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Them and Us
|by Ananya S Guha|
I despise the 'them' and 'us' syndrome. It means or implies many anti humanist things. One is the herd mentality, a group feeling, where thinking may be guided by emotion and reason, It also connotes divisiveness in society and pluralistic harmony, in a country like India is deeply disturbed. Unfortunately this is what happening in our country for over the last three to four decades.
For example it happens in the minority-majority religious dilemma. It can happen among linguistic communities, that is among different linguistic groups. It happens and is happening among inter caste dimensions, something which is not highlighted enough by journalists and social scientists.
If there is danger to the oneness and larger fabric of the country because of linguistic or religious differences, the same is true of inter caste factionalism. All these fractions lead to categorization and generalizations of the worst kind.
In India we create only types and typologies: they, us, ours, theirs, those, these... the list can go on. Creating typologies on the basis of caste, community, language, colour and religion is an affront to humanity. But, at the same time, we must understand certain 'smaller' communities, like those in North East India are like one family, and to that extent there is a closeness among them. It would not be apposite to compare them with say the Bengali or Marathi communities, or in a generic sense the North Indian communities, because they are more dispersed, and in that sense 'larger'. So to call the former sectarian or ethnocentric is unjust, because we have to take into account their history, their numbers and population. And the 'larger' dispersed communities can be easily as ethnocentric if not more.
Ramachandra Guha once wrote in The Telegraph, Kolkata that the Bengali community has symptoms of benign parochialism, as opposed to the extreme militancy of some communities in India. There is nothing called benign parochialism, parochialism is parochialism, manifesting in aspects like my language is the best, my city is the best, my songs are the best etc. This is a form of narcissism which many of the communities of the so called mainstream suffer from. Isn't this ethnocentricity or sectarianism?
Before we blame others,the hyped mainstream should also look at themselves. A society like an individual also needs self scrutiny. Keeping in mind my above contention, I find the them and us syndrome, which is symptomatic of character deficiency repugnant to say the least.
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