Sunday, June 14, 2009

land of opposites

If one wants to see the phrase "two sides of every coin" applied to every single aspect of daily life in its physical, psychological and mental state, India is the place to be. It is a country built on contradictory facets - a vast land of opposites exemplified everywhere and anywhere. First all, the socioeconomic classes have a disparity of unfathomable proportions, where 200-300 millions live on $2-3 bucks a day, and others the likes of doctors and teachers make about $1000-2500 a month. As the people of the nation, indians constantly flout nationalism and patriotism as "bharat maata" or are quick to quote the achievements of indians in the world, but at the same time, especially in the younger generation, they desperately look for foreign countries to emigrate to and establish a new lifestyle. Indians remark about how the whole world can learn things from its culture and way of living and how it should be on any travelers itenerary, and simultaneously the older generation and village folks tend to be xenophobic, especially towards the "firangiis" , or the white people.
Food is also divided into categories, with non vegetarian food considered unholy or less pure than vegetarian food, in which there are further sub classes - vegetabkes like garlic and onion are denounced by various religious sects and given up during times of religious ceremonies. Work is categorized as in manual labor is considered lower in respect in comparison to non-manual or clerical work. Indians are most known for their academic performances, and indeed every parent is quick to go off in raves and rants about their child's talents and skills, and the media even perpetrates a sense of glorification for the students who achieve high scores on even the most menial of tests, while India ranks #1 in teenage and student suicides, due to the ridiculously high expectations, both domestically and socially.
But the most recent event that urged me to ponder on the duality of indians is the wave of "attacks" on indian student diaspora in australia; first of all, the attacks have been sensationalized by the media and manipulated, as these were not all racist attacks, as the motive has been money or other tangibles in most cases,and the perpetrators did not yell racist remarks in all of them. They were just the usual criminals that have previously attacked australians too, irrespective of their ethnicity. So it was just a case of usual robbery or stabbing and it happened to be an indian. Secondly, indians are some of the most racist and segregated people on earth; look at all the advertisements everywher for a brighter, whiter skin - thats is the definition of racism; north indians outrageously prefer a fair skin or complexion and there are numerous products to do exactly that, however unproven their efficacy is. And india is constantly plagued by riots in one state or another over contempt for people from another state - imagine that! recently maharashtra was the scene of such event wher people belonging to a extreme right wing group proceded to beat up people from the northern state of bihar on accounts of job hoarding and state "patriotism". Sikhs from punjab have a history of being unfriendly to other indian diasporas; and the "south indians" like tamils claim to be the real, true descendants of ancestors of india. The list can go on and on about divisiveness within the indian community, so instead of being quick to label others and pointing fingers, Indians really need to learn to examine themselves, and understand their own nation and the people, before defaming or attacking other nations. Critical thinking, once again, needs to be bred amongst indians.

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