TODAY -

Diversity's Dilemma: India's Tough Path to National Unity

Kangjam Lanchanba Khuman *



"Why should I need to prove that I am Indian when I am not? According to the people of mainland India, the basic requirements to be considered Indian include being of Aryan descent and speaking fluent Hindi. Despite India's portrayal as a nation celebrating unity in diversity, the reality is marred by discrimination stemming from this diversity.

India, often depicted as a mosaic of cultures, languages, and traditions, is indeed a land of rich diversity. Its tapestry is woven from myriad threads of ethnicity, religion, language, and heritage. However, the promise of unity in diversity remains elusive as India grapples with deep-seated divisions and prejudices.

In an interview with UNLF chairman Pambei Khundongbam, a reporter raised a pertinent question: "While you fight for sovereignty, there are thousands of young people from Manipur and other northeastern states who have gone to the rest of the country, found employment, and settled. They seemed quite okay being Indian.

What do you say to this?" Pambei's response paints a stark picture of the challenges faced by marginalized communities within India. He emphasized the pervasive nature of identity crises, racial abuse, injustice, and exploitation faced by individuals from the Northeast, highlighting the failure of India to provide a safe and inclusive environment for its diverse populace.

He stated, "You may think these people of our region who have gone to find jobs and settled elsewhere in India seemed quite okay with being Indian. But they are not as you think. They may exist individually, but as a people, as a distinct human group, they cannot.

Everyday and everywhere they go they face identity crisis: and have to fight against racial abuse, injustice and exploitation by the racists Indian simply because we are different people having distinct culture and identity."

For centuries, India has struggled to reconcile its diverse identities within the framework of a unified nation-state.

The legacy of colonialism, which imposed a homogenized version of Indian identity, continues to haunt the country, perpetuating divisions along lines of caste, religion, language, and ethnicity. The Indian state's inability to address these divisions effectively has only exacerbated existing tensions, leading to marginalization and alienation of minority communities.

Even Lord Mountbatten, the last Governor General of India, expressed doubts about India's longevity as a nation, asserting that "India cannot exist as a country for 100 years." If the prevailing attitude of superiority among mainland Indians persists, this prophecy may soon materialize.

In essence, the quest for true unity in diversity demands acknowledgment and respect for the unique identities and cultures within India. Only by embracing and celebrating these differences can India truly fulfil its potential as a harmonious and inclusive nation.


* Kangjam Lanchanba Khuman wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at lanchanbakangjam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 04 March 2024 .



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