India.. We are a complicated yet simple country. Full of idiosyncrasies yet normalcy. Full of chaos until you learn to find the peace. We are a land of variety, a land of different cultures, lifestyles and food habits all amalgamated into one country.
Ever since I have moved to Singapore, I am often asked, “What race are you?” and when I tell them I am an Indian, I often come across answers like “Oh, you don’t look Indian” or “You are too fair to be Indian” or “You don’t sound like an Indian”
All these interactions, led me to ponder upon a few things and I have realized that there are a lot of stereotypes about Indians which need to be shed or clarified.
1.Indians are brown or black
Now this is the most common form of sterotype (or racist comment) that I have come across. People are obsessed with skin color all the time. (Yeah it happens in India too, but more so, here.) I don’t understand how somebody’s skin color defines them. Nobody automatically becomes superior or inferior based on their color. A person isn’t defined by color, yet somehow people judge talent and intelligence based on it.
Also, not all Indians are black. We come in all colors from fair to chocolate brown and I think all of us are equal and should be judged solely on our talents and other soft skills. Color should not be the deciding factor at all.
2. India is a country full of slums, snake charmers and poor people
While this is true to some extent, I disagree that our whole country should be stereotyped as that. Today, India is a fast developing superpower with more and more markets investing in the country. We are knowledgeable about a lot of things and are upto date with what is going on in the world.
Also, a large part of the poverty has to be blamed on the British Rule in India which lasted for 150 years, due to which we lost most of our resources and a whole lot of wealth. Despite this, we are recovering quite fine and managing to make our mark in the world.
3. All Indians are into Information Technology (IT) or Work as labourers or do odd jobs.
I agree most of us are really good at IT and I considered taking it up as well at some point. However, we have educated ourselves in a lot of other professions including finance, journalism, arts, dentistry, medicine and everything else on the planet. I am a physiotherapist who blogs. So yeah. A lot of diverse professions out there. Kindly don’t fit us into one box. A lot of Indians hold MBAs and PhDs. India also has plenty of business schools, and the government is working hard on providing quality higher education. The education system in India is competitive and challenging, and children are given exams from a young age. Children commonly go to extra tuition after school just to get ahead, especially in big cities.
Since the population of India is vast, Indians usually have very good exposure to hands-on experience and treating patients in medical and physiotherapy related fields.
4. Indian food is all about naan and butter chicken
Well while this may be the most common available food outside India, Indian food is if I may so, most varied in the entire world. Every city, every village, every state has a unique culture which defines it’s cuisine.
Even the spices we use vary and all our spices have a lot of health benefits.
The next time you drink a ‘turmeric latte’ or ‘chai latte’ remember they have been adapted from India where, since centuries every kid is advised to drink turmeric milk (haldi doodh) and Chai is our official drink. Hah!
Also, a large number of Indians, (including me :D) are vegetarian, so Indian food is like paradise for vegetarians and vegans.
The cuisine completely changes from North to South and East to West. It mainly depends on the climate and the type of crops that grow in that region. So yeah, if you haven’t gotten my point by now, Indian food is vast and not similar at all.
5. Indians worship cows and have 330 million Gods!
Well, this stereotype is true I would say and I will proudly say I love this stereotype, but not the way it is depicted by the world.
Why do Indians worship cows??
The Indian cow possesses motherly qualities and is given a human like status.
The milk of Indian cows contain A2 milk protein (unlike A1 milk in jersey cows) which is similar to a human mother’s milk. The urine and cow dung of these Indian cows is also very beneficial and used for a lot of purposes in Indian villages and helps prevent a lot of diseases and provides immunity. Hence, Indians worship cows, because they are selfless animals asking nothing in return except love and care.
Why do Indians worship so many Gods & Goddesses?
330 million gods in India! Gods and goddesses with multiple heads and arms! What kind of crazy religion is Hinduism? Actually, it’s not what it seems. While Hindus do believe that god is in everything, it’s all manifestations of the one source and creator of reality — Brahmaan, that is the Universe. Therefore every living and non-living thing is viewed as sacred. Each of Hinduism’s many gods and goddesses also represent individual aspects of Brahmaan. For example, Lord Ganesha is worshiped for good fortune and removing obstacles. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped for prosperity and wealth,etc.
So there you are. I hope I have clarified a few of the many stereotypes about India and Indians.
To my fellow Indians who are reading this and wondering how can we change the way the world views us I have a few tips:
- When in “Rome do as the Romans do” which means, whichever country you are in, do your best to learn more about their culture, habits ,behaviour and cuisines. Follow the rules, keep yourself, your surroundings and home clean and civilised.
- Don’t roam in groups or clans and mingle just with Indians. Most Indians do this. Don’t sit and just befriend fellow Indians. Make friends who are not Indian so that you grow and get to know much more about other people and break the barriers.
Overall. if most Indians who stay abroad would come out of their shells and interact more with people of all races and cultures, I think a large number of stereotypes can be broken. Be more willing and open to adapting new habits. Afterall you are currently staying in another country, the least you can do is be open-minded and show eagerness in mingling with the people around you. Of course that doesn’t mean we are forgetting our culture, but just enhancing our knowledge and lives by making new friends and learning about new cultures.
So that’s all I have to say for now. Whoa, that was a long one after a long time.
I would say, India has its flaws, it’s share of crimes and corrupt people, yet that part doesn’t represent our country. We stand out by our human values, our hospitality, our honesty, our love for peace, our knowledge and of course yoga and spirituality.
So let’s all be ‘global citizens’ and more adapting and accepting of each others cultures.
Till the next post,
Dream, Imagine, Be Crazy, Be You.