Enough of Playing Victim Card in the Name of Language, End This Divide Now

With the number of states, cities and villages in India, it is difficult to map the usage of any language, especially now in this well-connected world of opportunities. Furthermore, it is an uphill task to categorize all the dialects and local slangs into one single language. We identify ourselves an ‘Indian’ to anyone in foreign land instead of referring to each state, like how anyone from USA does, where people refer to themselves as ‘hail from Chicago’, ‘Washington’ and so on.

India, from its independence has created states but the culture and languages have traversed across the state borders. A Punjabi is aware of way of life in Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh has lot of similarities in Meghalaya culture, Gujarat and Rajasthan share a lot more than just their borders, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala have many similarities in their languages and traditions.

My own life so far has traversed from Jharkhand, Bengal, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and finally now to Tamil Nadu, wherein I have spent good enough time. I am well versed in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil. By origin, I am a Bengali. In my experience, so far, I have had initial issues being in a new place, but then, I wanted to learn the new language for my own comfort.

Learning Hindi in school initially was a challenge as my family conversed in Bengali at home unlike my friends in Jharkhand school. Poking friends, misinterpretations of words were a daily routine. But that didn’t stop me and I fared well in this subject and even now am pretty much eloquent. I even went further and added Sanskrit as my third language.

Moving to my college days in Bengal, right from the first day of ragging to our farewell, I was considered the girl who spoke ‘weird’ Bengali. Nevertheless, I was not disheartened because by now I had realized that when people find something new, they tend to dislike. I knew I had been true in my efforts and that confidence helped me learn and write a letter in Bengali to my parents, whose joy knew no bounds!!!

I wondered people rarely spare their fellow state/culture/language citizen from the bouts of discrimination and discouragement, then to what extent can they go to criticize those who come from other states or other half of the country.

Coming to the professional training days in Karnataka and Andhra, I realized how the idea of forming your own gang was taken to the levels of ‘which half of the country you come from -primarily North or South’ , followed by which state you come from , like Kerala or Andhra or Maharashtra or Rajasthan, then followed by which cities you are from – Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata etc. The point here is, majority of our people who have been born and brought up in one place tend to stick to their comfort zone. No harm in that, as long as you don’t start judging someone else’s comfort zone.

Next in my life was my workplace. To my utter surprise, the main language of communication in work was ‘Tamil’. Nonetheless, same happens in other corporates in Pune, Noida, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and so on and so forth where the local language takes precedence over English. So, the very idea that you need to know the so-called global language ‘English’ does not hold good enough. One can survive and many cases succeed without having spoken a correct phrase in English unless of course if you have sweet American dreams.

In south, we have seen accusations on ‘North Indians’ not trying to learn any South Indian language and not being appreciative of the culture– this is true for many cases. People with such mindset, when they step out of their homes, they know only how to criticize. Mind you, this behavior is not just restricted to any region, even south/west/east or any direction people who are not open to changes, tend to be rude like this when they step out of their comfort zone. Such a person, for example when they come to Bengal will complain of the mustard oil, how Bengali’s only eat fish, how their pronunciation sounds different (they don’t spare President Pranab Mukherjee too).

Also, in such scenarios, just one side is never the victim always. If the southern state is tired of the tyrant North Indians, then on the other hand there are amiable North Indians tired of being over-judged and considered tradition less.

This North-South divide needs to be a thing of the past. Why do we fail to see the efforts of the other kind of North Indians who have complete respect for the people and customs here in South? And Why do the North Indians consider the people here to be only involved with academics and gold and coconut? There is more to each side.

• There are north Indians who try to bargain with an Auto driver/shop keeper in South Indian language in many cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad. There are many South Indians who can converse in Hindi.
• There are North Indians who have respect for the festivals celebrated here and South Indians who equally enjoy north festivals
• There are South Indians who have literally formed colonies in some East and North Indian states. Same goes for the North Indians who have made permanent homes down south.
• There are South Indians who relish Punjabi cuisines and there are North Indians who enjoy the local cuisine in their daily workplace.
• There are many north Indians who go and enjoy south Indian movies in theaters!!! And there are followers of Marathi, Bengali and Hindi movies in South as well.

If someone has not seen any of the above, they have not seen it all. And if they have not seen it all, they have no right to come out and spread their narrow and one-sided experiences.

Of late, I have seen numerous posts of how some languages should not be allowed in some states. Especially some comedian who is offended by Lungi dance!!! Seriously??? On a funny note, you can run your show on this but how could you try and create a controversy out of your inception of the song?

Never saw you coming out when popular shows like Big Bang Theory and Mindy Project, have shown Indians in low light and especially the character “Rajesh Kuthrapaali” from Big Bang Theory? Or is it ok to accept humor from abroad is it? This comedian goes to run shows, making money by showing Indians in low light- and moreover where are these shows held – US, UK etc. This guy is ok sucking up to British who have dictated torturous rule over India. But he cannot tolerate Lungi dance. Got the point.

Kindly note, in most of the Tamil movies, we have the villain hailing from Bihar, Bombay, Bengal or Punjab. No typecasting, here, is it?

Some questions to people who supported this comedian and have taken it seriously :

• By bringing down another language, is this the only way to flourish yours?
• Did you go to a Convent or a state run school?
• Will you be sending your kids to a regional board school?
• To all the NRI’s, will you be sending your kids back to India for your language passion?
• There are people like me who have faced discrimination even after putting a constant effort to pick the state languages, culture. Any thoughts on them?

Some friction of customs, languages is obvious in a diverse country like India. Any State needs to be compassionate to people who come from across the country and these migrating people need to be respectful towards the new place which has given them opportunities. No language rules can be pushed down with force. It’s an open mind acceptance which is needed.