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The Indian Definition of “Us” and “Our”

January 26, 2014

2013-14 has been a momentous year in Indian politics. Perhaps I have grown old enough to appreciate the nuances of politics, or the situation has gotten more interesting. We have had new faces come to the forefront, after decades of jaded, stern old men. 

Rahul Gandhi on one side – the favorite icon of cartoonists. His comments gave cartoonists and columnists months worth of fun material. 

Narendra Modi on the other hand – the controversial, progressive leader. He at least had some achievements to his name, albeit on the dicier side of how much was true. 

But for those who did not find either of these options acceptable, it was a tough path. 

And so came AAP – the aam aadmi party. The mango people party. The everyday man’s party. And hopes were rekindled. But in the short few months the party has been in power in Delhi, cartoonists have found a new love. 

But this post isn’t about AAP or any of these political parties in general. 

It is something that I just caught onto… the use of the word “Us” and “Our”. 

While one would believe that these words in a secular country like India would be all encompassing, they truly are not. They mean different things when speaking to different sections of the voters. 

For example, AAP’s reiterated stand they wanted to protect ‘hamari aurat’ and ‘aam aurat’. These statements were made after heinous violations of the rights of some African women, who unfortunately do not see any sign of justice currently. AAP went on to release the names and addresses of these women, who were accused of prostitution. Never mind that there is not a shred of proof of prostitution or drugs. 

Reading through tons of speeches made by people after this incident, I wondered if it was only me who was noticing the distinct ‘hamara’. 

While we claim to be a diverse nation and even celebrate the same, we are expected to be monotonous. Indians, by large, are expected to be Hindus, non-meat eating, non-drinking, traditional, temple-going crowd of people. 

Even as we claim that the discrimination against Dalits is a thing of the past, when I read through these speeches, I wonder if that is really true. Conversations of with some people in the past have left me wondering about their definition of Hindus. There have been people who have stated that Hindus are the “non-meat eating, thread-wearing section of people who actually are not even supposed to drink beer”. This was said with a beer in hand. And it restricted Hindus to the Bramhin and perhaps the Vaishya sect of the population. They would include the Kshatriyas but the Shudras were no where in this equation. 

I’m not going to talk about how these castes came along (we have a beautiful article on Wikipedia for that). But the mass definition of Indians refuses to consider even basic food preferences and restrict it to the smallest section of the population.

Likewise, AAP’s definition of our ‘hamari aurat’ coolly ignores the working woman, women from other cultures who have settled here for generations and are as Indian as you and me. The Chinese-Delhi woman, the African-Gujarati women. Yes, these people do exist and they worship the same gods that we do, if that is a point of contention. But in the worst case of racism seen in a while, all these people become outsiders with one stroke and hence, evil. 

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