook of the people had changed, the use of technology was enormous and the people were moving towards the mechanical life as we see here in America.

Before my visit to India last year I was hoping to meet my friends and relatives after four long years. When I eventually reached there the situation was completely different, No one had much time for me and I actually struggled to meet most of them. This is due to no fault of theirs though as all of them were busy with their hectic schedules. The other noticeable change I observed was the use of mobile phones in India. I have never seen mobile phones put to so much use anywhere as it is done in India. People keep receiving messages from their friends or just some forwarded jokes like every other minute. I was just fascinated by the same.

There are lots of new food chains, similar to what we have in the US and the spending limit of people in city has increased enormously. Couple of times when I was in some stores I was stunned with the ease with which people in India pay bills in thousands of rupees. This is obviously a good sign as it shows that the standard of living at least of the people living in the cities has increased. It was also great to see those huge malls and theaters similar to the ones in the US, where people can come in to watch movies, have food and also do some shopping all under the same roof. Even though the traffic still remained the same or to be frank had increased a little bit with more vehicles on the road and most of the times out of control. The traffic in Bangalore and Hyderabad were the worst and Chennai was just better in comparison.

My observations were only based on the cities I had visited during my stay in India and to be frank I liked what I saw in terms of infrastructure and the different mind set of the people. Even though there has been lots of changes in the last few years (mostly for the good), I still don’t know whether this can be termed as the overall growth of the country in itself. There were lots of things which still remained the same, such as kids running out of their huts when a train passes by. There are lots of people just in Chennai, who have to vacate their huts or houses if there is a cyclone. Kids in India still don’t have their basic necessities. When I was traveling to a temple via train, I was very disturbed to see so many kids who don’t even have proper clothes to wear, who can’t go to school and who don’t get proper food to eat. When I see such things it makes me respect my parents more as it’s because of them I am in a good situation.

I had a great childhood, great education, traveled abroad for studies and currently by god’s grace in a decent job. This is a great gift when you consider there are so many kids in India who don’t even have the basic necessities in life. Most of them have to work to even have some food everyday. When I was looking at these kids during my visit, I just told myself that I need to do something which will bring some change in the life of at least one of them. I told myself that I am lucky to be in this situation and it would be great if I can do something to bring a difference in someone’s life. I came back to US and the first thing I did was to find a trustworthy organization and decided to sponsor a kid for education, food and all other basic necessities. This is my first step towards giving something back to a country which has given me so much. We know that we cannot change the politicians or the government in India but what we can do is to make sure that we contribute in whatever way we can to make life better for these kids.