I remember some years ago when a Tamil family had come in the apartment adjacent to ours as tenants. Since it’s my grandmother who has taken the onus of socializing and obtaining the knowhow of anyone and everyone in the neighbourhood and beyond, I asked her about the new neighbours. “Madrasi log hain” she replied. Now, this doesn’t mean they are from Chennai. They can be from anywhere in the Southern India. But we, the North Indians have very conveniently dubbed any south Indian as a Madrasi.
This could have easily passed off in the earlier days. But now, if you are an educated and young individual, you are expected to have some respect for the other person and describe them rightly without any stereotyping. A South Indian is NOT necessarily a Madrasi. A better way would be to call them a Tamil, a Kannada, a Telugu, a Malyali and so on. If you don’t know, accept your ignorance and at least don’t give a generic term for all.
Times have changed, mobility and communication is no longer an issue. The Bengalis are not the paan-chewing, cigarette smoking lot. Biharis have been classically termed as the “Babus”- people having a single-minded aim for public sector jobs with only IAS, IPS, IIT in mind. That isn’t the case anymore. For some people, Lalu is Bihari and Bihari is Lalu. Everywhere in the corporate, they are making their presence felt through their bent towards hard work and not for followers of red-tapism. Mallus continue to form a majority of NRIs working in Gulf countries but there’s more to their list of contributions than just that.
The interesting fact is that a majority of these typecasts come from people who have never been to that place actually or interacted on close terms with those people. Even if you have had bad experiences with a couple of individuals of that category, how wise is it to generalise it and brand everyone from that group with the same iron? False notions are harboured and then continually reinforced on anything going wrong. What kind of attitude is that?
It is important to understand that India, with its plethora of religions, languages, practices, beliefs; has not just been accommodating various cultures in the past but assimilating and welcoming their impact. With the enormous size and diversity existing, stereotyping and typecasting is unavoidable. But instead of looking down at people and alienating them because of a certain prejudice isn’t justified. These differences should be seen as the inevitable outcomes of the geographical, financial and other factors and shouldn’t come in the way of national integrity and harmony. After all nothing explains India better than our deep faith in unity in diversity.