Channel’s ‘Unity in Diversity’

Though everyone talks
about the ‘unity in diversity’ in the Indian society, very few seem
to understand the basis of this ‘unity’ of ‘diversity’ contained in
this slogan-coined by British historian Vincent Smith and later
popularized by Jawaharlal Nehru. The basis of this unity is unique
because it did not emerge out of similarity. Unity in this slogan
does not mean uniformity but is organic in nature, because it emerges
from differences. In other words, it highlights the cultural
heterogeneity of India and salutes the way our society has imbibed
‘homogeneity’ out of it.

Cricket has been without a
doubt the best proponent of this ‘unity in diversity’ theory.
Especially in the aftermath of the World Cup triumph, this idea has
once more been reinforced. After all, it was a triumph orchestrated
by a Jharkhandi captain helped by a Mumbai ‘demi-god’, a Najafgarh
Jat, a brash Punju playboy, a hot-headed Sardar, a simpleton from a
remote Gujarat village and even an eccentric Malayalaee. The IPL
further reinforces the spirit-one witnessed a board put during the
Mumbai vs Pune Warriors match stating ‘Sachin is the God for every
Warriors too’. A close second to cricket would be Bollywood; though
things here are interestingly a little different. Unlike cricketers
who now represent every state and culture, Bollywood is essentially
Hindi movies only and that too primarily glorifying the Punjabi way
of life and culture. How would a sociologist explain the whole of
India (except maybe parts of Tamil Nadu) lapping it up and creating
national icons out of the likes of Shahrukh, Deepika and Priyanka?

While cricket and
Bollywood are well-known, I believe the IT channel community is
another strong proponent of this ‘unity in diversity’ theory. And it
follows more of the Bollywood school of thought than cricket-if
it’s Punjabi culture gaining pan-India acceptance, it’s how the
Marwaris/Gujaratis are dominating the Indian IT channel, be it in
Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Assam, Shillong, Coimbatore or
Jammu. So if you have already started wondering why this discourse
got published in DQ Week, the answer lies in the reason that I
believe that there is a need for more popular awareness about how the
Marwari/Gujarati IT channel fraternity is playing an important role
in our nation building.

These things are however
not achieved by mere application of a magic wand-there are factors
that have helped. Like Hindi movies (with their inherent Punjabiyat)
still try to cater to local tastes, the Marwaris also mix seamlessly
into the local culture. During my travels across the country, I am
happily surprised to see Marwari channel partners from Bengaluru
speaking fluently in Kannada or those in Chennai speaking in Tamil.
The moment they do this, it increases their local acceptance quotient
manifold; and their integration into the local diaspora is much
smoother. Two, our narrow-minded politicians might wield the regional
chauvinism card for their benefit, but the flourishing businesses of
Marwari partners in different markets indicate they will thankfully
never succeed in their machinations.

Vincent Smith definitely
never even dreamed of channel partners while coining his slogan; but
today if he had taken a round of Nehru Place, Lamington Road, GC
Avenue, Ritchie Street and SP Road, he might like to rephrase it as
‘IT in diversity’. Hail IT, hail the channel partners.

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