When you walk in to an Indian restaurant, the first thing the waiter would ask you is “Sir, would you like to have North Indian food or South Indian food?”. On a broader perspective, most Indians, if asked to classify Indians by geography, they would say North and South. I come from Maharashtra, which is neither too north, nor too south. So most South Indians think of me as from North and most of them from North consider me a South Indian. But then, from North or South, we are all Indians, and as Nehru said, “India is my country, and all Indians are my brothers and sisters”. National integration has been on the government’s agenda for a number of years, and looking at the ignorance of people about their fellow country-people, I begin to ponder on the its success.
I have myself spent half my life in Maharashtra, and the other half down south, and I know half a dozen Indian languages, and I am very interested in knowing about the lives of people over the country. Just by looking at a person, and his/her name and accent, I can normally very accurately place the person by the state he/she is from. But looking at the sheer ignorance amongst the people, I feel rather surprised. I shall cite some instances which I can recollect, that portrays the same.
The other day, when Bangalore Royal Challengers beat the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL semi-finals, one of my cousins remarked :”The Tamil people will be very happy”. I would expect most people to know that Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu (though Bangalore has a significant Tamilian population too, it ranks nowhere compared to Chennai). I told him the same, and he was like Bangalore and Chennai are close to each other anyway. Some professor from IIT Kanpur had written a guide on how to choose the various courses in IITs. In the guide he mentions this kind of ignorance among the people and says that “According to most of the people up North, anyone who lives below the Vindhyas is a Madrasi”. Perhaps an exaggeration, but it captures the big picture.
I had been to IIT Madras for my counselling a few days back and there, I met this guy from Hyderabad, who asked me where I was from. I said Pune, and he was like that is where IIT Bombay is right? I somehow managed not to laugh, but if a person can clear the IIT-JEE, he must surely be knowing that Mumbai and Pune are different cities!
Ignorance is one part of the story but segregation is another. Often, one finds segregation on basis of regions, not just to north-south, but also by states. Back at my college, the trend is reflected very strongly, and people from a particular state/ region often congregate. There are the Bangies (from Bangalore), the Bongos(Bengal), Matthas(Maharashtra), NK(North of Karnataka), Gults(from Andhra) and many more. The names are kinda funny. Among the North Indian lot, the South Indians are called Sandoos..dunno y. And amongst the people from south, the North Indians are called NIDs( the name was originally devised by the north people for “North Indian Dudes”, but is more popularly expanded to “North Indian Duds 🙂 ”).
Despite all this, the Unity in Diversity is what makes India the country it is, and must continue to exist, so that we can develop to a super-power. Up north, the south Indian scripts may look like rangoli, and down south, Hindi might sound alien, but everyone must take an effort in learning and appreciating each other’s cultures. This should be the way forward for the colourful spectacle that is India.
P.S. Watch Chak de India..It is a great movie