No, contrary to what the title may suggest, this is NOT going to be a review of Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel narrating a cross-border love story between a Punjabi boy and Tamilian girl fighting regional bias to unite. I read the book at one go yesterday night and somewhere down the line, I felt like the point he is trying to drive home and some of the clichés he has mentioned are very true even today in Indian society – we Indians, intentionally or unintentionally, have created bias amongst ourselves based on language and geography and this is passed on from generation to generation.
One look around and you’ll know what I mean. Even today, most people in Maharashtra/Gujarat refer to everyone living south of Mumbai as a ‘Madrasi’ who eats idli-dosa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the same time, folks in Andhra/Karnataka/Kerala/Tamil Nadu desist from learning and/or communicating in Hindi and call it “language of North Indians” conveniently forgetting the fact that it is the National Language first.
I don’t even need to remind the case of two desperate political parties in Maharashtra that have been going around creating divide among Mumbaikars by branding residents from “UP-Bihar” as aliens and their typical “North Indians are stealing jobs of Marathi people” rant. And the worst part is, a sizeable cross-section of the society even justifies this state-based division.
Forget about politicians, I found a glaring example of this linguistic bias right here in Blacksburg. Every now and then I hear that there is a “Tamil Potluck”* or “Telugu Potluck” and the likes being organized over the weekend and I didn’t understand what was the point of adding the linguistic condition. This is something that baffled me at first. I had come expecting that here in an alien nation, 15,000km from our motherland, all Indian students would be living as one united group representing the country as a whole. Someone might argue that we ARE united, but the fact remains that our linguistic bias refuses to leave us even here.
Another example- the moment I mention something about a South Indian movie, an army of ardent lovers of these movies will shoot back “Your Hindi movies are no better” as if I own the Hindi film industry. Why can’t we give up this “mine” and “your” and look at it as “our”? Is it that difficult to unite as Indians first? Have we forgotten our history when British took advantage of this very fact and successfully implemented their “Divide and Rule” policy?
It’s high time we realise that above 28 States and scores of languages, we are a part of ONE NATION. Making one billion people realize this is a Herculean task, but someone has to do it. WE have to do it, like Krish and Ananya did. To start off, we probably need to look up to Sardar Patel for inspiration for this. If he could unite 522 princely states to form a single entity called India, we can definitely unite and bring 28 States together and make one UNITED STATES OF INDIA.
* “Potluck” is a dinner party where everyone brings one dish to share.