A friend of mine, Ganesh Maharana, raised a question in his blog “when can we be able to FULLY accept differences and diversity?” Thanks Gannu for writing on a topic that actually stimulated my brain to write something.
To be able to write on this topic, I thought of answering this question myself. I mean, I wanted to personally know if I was completely secular and am I able to accept the differences we have in our varied culture. I came to realize that I was not. I am so biased towards my religion and my lifestyle – no I don’t think that my religion is superior or anything. I still believe that God is one and Omnipresent. I have trouble with their lifestyle. Probably, it’s because I have been inculcated with certain set of norms and I’m not ready to be able to question them.
So, my level of tolerance for their religion is high but their customs, it’s not. It does not bother me that a certain Ram Mandir was broken down to construct a certain Mosque and neither does the bringing down of the same Mosque bother me. What bothers me is the number of people being killed using these topics as Political issues. I do not have any problems with a Muslim sitting beside me and eating beef even when I’m a Hindu Brahmin and cow is sacred to me. But yes, I will be hesitant to share my plate of even a vegetarian meal with the same Muslim. This is not only about Muslims that I’m against, but it’s with every other person who shares a separate set of lifestyle than mine.
When I found this answer, I wondered, are we actually proud of unity in diversity or we just use it to lure people to our country and increase tourism. But I guess differences are something that I can cope with. Some 6-7 years back, I came across an NGO in Delhi that worked for the trans-genders. I worked with for a few days and found out that there they had organized a photo show about their life through their eyes. I as a journalist was to cover the event. I went to the most dreaded place in Delhi - Yamuna Pushta (don’t still understand why people are scared of that place). I found them to very sweet people who are good at heart, but are tormented just because they look different.
When I returned back to Mumbai, I showed the project to my Professor and we were discussing on their life and the troubles they face at their work places, etc. One of my classmates stood up and said as matter of factly, that these bloody uneducated bastards are a pain to the society and should be killed. I got so aggressive at the statement that I actually yelled back at her and asked, “Tell me if you would let a Tran-Gender sit beside you in this class without tormenting them. She mellowed down and replied negative. I simply said that if people like us are not ready to accept them and give them education then we don’t have the right to call them names and comment on the way they live.
So, yet I’m unsure on my stand on this particular topic but I sincerely wish I could take a stand for the acceptance of diversity. When will the day come that we will feel proud and not lie about “Unity in Diversity”.