Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Ghettos v/s Integratio​n

"ನಿಮ್ಮೊಡನಿದ್ದೂ, ನಿಮ್ಮಂತಾಗದೆ " (Being with you, not being you) I could associate with these beautiful lines from poet Nissar Ahmed, when I moved away from my home country where I was among majority to become a minority in another country.
Though not living in an Indian colony, have preferred to hang around with our community, dine with them; same time exchanging smiles and hellos with native neighbours and colleagues. Other minority communities have preferred to live close by as well, which has lead to one of  the controversial areas; 'Ghettos'. Ghettos for different (economic) class have been existing from time immemorial, but cultural/ethnic ghettos are a recent phenomena after the arrival of multiculturalism. Natives are angry with the way, how the native culture has almost been eroded in these new settlements.

British cry fowl about minorities not integrating in UK because of ghetto culture. They conveniently forget, how British expatriates are living collectively in Spain, even electing a Mayor who can hardly speak Spanish. Is ghetto culture confined to a particular community/religion alone, or is it a human psyche? (People preferring to be in a community of similar tastes and habit). Isn't  ghettoising an inevitable happening in a multicultural society? Then why do we oppose it? Because, it is not ideal. True, but what will you do when human beings are not ideal, instead imperfect?
Accepting ghettoising, accepting a inhomogeneous society without full integration is out of the imagination for promoters of secular society. Can a society survive and thrive with their communities divided on cultural (religion or regional) basis? If it has grown despite the division of  rich and poor, why can't it grow with cultural division? Is integration a necessary condition for cordial relation between the communities?
Why did socialism fail? It was built on a utopian feeling, all human beings should consider everyone to be equal, treat everyone like themselves. But selfish human mind refused to accept this ideology. A system can be effective only when it takes into account, human beings are imperfect. Integration; where every community having representation in a street, where marriages mostly happen  between members of different communities than members of same community; it will most probably remain as an idea rather than a reality.
I am mentioning an immigration which took place thousand years ago in Karnataka. Acharya Ramanuja, who propagated SriVaishnava philosophy in Tamilnadu, was threatened by a Shaiva Chola king. He and his followers took shelter in Karnataka in Melukote. Melukote, even after so many centuries has continued to be the hub of SriVaishnavas. Women folks mainly spoke Tamil (till 25 years ago) while men could speak in Kannada and Tamil. Alliances were only amongst themselves. If not, they will exchange with community members from Tamilnad. (a practise, which is eroding slowly in last couple of decades). Surrounding society had no objection to anything. (The basic difference between these immigrants and Pak immigrants in UK is economically dissimilar status between UK and Pak. In the first instance, both the regions were equal in economic terms. There was give and take between the communities. But in UK, there is no exchange. It is only a one way route of settling in UK).
After hundreds of years of settlement, a member from this Tamil speaking  community wins the highest literary award of India, Jnanpith for his work in Kannada. In fact, half the Jnanpith awards in Kannada have come from the people who did not speak Kannada at home. Not to forget, it has happened without imposing Kannada on any of these communities, instead by their own will and love. Bangalore a fairly recent city, thrives despite being just a collection of ghettos (Native vegetarian ghettos, Tamil ghettos, poor-muslim ghettos, Anglo Indian ghettos, North Indian ghettos and very recently expat ghettos). The reason for Bangalore's shine is its non imposing nature. Enforcement cannot win love like acceptance.
Can I extrapolate this idea to the way how caste system worked in olden times? Each community, segregating along community lines and marrying only within their community. Yes, each community staying in separate lanes in a village was not perfect/not ideal. But then, the system considered it as an inevitable nuisance. Indian society has worked by accepting the other as what they are and not imposing one's value to another. Was that evil?

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