I had a happy childhood…
As a defence officer’s kid, I spent my growing years in various cities across the country. Actually, I used to look forward to moving to a new place every three years.
And then college happened. Another learning-frolicking time. Of course there was ragging – in its many inane and harmless forms. And one of the questions that was invariably asked was – “Hey fresher! Where are you from?”
The answer would promptly classify the poor fresher as North Indian, Illad (South Indian), Gulti (Andhra Pradesh), Gujju, Bong…and so on…
Surprisingly, this was the first time in my life I had been typified to belong and behave, as per the norms of the region. Fortunately or unfortunately, growing up in various cities across the country never allowed my tender mind to classify an individual into a regional entity. Thankfully this is where regionalism ended…at least in my college.
As I grew, I gradually learnt that I was lucky. There were colleges that had groups of ‘natives’ and ‘outsiders’; from the state and from ‘India’ and what not. A sour idea of region, religion, caste was slowly being injected into tender minds.
I joined my job in the army and found that no Indian was treated as different from other. But mine was a peculiar job that had to cut across such dividing lines. There was no regionalism in any form. It was a life among Indians with no reference to which part of the country they came from. It actually didn’t matter at all.
I have always wondered why our society has such a divide. It is interesting that the country can unite against a Kasab but fight over a mandir / masjid. How it can allow Indians from all states to contribute to its economic hub, yet complain about people from a certain state? Is there an intense simmering desire to project one’s region as superior to another?
I do not know if I am a minority or majority in caring two hoots about a person’s place of origin…!!!
I wonder if it is the frequent transfers or an education that makes me feel this way. I know that every region has a diverse and rich cultural and linguistic heritage.
Sometimes when I watch the 9 o’clock news, I even wonder if I am right.
My children go to a school where, like most schools, regionalism is neither taught nor encouraged. But so was the case with my school. Perhaps it is the interpretation of learned values tempered by unpleasant experiences that make some people staunch regionalists.
As I said, I do not know whether I am right or wrong.
Till reality dawns on me, I continue to dream of a country where no one gets typified into a region.