"Of course we don't eat Chicken. We're pure Brahmins. How can YOU PEOPLE eat non-veg? Chee."
"How come you Don't drink? Are'nt You Catholic?"
"Tum us 'Kaafir' Se nikaah karna chahti ho? Allah ka khauf nahi hai kya?"
"Tum Nepali ho na? Meghalaya se? Haan toh Nepali hi to ho, ek hi baat hai"
"Nice fellow..But he's a non-catholic na?
How many times have we come across such statements? I bet atleast a dozen times each day, whether in our own lives, from people, whether we know them or not, or on television. Have'nt you heard such comments in your school or college classroom, or in street fights, or from your best friend. Our Bollywood blockbusters always have a comical or 'friendly' supporting actor who always happens to be either a proud JAT or a Tamil, or a Muslim, or someone from a particular community, and he or she almost always is shown to proclaim that he's superior to the rest of us, just by virtue or being born in his community. "We're the best, down with the rest" he declares bluntly.
Its nice to be proud of your lineage. Every culture, especially the communities in our country, have a history that goes way back in the past. They have carried the baton of family traditions, way of life, cuisine, music, dances, and other values through the ages. Keeping a culture alive through the ages is no mean task. It definitely makes it worth being proud about.
That many of the traditions practiced then are still practised today goes to show how strong the bind is within the communities. It is these traditions and a sense of belonging and identity that binds members of communities together. It definitely makes it something worth being proud about.
But to proclaim that your lineage makes you superior to the rest is absolutely unacceptable. It is nothing but jingo-communalism. Why is it that people tend to forget that every community has had a history? And why cant people accept that though their communities might have a great heritage, there might be some aspects that are not worthy of being proud about. Every community has its stars and its blots. No doubt we ought to be proud of our cultural heritage, but at the same time we ought to learn how to respect the other's cultural heritage as well.
Our nation is a unique fabric into which pathches of various cultures have been sewn. Each of us are unique, and together we make our national fabric unique. We all together lend our nation an esssence, a fragrance that is so very special and different from any other nation. We are all so diverse and yet we're able to co-exist.
Almost 60 years have passed since we gained independance. But can we really honestly say that we have gained freedom and equality. We have just gained freedom from the British, only to become slaves or our respective Samaaj's and Kaum's. Were'nt those 60 years enough for us to learn to treat everyone else as equal? Why does it so happen that when a person from another state chooses to migrate to another state of his OWN MOTHERLAND for employment, he is frowned upon and sometimes even beaten up or killed for daring to commit such a 'crime'. Sons of the soil they say...does just being born in a particular state make you the owner of the whole state? The British, when they left India, did not break India into too many states, but since they've left, we have kep tearing our national fabric into smaller and smaller pieces, on linguistic, communal, and other such lines. Even today people are identified on the basis of their religion, and within their religions on the basis of caste. It is a 'SIN' to even think of marrying a person from another caste, let alone another religion, no matter how good or mature they both might be or how adjusting they might be. Its already the 21st century, and India seems still frozen in the medieval ages. And we still ask ourselves why we lag behind the other nations?
We ought to change ourselves. Simply assembling together on Independence and Republic Day and announcing "Hum Sab Ek Hain", only to say "Hum JAT hain, tum Madrasi Ho" later on stinks of hypocrisy. We have become a nation of hypocrites. When will we ever look beyond our religions and castes, and other irrelevant differences, and strive to work hand-in-hand for the progress and glory, not of our regions, but of our nation as a whole? How many more nations do we seek to create out of our motherland? When will we stop looking down on our brethren and learn to accept our differences?
The rest of the world has already become cosmoploitan. Look at where USA is today? They too have cultural diversities. People of Italian, Irish, British, African and other origins live together as equals. All have joined hands to work towards a goal, which is not regional but for the nation as a whole. When will we learn and live the same way? It all depends on how we, the new generation choose to take it ahead. The future lies in our hands. We can make or break it.
Only time will tell, if our flag remains a tricolor, or ends up as a color-shade catalogue of a paint company!!