After the debatable formation of the Telegana, India currently comprises 29 states, spanning at an area of 3,287,590 sq. km. with a population of 1,270,272,105 (1.27 billion). Such is the diversity of this nation that on official count there are 22 dialects spoken and six major religions preached.
As of 2011 census, almost 80% of India’s population practices Hinduism followed by Islam (a merely 13%) with others sharing far lesser percentages. Among the states, Uttar Pradesh has the largest population of 199,581,477 (0.19 billion) followed by Maharashtra.
However, in the midst of all these numerals, what defines an individual? His or her religion or place of birth or belonging? The above displayed figures depict the enormity and complexity required to define an INDIAN. What am I? An Islamic or a Bengali, or say a Hindu or an Assamese. We often confuse these two distinct identities which generally should be separate but in the longer run merge together.
Christmas celebrations unite the Christians whereas Kings XI of IPL unites the mighty Punjabis. It is great to see people coming together for a common cause. Holi is a festival for Hindus , but all over India everyone, everywhere takes participates in the festival actively. The variety of colours obliterates the rift created by religion (even though for a very short period of time). In any metropolitan city, an IT company has employees from Kashmir, Chennai and Haryana working hard and partying harder – together.
This unity is something we have to be proud about; however, it is also the same lines that causes us to divide – Muzzafarnagar riots pits Hindus against Islams. In another instance, the MNS party created havoc in Maharashtra against working people from UP and Bihar. What saddens me is the fact that during times of crisis, the same Abdul Chacha who was living in the chawl somewhere in Gujarat with his Hindu neighbours has to gather his belongings and escape while his house is set on fire. Bhola, a rickshaw puller is brutally beaten up only because he thought Mumbai was a place where he could earn a better living rather than his native place in Bihar.
Today, if corruption is the most important issue, communalism is not far behind. Political parties preach about all of us being united but devise separate strategies to enrich their minority vote banks. We allow diversifications to create a rift between us, instead of converting this characteristic into our core strength. As we are approaching the 16th Lok Sabha election in 2014 regional and religion-al unity is the need of the hour.
Recall the scene from Chak De India where coach Kabir Khan asks each of his players to introduce themselves. All of them except Vidya, the captain introduces themselves as players from a certain region. The message was clear, you may be from any part of India preaching any religion but when we are united, we are one.
Let these 29 states and 6 religions define us – defines us as one part.
The key is not to “Divide and Rule” but “Unite and Win”.
In the end again, Who am I? An Islamic or a Bengali? A Hindu or an Assamese? Just an Indian I believe!