Continuing from where I left off in the previous post, one must now learn how to deal with the abnormal. In the geographical context, our cultures and traditions are very different from one part of the world to the other. But, in most parts of the world, there is a great respect given to one’s own culture whatever being part of that culture means.
When I say this, it is very important to understand that certain cultures might be seen as highly offensive and morally inappropriate in the light of certain others. As a result, people with narrow or closed vision tend to believe that these people with a cultural difference are the abnormal kind. This can mean trouble in present days. We are in an age where a large number of people migrate from one city to another, from our rural settlements to urban, or from our own country to a far more developed country. People do this for better education, better career prospects, or sometimes, to avoid persecution of any kind in their own lands.
A highly intolerant population might find it difficult to bear the influx of such people into our cities. As our cities tend to be more and more cosmopolitan, we might be coaxed into believing that there are no such cases of intolerance, and that people have learned to live with one another without racial or regional prejudices. However, a scan of news items in the newspapers of late would open our eyes to the great oppression shown to certain minorities.
Recently, during a casual discussion on the business environment in India with some friends from abroad, the question came up as to how they could tap the Indian market for an upcoming venture they were planning. A lot of opinions were shared. But, my own opinion was that looking at India and approaching it as a single market would be an oversight which one would pay for. India despite being rich and diverse in its cultures along the length and breadth, is still a collection of several states. And each State – to be very honest – works like a different country. People from one state to the other differ in their ideas, opinions, cultures, traditions, etc. Even as I spoke about it to my audience, I was not really thinking about it in any other sense than in terms of the business and economy. But now, I feel that when people of one state migrate to another, it is in no way different from migrating to another country whereby we put ourselves to the risk of being persecuted and abused.
Cities, I often thought, could be an answer, a binding factor in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country. The diversity and cosmopolitanism of our cities is a great virtue. People tend to forget cultural differences in our cities, or so I thought. If we cannot tolerate diversity in our cities, we cannot claim to be such a diverse country as we claim we are.
Let us now face the facts. Their culture is as important to them, as ours is to us. The way they wear their clothes is the only way of doing it that they have ever known. The religion they follow represents their faith however quaint it might seem to us. To respect their way of doing things, is to respect our way of doing things. Look at it this way. All these different cultures are flowers of different colours. It is only when we have more varieties of these flowers that the resulting garden looks most beautiful.
Let us learn to love our neighbours. Let us learn to respect the different, diverse cultures of our fellow countrymen. All of them are gems or flowers of varying genesis. But they are gems or flowers nevertheless. And they contribute to the beauty of this nation. Hating them for whatever reason is tantamount to hating the entire mankind.
I was greatly disturbed seeing a recent news item about people of certain geographies leaving our cities fearing attacks on them. Let us grow up and grow together. We have come a long way from the 1940s. Let us not go back to that age.
Good Day! Good Night!