The Hidden Division

India is, of course, very diverse and that diversity itself is its greatest treasure. One can see mosques and temples standing majestically side-by-side, forcefully reminding us all about the splendid land of religious unity that is India. Leaders and achievers of all religions, castes and cultures, irrespective of minority or majority can be seen in every field. It’s always a proud feeling when we recollect how many incidences of unity and peace have taken place in a country of so many dissimilar people. But though we may bask in the sunshine of such beautiful and glorious moments, let’s not forget the shadows on the other side either. Apart from certain isolated, unfortunate events, there is still a hidden division, almost invisible in the eyes of many people, deeply rooted in the heart of the society. A division that is not often recognized and publicized by the media.

There are so many aspects based on which people can be discriminated against – language, color, race, sex, social & financial background, religion, caste, etc. North - South, North - Northeast, Tamil - Marathi, Hindu - Muslim, Higher caste - Lower caste, Black – White… the list full of all combinations is endless. This endless list of pairs of differences is silently dividing our society and as a result, destroying the peace around us.

How many times have you heard people say, “No wonder!? He is a ____!” or something like, “These ____ are always like this!” or maybe even, “Is he a ____?” [I’ve used ‘he’ only for convenience. It refers to both the genders]. Fill up the ‘____’s with any caste, religion or any other such distinctions. There is this evil deeply embedded in the soils of society. People have gone into the idea of generalizing others on discriminatory basis and it's pretty problematic when such people are in high, administrative jobs or even those jobs were you get to judge a lot of people [like HR management, judiciary, etc.]

Religions and castes are not really the only basis of unfair judgment. There are others like language and even which part of India you come from which affect the way people look at you. Not being able to speak English might give you a very 'illiterate' impression on others, even if you have got a doctorate of philosophy in some field. The same way, try telling someone in Karnataka that you are from Tamil Nadu. The way (s)he would start looking at you, you'll know what they are thinking even before they intend to show it. The prejudice is sometimes because of repeated events involving members of a certain community or culture. But in my honest opinion, prejudice in any form, when it comes to selection or judgment, is hazardous to the welfare of the society, as a whole.

This hidden division is also a major hindrance to the development of good politics in the country. What is it that people really vote for? The politicians [many of them] have few impressive educational qualifications and fewer are really achievers in their fields. The real basis on which people select the policy-makers of our country, is the community they belong to. "What caste is he? A ______? Well, then he'll surely get votes in _______ constituency!", "Let's vote for him! He does a lot to the ______'s!", etc. are some statements I've heard the people around me say, when they are talking about which candidate to give their votes to. Many vote, with the caste/religion of a person in mind... not his efficiency of a leader or that of an administrator or that of a social worker.

Then there is the usual discrimination between girls and boys. Of course, it's in a bit of a confused state at the present, so I'll leave it for another day. For now, all we can say is this: When people in India start to see each other as fellow countrymen, instead of seeking their race, caste, religion, creed, language, etc., that day, we can say that the hidden division in the society is no more. Till then, this invisible serpent will keep raising its hood dangerously in all aspects of our Indian life.


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