by Diya Barmecha
What does it mean to be Indian? What does it feel like to be a part of a country? To be a citizen of a country? To belong somewhere? How do we give back to our country? With respect? With integrity? With love?
The world has progressed and we have been exposed to diverse cultures. Slowly but surely, many are losing touch with Indian culture. India being a country driven by its cultural aspects is slowly turning into something unrecognizable. With foreigin influences and culture being introduced into the world and being considered “cool”,many have stopped giving importance to Indian culture. Almost everyone would rather talk in english or other foreign languages than Hindi because it is “cooler”. But who defines “cool”? Who gives the “cool” tag? Studying in an international school doesn’t change the fact that we are situated in India. That our homes are in India and our lives are in India!
It hurts me inside when I see many kids in our school unable to count beyond the number 20 in their native language. When someone asks an Indian where they are from, Originally, they would proudly state their region and know their native language. Nowadays, knowing Hindi is good enough and people feel that it is not necessary to know their native language and culture. Each state in India or even each village has a different culture and away things work. In times like this, we are ignoring our actual and specific heritage. Studying in an International Board school, we get so excited and act like we are so much better than those people in the government schools. But diversity comes in all shapes. Not only religion, but also status. Have you ever stopped to think that there is diversity everywhere we go, every person around us is from another region, another culture. Being Indian is what brings us together. Being someone from Gujarat, Punjab or Maharashtra makes them apart… although it is only to come closer together.
Traditions and rituals like living in a joint family with generations of your family helps build a close connection with all of them. Relationships with family have been replaced by friendships. Instead of working hard to maintain a close connection with our grandparents and our extended family. We would rather play a popularity game in school. Which in the end, is probably going to end up making us feel worse about ourselves or make us doubt ourselves. Instead of feeling special with our family we would rather work hard on our social image and its impact on what others think of us. The mentality of everything being fine because we have family on our side is long gone. We are at a time where staying with our joint family is uncool and staying with your significant other is cool. A time where having a dog or cat is cool and even an idea of having a cow is rustic. A time where January first is our only new year and not Diwali. We are at a time where sneaking away from family and disrespecting their wishes is cool and fun. Rather than having a healthy relationship with them. This is a time where we are all happy and cool. Don’t you think we have satisfied our egos enough? Isn’t it time to give back to our society? Give back to a country that has given us everything?
The future of India is in our hands. The way we see India and the way we see our country will define what the new generation will see the country as. As modern approaches have taken over, being Indian is just for formality. It’s just so that we belong somewhere. However, being Indian is way more than that. It’s traditions, cultural festivities, religion and the sense of togetherness that truly brings us together. When traveling to another country and speaking in hindi or seeing someone of their caste speaking hindi gives me happiness because it shows respect and love for this nation. Which is way more than what we are doing. Just a few weeks ago a festival called Makar Sankranti went by. It is a big festival in India where everyone goes out to fly kites to mark the end of winter and beginning of spring in our country, bringing joy for the farmers of getting new crops. From now on the days will be longer than the nights. This is a celebratory moment for us. However, as the days went by and no one gave importance to this day. Hardly anyone went on the street and flew kites. Hardly anyone knows what these festivals are. We call ourselves Indian but what makes us Indian.
For me being an Indian is my identity. It shapes my values and how I look at the world. When travelling I’m not looking to compare my country to that of anyone else’s, I instead choose to look how unconnected they are, how little culture they have, how less society oriented they are.
I see India as something I never want to lose.