"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." - Forest Gump

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The name's 'Pande' not 'Pandey'

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 Posted by Unknown , , , , , , , , 1 comment

Recently a student named Nido Tania (19 years old) from Arunachal Pradesh died in the heart & soul of India, at Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi. And why? - because he had different hair colour than everybody else did. And I'm just getting started.

Nido Tania, 19

It's shame that India and its citizens, even after 65 years of independence, have not accepted Northeastern people as a part of this country. Those same Northeasterners who have fought the mighty China & Pakistan shrugging shoulders along with the rest of the Indians. It's a shame that India and its citizens call Northeasterners a 'Chinese'. Let me make it clear here that there is nothing wrong with being a 'Chinese'. But calling our very own people 'Chinese' -- meaning not Indians, hurts. It hurts to all those who live in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh & other Northeastern states. And it hurts me. I know I'm not Northeasterner & I can't possibly imagine what it must feel like being discriminated against.

But wait a minute -- I do know how does it feels to be discriminated against in your own country.

I was in Mumbai or so called the 'city of dreams' for a while. And let me be honest, it was best time & the worst time of my life. Best because I was enjoying the freedom that was bestowed upon me by this great city. And worst because at every step, I felt discriminated. Now you must be wondering why? Read the title again. Yes, I think you got it. At every step, I was being asked whether I was 'Pandey' as in 'Chulbul Pandey' and whether i'm from Bihar or UP. Every time I replied with these questions -- why? Why does it matter if it's Pandey or Pande? What's going to happen to me if I say 'Yes', I'm from Bihar or UP? What's going to happen if I say 'No'? How does my being Pandey or Pande change our relationship? Am I going to get any special treatment if I am from Bihar or UP?

Hate crimes, xenophobia or racism - you can give any name to it you want, but the basic fact is people are being discriminated against only because they belong from different part of the country. But the real question is why?

There are many reasons for people being discriminated against because of their - looks, gender, origin, language, but the basic reason behind it is -- fear of 'Unknown'. By 'Unknown' I mean -- lack of knowledge of something or someone. People are discriminated against  just because society does not know them or simply not aware about them. May be because many people migrate from other parts of the country we never have been to. Now here, it's important to understand why people migrate in the first place.

People migrate for two reasons. Firstly, they may wish to get away from the things that they do not like. These are called push factors and include:-

  • not enough and poorly paid jobs
  • old and poor quality houses
  • natural disasters - earthquakes, volcanoes, wars
  • few opportunities - shopping centers, cinema, food, schools, hospitals
  • poor transport

Secondly, people are attracted to the things that they do like. These are called pull factors and include:-

  • more and better paid jobs
  • new and good quality houses
  • better education - more opportunities
  • improved medical care
  • better transport

Now here, it's important to note that in the constitution of India, India is referred to as 'Union of states' rather than 'federation of states'. This is because Indian constitution is a mixture of both -- Federal and Unitary government. The reason why I'm mentioning this is that the Indian constitution follows the principle of 'Single citizenship'. It means India doesn't have a separate constitution for center and state governments. In other words, It means our constitution is supreme and every Indian has a right to move around the entire country without any problem.

Now the same benign migration, which by the way is nothing new, but you know that by now, has been given a heinous turn. Over the past few years, some politicians including -- the one who was too cool to stay in 'Sena' & went on to form his own 'Sena' -- have been vocally against such migration. It's such a shame that a fellow Indian has turned against another fellow Indian because of such politicians. Remember when we were all kids and we used to pledge something like this,

“India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage. I shall strive to be worthy of it. I shall respect my parents, teachers and all elders and treat everyone with courtesy. To my country and all my people, I pledge my devotion. In their well being and prosperity alone lies my happiness.”

Remember we used to call our fellow Indians as 'brothers' and 'sisters' and not 'Bhaiya'?
Look at us. What happened? What's changed?

What happened was some politicians turned us against our very own just because they were 'different' for their own purposes. It's such a shame that we couldn't even realize when it happened. It's such a shame that not a single person walked out on these demagogues & greedy politicians. Not a single person stood for what was the right thing to do. And because of what we didn't do we have lost a young boy,Nindo, who could have done a great service to our country. As I always say,

"We are responsible for happening or not happening of something and everything."

Just because we failed to understand these 'Unknown' people, today, we have lost Nido. And it's such a shame that a bright student had to die to make us realize our mistake. What mistake you ask? Let’s look it up in our Constitution.

In our constitution, we have a preamble, 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules. Our preamble contains brief summary of our entire written constitution. Preamble reads,

"WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;and to promote among them allFRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION."

See? Our very own preamble clearly says that 'We' have a right to equality of opportunity (articles 14-18). It says that we are supposed to treat each other as brothers & sisters & assure the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation. So what if Nindo went to Delhi for further education. So what if I went to Mumbai for employment opportunities. So what if 'Bhaiyas' of Bihar or UP came to Mumbai or Delhi for employment or education.  Where did I go wrong? Where did 'Bhaiyas' went wrong? And where did Nindo went wrong? What was Nido's fault that he had to be beaten up so bad that he died?

It's times like these that we have to step back & see what we have given to our society. It's times like these that we have to look in the mirror & identify the 'devil'. It's times like these that we end the fear of 'Unknown' by simply educating the masses about our culture. It's times like these we should arrange cross-cultural programs throughout the country on a larger scale. It’s times like these we have to come to terms that India’s political and constitutional structure is pluralistic. Its citizens must internalise the idea that we are a nation of diverse groups of people who need not necessarily resemble one another. Come on, we can do this. It's India we are talking about. The Same country which was supposed to fail because of religious and cultural diversity. But we didn't fail. We succeeded. We succeeded against Polio which killed my 15 year old sister. And we can do it one more time. We can end Racism if we want to. But it's true what they say,

"First step in solving any problem, is recognizing there is one."

Let's accept that we have a problem and start working on solving it. We can & we will end Racism.

Jai Hind
Jai Bharat

Written by Rishikesh Pande

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