Guest Post by Kanchan Shastry
As a child, I was not very fond of Social Studies as a subject. I failed to understand why we had to learn about Battle of Panipat or how many continents and oceans were on there on Planet Earth. How is that going to help me in my future, was a constant question in my head! In hindsight, I began to realise that in order to have a good future, I need to have a strong base in my history as well as the geography I survive in! The same logic also stretches to civics and economics. And then I wished so many times that I had paid more attention in those classes! Alas, I can’t turn back time now!
Despite my dislike for the subject however, one thing that remained firmly etched in my memory is the term Unity in Diversity. The two words in this phrase: Unity and Diversity rang a very powerful message in my head. I somehow felt a strong sense of pride when my teacher told me that India was a secular country where people of all faiths and religions, all castes and creed were allowed to live freely.
But as I grew up, it bothered me that we spoke of diversity only in terms of our communities and belongingness. It didn’t mention about free lives in terms of beliefs, orientation and of course gender. When I started my professional career, I understood even more that the diversity that I understood as a child was so limited and myopic. For diversity to flourish and make an impact, it’s essential that we extend its meaning to all facets of human life.
Take for example, the gender diversity in our workplaces. We need to reach a point where the gender of the candidate is an absolute non-matter in the decision to recruit/promote the person. We still have long strides to take before we reach this position, but I feel thankful that we’ve already started walking towards it. Another example is our religious beliefs. It is very difficult for a person to be an atheist or even an agnostic in this country. He/she would be immediately labelled as a freak, a non-believer, and consequently a person whom others cannot trust! This generally leads to such people hiding their religious beliefs from others. How do we maintain the aura of perfect diversity in such cases?
As far as the word Unity is concerned, for all those of us who were born in late 70s and early 80s, it would be easy to recall the very popular jingle: “anek mein ekta: sooraj ek, chanda ek, taare anek, ek titli, anek titliyan” which highlighted the need for us as Indians to be united. And what I love about this jingle is that it is meant especially for young children who can be taught the value of togetherness despite our differences. But I think Unity alone is incomplete. A diverse India which believes in equality along with being united is what makes it stronger and more progressive.
I look forward to seeing a new India which is known for Unity and Equality in Diversity and on this Women’s day, when the theme is balance for better, I hope we are able to drive a change towards balancing gender inequality as a first step.
Wish you a very Happy Women’s day to all of you! Let’s continue to make this world a more balanced and equal place!