I have always been a reader and read everything. If not anything else, I think having the opportunity to read, has made me think more, and while this may sound a little too simplistic, I’m of the firm belief that something that makes you think harder and look deeper can never hurt you. So, here Iam posting about something I read, that incidentally made me think a bit more than usual, and what better way to share my thoughts than on this forum?
Whoever had the time to see my status message on facebook would know that I loved Chetan Bhagat’s 2 states. I have become a fan of his simple writing, situational humour and his sensitivity as an author, but what I really loved about 2 states was how it made me realize a simple fact- I don’t know a thing about a what makes a majority of the people in this country tick culturally! While I laughed at the humour with which he details his struggle to win over his girl friend’s typical tambram family, and the heroine’s struggle to cope with the author’s Punjabi relatives, I was blown away with the intricacies with which he detailed many customs, while taking a dig at many of the prevailing stereotypes.
The one thing I realized was that the situation he was describing was not a one off case, but something we might all find our selves confronting for a myriad situations and for many of us, the first reaction would be to reinforce a particular stereotype we associate with a community. So I came to this enlightening conclusion that I know more about the stereotypes associated with other communities and cultures in India, than I knew about their actual customs, which could have gone a long way in sensitizing me. I normally consider myself to be a fairly broad minded person ( thanks to my family for making me that way) and even have a completely undeserved smugness about it, but I realized that at the end of the day, I could do far better myself. So taking myself as the starting point, I thought about what I could do to be a better person in this regard. The answer that came to me was that it would have been wonderful, if we had had more lessons in our schools about various cultures in our country, it would have reinforced whatever I was taught at home and made me even more sensitive as a person.
So, my conclusion is that cultural education should be made a part of the education reform that is going to take place in this country. Sure we learn about the various languages in the country and the many states and the names of people who occupy them and the topographic diversity; we also learn about kings and rulers, and conquests and battles, but I think we left the actual people somewhere inbetween. We are a part of a generation that is younger and more and more connected. This blog is a perfect example of that. One of the best ways to ensure that we don’t spoil this golden chance is to have an opportunity to know more about one another, and what better way to start than with the little ones.
My suggestion is very simple. Along with maths and English, lets teach them about customs and traditions from other parts of the country formally and reinforce them informally. I do know that many schools do much informal reinforcement, but nothing works like a solid book because there’s no better proof for the oft repeated cliché “unity in diversity”. When children develop a healthy respect for others, it bodes well for us all. Let me end this post on that happy and hopeful note!