I read this interesting article by B S Prakash. He is one of the stellar diplomats from India - well educated and has lived in different parts of the globe. Any global traveler would easily realize how the ways of life and cultures are different and unique across countries. Every country and its people have their identities. Whats special about Indian identity? If you think you know about India, that's not entirely true. If you have one good friend in each of 28 states and 7 union territories and lived in at least 4 to 10 of them or more, then I would say, you have a good idea of what India is all about. Mr Prakash explains this as :
"The most useful word to describe Indian identity and reality is 'multi'. We are multi-ethic, multi-religious, multi-linguistic, multi-cultural and any other multi that can be thrown at us. We wear the multidimensional and multi layered identity as a badge."
He has three concepts to explain this "multi"tude of things:
1. oh, the great Indian demography! 1.11 billion people ! To throw in some numbers, 16% of the world population in only 2.4% of the world's land area. Approximately, 4 times the US population in 1/3rd of the area.
World's largest Hindu population (80.5%)
World's second largest Muslim population ( 13.4%)
with Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Jews
72% live in rural small towns and villages. With almost 500 million under 25 (average age of an Indian - 26), it is one of the youngest nations. comprende? What does this mean to the Indian identity? An urban Indian is very different than his friend from small town. He/She can be Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Sikh/Jain/Jew. He/She can speak one or many of the 23 official languages or 200+ unofficial variants of them. Indians identify themselves with one or more of this religions, languages and lifestyle. Every Indian is not a Hindu and speaks Hindi :-)
I still remember I used to write essays about "Unity in Diversity in India". My small town class had kids speaking at least 5 different languages, eating breakfast made in 10 different ways (north-indian style bread, south-indian style idli/dosa, chettinadu style, vegetarian, non-vegetarian, etc), dress up to fancy-dress competitions in 15 different ways (pants, no pants, dhothi, lungi, saree, half-saree, chudidhar, jeans-tees). Well, in college, gals would wear the same saree in 10 different ways depending on where they come from.
Food: Every state and community has its unique cuisine and variety. The so-called "indian" food served in restaurants is a lie!! There is no such thing as indian food, my friends! That's the truth.
Music: mainly North Indian Hindustani and South Indian Carnatic. More: Ghazal , Carnatic, Bhangra, Thappattai
Dance: Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Mohini aattam, Banjara
Festivals and holidays are celebrated by almost everyone. Every festival is an indian festival irrespective of religion and community. Almost every language has its own new year!
There is plenty!
India has 23 billionaires have a combined net worth of $99 billions :-O
Top 10% of income groups earn 33% of the income while 230 million people live below the poverty line. An average Indian makes $500 a year!
When the celebrities enjoy their multi-million dollar weddings, there are millions of brides and grooms waiting for a decent happy occasion. Laksmi Mittal owns the world's most expensive house ($105 million) and spent over $65 million and celebrated the world's most expensive wedding for his daughter.
So, how do you identify an Indian? What do you identify Indians with? How Indians identify themselves? It depends on multiple factors!