Integration? What integration?

Reading MM’s post and associated comments made my thoughts go many different ways. I formulated comment upon comment in my mind but realized there was no cogency to my thoughts. Instead of spewing half baked rubbish on her blog, I figured I might as well use this space to put my thoughts out.

I agree that there is no black and white, right or wrong answer but having lived in a country other than the one I grew up in for a few years now, these questions have been asked, debated and discussed ad nauseam in the different circles in which I move. I remember Poppins had written a post on this topic a long while ago which still resonates with me. Whether it is moving from Tamil Nadu to Karnataka or across to the seas, I think we owe it to ourselves to incorporate something of the new culture of which we are part. Now, the borders are unclear on this one. How much is too much?

Learning Kannada when in Karnataka or learning to celebrate Vasant Hubba to me is as important as retaining my tradition of keeping Golu or keeping kanu pidi for Sankranthi. Imbibing local flavors into cuisine or participating in local festivals helps us grow roots. It causes a sense of belonging. More importantly, it makes it easier for the locals to find a common mooring point. A start to new associations. By setting up a Christmas tree, having a Thanksgiving dinner with family or giving out candy for Halloween, I feel part of my new circle. To me acceptance means much and this is my way of finding acceptance.

However, should the Government mandate it? Even if they did what is defined as integration? Where would the boundaries lie? How would that be any different than ethnic cleansing?

Like I said my thoughts are muddled and the questions remain.

4 comments

  1. What thoughts from both the links especially loved the post from ‘Poppins’. I sometimes have these thoughts too, having been brought up in Malawi (Central Africa) and then moving to UK as a teen and now having a family of my own here. Oh ofcourse having my year in India as well :). I well we are very lucky that we grew up in Malawi and the wonderful parents that we do, as we only came to know of the different castes when we moved to the UK. We celebrated and still do all the festivals from all the faiths. We have a christmas tree and give presents, as well as celebrating deepavali with the making of traditional sweets, lighting divas and rangoli. We have been taught to embrace our surroundings and blend in. I did exactly that when I spent my year in India, that some of the locals who I got to know would not believe me even looking at my passport (British ?!) as they thought I was seriously born and lived there all my life.
    With regards to the host countries embracing us well that is the million dollar question of tolerance as a society. The question is why are issues made of the intolerance of a few and then the entire world latches on ? I feel that we as a race don’t really fit in anywhere because we live in our own cosmos, where as what we should do is go with the flow, find or create our own identity as per our own beliefs and celebrate life for what it is.

    Sorry Laksh for the long post (but thank you for providing such a space for me to be able to engage in wonderful conversation and share my thoughts as well) 🙂

  2. Did not have time to hop over to the links you have given, but just my 2 cents on what I read here. It is totally fine to imbibe local culture and follow it; just wish that many I know (unlike you) feel that it is below their dignity even to uphold the customs they grew up with. Roots totally gone! It angers me sometimes, it makes me wonder if I am the one who is being foolish. Anyways…let me not rant on your space!! 🙂

  3. I am a little confused / perplexed on this issue too. I think the fundamental problem is creating states on linguistic lines – this causes a lot of division and creates the “sons (and daughters) of soil” syndrome. If states were not based on languages, then identity based on language within a state would not arise. Where do you draw the line when it comes to being willing to accept the local culture; it is not that I am against it, but how far is far enough? Is learning the local language a proof of accepting the local culture – in this age of globalization, I don’t believe that it is. Again, I am not against learning another language, in fact would love to (although my aptitude for picking language is not great :-P) – but I am not the kind of person that would go out of my way to learn the local language. I have lived in Bangalore for over 2 years, I can understand Kannada and barely construct a few sentences in it, not because I didn’t want to learn nor that I didn’t appreciate the local culture / identity. On the contrary, I loved the city and the time I spent there – just that I didn’t get an opportunity to learn the language, as I hardly interacted with “true” locals, living in a hostel. Different circumstances / situation, I might have picked the language. What I fundamentally don’t understand is how far is far and who are these goons to judge (in this specific case of MNS) whether I have assimilated the local flavor or not? Again coming back to the specific case of MNS, aren’t we all Indians first and foremost, before being Marathis or Kannadigas or Telugites?

    A totally different viewpoint on the same topic: http://musicandnoise.blogspot.com/2008/10/in-defence-of-marathi.html

  4. Thanks for the link Laksh! The only thing I have to add is that this isn’t something the government can mandate this is something people should do by themselves – integrate into their adopted homeland!

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