Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why Homogeneous,in a Heterogeneous India?

What got me going on this line of thought? Why Homogeneous,in a Heterogeneous India? Two incidents in the space of a few days. One, was a banter with friends over the brilliance of India not having a national language and existence of 26 odd official language (Though only yours truly seemed to see the brilliance :-) and was outnumbered two to one) the other was an article in Times of India Bangalore Homogeneous living. {and now (after i first published this piece) an article in No entry, we are the meat nazis which is more disturbing}

To attempt to make or create homogeneity in a heterogeneous country like ours in a formal or informal way might not  be the best way forward. We live in a time when society seems to be polarising on multiple counts. We could help it along the road or have systemic and conscious steps to reverse the trend.

What ever be the reasons, there are certain denominations that tug hard and can be used to inflame societies at large.Top on the list would be religion, ethnicity, cast, language.. nations have gone to war over these from time immemorial.

when it comes to the language debate in India some of the points used are 
a) national pride and hence a need for a national language - on this count we hear examples of  how countries like France and other European countries take pride in their language - What many refuse to see is that, we are talking about homogeneous socities at least on the count of language and hence easy to have a single national language. 
b) Is the point that majority of the country speaks Hindi and hence it should be the national language - wonder if we used the same logic, would we be alright having a national religion in-spite of us being secular Would that be as easily acceptable - Sure doubt that (Personally do not think of it as a way forward). Further the lot of East India and West India can not be considered Hindi speaking population though their languages could be argued to have similarities. As for South, the native languages have no large similarities with Hindi.

Why do I advocate status quo?? Multiple reasons
a) As a Country we seem to have settled down to this way. 
b) It keeps all ethnic/language satisfied, not one language is declared as a national language and all of the twenty-six have equal standing being the official language. 
c) English has served us well not just being a link language but also has given a significant edge in a fast globalising world.  Further it is in a way equal, that all involved are learning/using a language equally foreign. 
I would even possibly argue a case for a two language theory - One's native tongue and English.

As for the Times article mentioned earlier ( Homogeneous living ) which talks about property developers having blocks or projects exclusively for a given group of people like doctors, Defense personnel, Nair community, a sect of brahmins and so on - which I take as sales pitch and a marketing strategy. It could be working to an extent and might have a few pluses as well. 

Segregating across different denominations, be it on count of religion, cast, language, gender, professions, or what ever else will not give huge dividends to society as it creates lesser understanding of the other. Leading to insecurities, distrust etc and makes us maladjusted to any situation less familiar. The negative fallout are many as can be seen in ghetto-ed communities or groups. To live and operate in silos have rarely been beneficial in the long run,be it schools being exclusive to a gender or religious denomination or promoting of residential societies, organisations exclusive to a narrowed down group

For a society to prosper, it is critical for one to appreciate and see the other point of view and co-exist with differing points of view.One of the ways to make it happen is for all to mingle and co-exist in our social and work life. This would allow for friendships to flower and for people to interact. Such environs is likely to create more understanding and appreciation to differences.

The moot point being any form of segregation or narrowing of our vision is not plausibly the best way forward for a progressive society more so for one as heterogeneous as India. For if one went about segregating and dividing, one would find far too many ways to do so. It is the need of the times we live in to accept our differences, yet not drive deep wedges which would fracture our society.

Our nation's founding father probably had the foresight and hence the fedral and pluralistic structure, which if nurtured well should serve us well.

Ps: Afterthought, if we were do draw a intersection of two sets. Set  A (Who prefer homogeneity in society) and Set B (people who are Homophobic) wonder what the answer would be?


  1. Vow !!! brilliant post.

    Unity in Diversity was our slogan...

    you have wonderfully, pointed out and expressed the strength of our system.

    great going... keep it up....

  2. It is something thats very very thought provoking. Quite an Irony. We still think in terms of Gujju, punju, mallu, maharashtra... Will there ever be a time when we regard ourselves as Indian? I think the increasing amount of inter community weddings are gradually bringing out that change...

  3. true. We don't need to be the same and that would be pretty boring anyway.