What’s it like to grow up Indian?
If the Indian Society were to be portrayed in a picture, it would best be illustrated by a labyrinth of several diverse communities interspersed with each other. Being Indian is undoubtedly complicated – but these complications are accompanied by a sense of contentment and pride about being a part of a nation so vibrant and rich with beauty.
I’ve lived in India for 20 years – all my life, basically.
Since I was born and brought up in the cosmopolitan city of Hyderabad, I have been exposed to people from all walks of life. My friends’ circle in school comprised people from all over the country – all the way from Delhi and Rajasthan in the North, to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the south. As a 12-year old glutton, I believed that the best part of having such a diverse circle of friends was the regular delight of being able to feast on delicious food from all over the country.
Only much later did I realise the importance of such early experiences of cultural exchange with my friends and their families. Each day I had spent with the people “different” from me – in terms of their religion, native language, place of birth – had essentially shaped me into a more open-minded, and culturally-sensitive person.
At 17 (thankfully, by then, I had lost all my baby fat), I moved to Pune for university. My university is truly one of most diverse in the country. So during my three years of UG, I befriended students from not only Kashmir, Tamil Nadu and most of the states in between, but also students from the Middle East, Europe and East Asia.
All this exposure at university played a huge role in strengthening my belief that India is the land of opportunity in today’s world. As one of the fastest growing economies, it provides plenty of room for innovation, growth and development. Amidst all this unstoppable growth however, India is being plagued by numerous social and environmental challenges. Fortunately, several local change makers have begun persistent efforts to keep such development sustainable – for both the environment and the society.
Being Indian can also be challenging in some ways. Due to its long history of unfavourable political, economical, social and institutional factors, India at times lacks the resources and opportunities to build dependable infrastructure. As the repercussions of these disadvantages passed down over generations, a significant number of families of the country were left living in poverty.
However, we Indians feel the strong winds of change. The Social sector our country has grown to provide novel solutions for our social problems. It fills me with hope and great pride when I hear of the success stories and the relentless efforts made by social enterprises and NGOs across India.
In short, despite all the complexities that come with it, being Indian is exhilarating. It is being the citizen of a nation that’s rising from its ashes – and has an incredible potential to grow into a magnificent country.