“I would love to learn Indian “, said one of my non-Indian acquaintances in London. Having heard this far too often to be amused by the gross ignorance of the Europeans I knew, whose knowledge about anything outside the EU was phenomenal, I had half a mind to teach this one the most lyrical blasphemy in ‘Indian’.
Like there is no language called ‘Chinese’ there is certainly no Indian. Also we do not have one culture, cuisine or any accepted common feature. The only thing that might actually bring a feeling of oneness is cricket and of course Sachin Tendulkar.
And as lucky as we are to be part of a country brimming with a variety of cultures and tastes, this is also one of the big problems facing India. A country with about 30 different languages, more than 20 local government bodies and various political parties is difficult to govern in the best of situations, but it is even more so in India.
A forced union:
India became India under duress. What was a collection of different princely states with individual identities, came together to fight their usurper, the British Empire. And while the British were in India, there was the common need to get them out of our country. But once the deed of getting the villains out was done, that chord of union began to strain.
When the Brits left, they gave us partition as their parting gift. Although Bangladesh and Pakistan were born as a result of this, India was never ready to let go and even today, millions are reeling under that tearing part of a country that was only freshly formed.
The North South Divide:
Although we are one country, there is a very obvious animosity dividing the northern and southern part of the country. The attitudes and attributes of the North and South Indians are so completely different, that it is easier to find commonalities in our Japanese friends.
And while sometimes it is nice to not have too many common aspects in this case it is not so. The divide is so big that there are so many issues for people migrating from one part of India to another. The most talked about one being the attitude of Maharashtra, a state in the western part of the country.
What the challenge is
The challenge facing the ever increasing populace of the country is that these various differences need to be united under some common aspect. Unlike the United States which has so many commonalities, India still needs to find one all-encompassing unifying factor.
And till that day comes along, we will have constant bursts of states demanding freedom and communities fighting for space. But when that does happen, India will become unstoppable.