I was born in a family which was basically agrarian and belong to Haryana. I had spend initial years of my childhood in my village. The small village and farms were the whole world for me. My father was in army and when I was in 4th standard he decided that we (my family) will stay with him so that we can get good education through KVs. So, my next world was various Army cantonments and KVs, I stayed and studied at. In certain ways, my life till college days hovered around the idea of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” as this was related to my background.
As my early childhood was spent in a Haryana village, I was very attached to my culture and way of living I saw and learned there. In fact it was such that I remember we as a group of children used to mock other cultures and were not very open to diverse views. I never felt that there can be any diverse thought, view or society.
When I joined KV in Army Cantonment, Bhuj in fifth standard, my world changed completely. And my journey to accept, appreciate and celebrate diverse views started. It was very painful to start with as it challenged the very rigid idea under which I lived spent my childhood. It took some time but then I started feeling that diverse views and ideas are enriching and complimentary. They need not always be challenging. They only seem challenging till the time we are rigid in our thought. As soon as we become open and accept other ideas, the sense of those being challenging goes away.
We always celebrated festivals when a new crop was harvested and same was the case with various agrarian communities all around the country. The ways of celebration were different but the theme remained same. So, the way of celebration was diverse but the theme was common. I learned many such aspects of diverse views, thoughts and cultures while studying at KVs and staying at cantonments. In fact, it always felt like staying in a mini India as there were people from all parts of country representing there culture which were diverse but united by the fact that we all were Children of the Defense personnel.
There were confrontation at times, but it always ended as the underline was we are one, with different small identity but a larger common identity. This is the most important learning I had, that it is important to understand the larger common identity while representing a smaller diverse identity.
My small diverse identity was of a Haryana village boy from an agrarian community but larger common identity was of a child of defense person of India. The knowledge to identify which identity is larger is something which we all should acquire. As soon as we posses this knowledge we become more accepting, accommodating and respecting towards other smaller diverse identities.
Extrapolating this to the country, our identity as Indians should dominate over all other identities which may be language, religion, cast, region, state or culture based. When two confronting smaller identities emerge anytime, the larger identity of being and Indian will guide us to be more accepting, accommodating and respecting. The confrontation dies as soon as we become accepting towards someone.
This is how I have developed openness to diverse views and cultures as I always being proud of my smaller identity, have respected other smaller identities keeping the underlying thought of a greater common identity connecting us more strongly than smaller identity separating us. I could unite with number of people with diverse thoughts, ways, cultures and identities through this.
Yes diverse can stay united !!!
– Sandeep Dahiya (L&T-MHPS Boilers)