(The author is Bengali with roots in pre-partition East Bengal and current day West Bengal. She currently resides in California, United States.)
I have often wondered at the reason behind the seemingly sanctioned communal hatred in India. My argument used to be that India, with its multitude of languages, tribes, castes and religions is a complicated culture. Living in the US has made me realize that India’s diversity cannot be an excuse for the open hate. Generalizations and stereotypes abound in the US as well, but is of minuscule proportions when compared to India.
In India, there is a tremendous need for people in positions of power and influence to articulate that it is simply wrong to speak against or stereotype negatively on the basis of something that a person was born into. Instead it is imperative to focus on and learn from the positives of a person. After independence, an entire generation has been raised in new states built on linguistic lines that have clearly demarcated what were expected to be clean cultural boundaries. As a result, the people who make up our society today can be illogically judgmental. It is high time this is reversed, and children are taught to love and respect everyone, at school and at home.