Friday, November 18, 2011

A Case of Belonging

Belong – the dictionary meaning of this word as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

a.To be in an appropriate situation or environment
b.To be a member of a group, such as a club
c.To fit into a group naturally
d.To be a part of something else

Going by the recent political developments where migrant laborers are being threatened to leave Mumbai, non-Assamese speakers are being persecuted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh on the verge of being divided into three based on the linguistic and cultural roots of the people, Uttar Pradesh into four by a ‘politically astute’ chief minister and if I spread my circle a little, then the targeting of Indian Sikhs in the US, UK and attacks on Indians in Australia, I wondered how does a person prove if he belongs to a particular place, thing, group or does someone really need to prove his sense of belonging?

I’ll start with my own example, I was born a Bengali (although I’ve never lived in West Bengal or for that matter, even Bangladesh :P), raised in Meerut (which is the heartland of Western UP, proper bhaiyya-land according to some, home of dreaded criminals to others), did my masters in Susegaad land…Goa (though I haven’t picked up a word of Konkani), started my first job in Bangalore (I don’t care if its called Bengaluru now), my job took me to West Bengal (Kolkata, Burdwan, Durgapur and myriad villages in between), Orissa (Bhubaneswar, Cuttack) and then Chhatisgarh (Raipur, Bilaspur). I switched jobs and came to Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad) and currently am on a short term deputation to Maharashtra (Pune). So where do I belong, or more importantly to what do I belong? I don’t really have an answer to that and I don’t even want to find one.

I fail to understand when people comment that “X group of people have come to MY state and taken away MY people’s jobs, MY people’s education and MY land, MY right”. Isn’t freedom of movement for better education, better prospects one of the founding pillars of any free country (which I assume ours is)

If this is not the case, then a lot of pan-India institutions should be clamped down, I want to name some of them –

a.IITs, IIMs, NITs and all other educational institutions which admit students on the basis of their merit and not on basis of their state domicile

b.AIIMS, AFMC, CMC Vellore where world class doctors are made because of their sheer hard work and not because they were from that state

c.Armed Forces because a soldier is neither selected by his state, nor is he fighting for a state but for the country

d.All national-sports teams, because the players are not there because of their state domicile but because of their talent

e.All private corporations, because they choose to employ people based on skillsets rather than the domicile of the state in which the unit has been set-up

That presents a pretty silo-like picture, one where there would be a total breakdown of the national fabric, sovereignty, economic growth and freedom of speech which the so-called ‘sons of the soil…protectors of state culture, heritage and blah blah’ exercise so very well.

So next time someone tells you that you are not from his state, or that ‘aliens’, ‘external people’, ‘outsiders’ have dirtied his state, taken away his jobs and robbed him of an opportunity to make his life better ask him if he really thinks he would have been where he is today without a lot of silent factors working like a clock-work?

And if someone still has an issue with that and says that ‘aliens’, ‘external people’, ‘outsiders’ have dirtied his state, taken away his jobs and robbed him of an opportunity to make his life better, well then fine enough, I won’t come to YOUR state but then please don’t sit in All-India competitive exams (it’s not YOUR state exam), don’t apply to any MNC, Indian-MNC (they are not YOUR state-owned companies), don’t consume medicines when you are ill (they are also not divided on YOUR state basis), don’t and definitely do not apply for a US/UK/Canada/EU… in fact any country’s Visa (they are not YOUR country)