Why the Indian community in Canada should heal its differences

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Indo-Canadians celebrating India's Independence day

brig nawab heer

TORONTO: India is a country of diverse cultures, religions, languages, foods, clothing, rituals and beliefs. Most tourists from the western world visiting India speak very highly of its diversity.

In North America, the US is called the melting pot and Canada the multicultural mosaic. Though both the US and Canada have been very successful in engendering the feelings of nationalism among all their citizens, these two countries have not been able to blend all cultures to that extent that India has. After all, India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world.

I have been visiting Canada since the 1970s. Sadly, over the years I have seen the Indian community – which was once a thickly knitted group – suffering from internal fractures. There was a time when two Indians meeting in Canada used to get instantly connected irrespective of region, language and religion. But now it feels painful to see how the Indian community is splitting day by day into sub groups – divided on religion, language and the geography of origin.

The emergence of new groups is nothing wrong as people can co-exist and flourish as sub groups. But it is expected that when these sub-groups come from the same country, they can at least once a year all come under one umbrella to celebrate their commonalities shared back in India – the strength of our largest democracy, our rich culture,  diversity of religions, food and languages and traditions.

Because of some unfortunate circumstances, one community from India migrated to Canada in big numbers in the eighties and nineties. This community has made a big mark in Canada’s politics and all Indians should be proud of this. Progress should attract healthy competition, not jealousy.

But somehow, as I have observed, this is not happening in the Indian community. They are getting divided on religious beliefs, languages and even political ideologies brought as a baggage from India. One wonders at times why in a developed country whose values provides respect freedom of speech and diverse religious beliefs, why people should continue to nurture old grudges. Putting others down is not part Canadian values.

Frankly, there is no major issue that divides various Indian communities in Canada. But there are certain groups and leaders who want to create this wedge to keep their positions intact.

It is time for all communities hailing from India – be it Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims – to sit back and think why they cannot live in harmony that has existed in India for centuries. Their harmony and unity will further their progress in businesses, politics and individual development. Moreover, they owe it to their second and third generations to leave a much better legacy and fond memories of love, compassion and harmony.

My sincere request to leaders of all Indo-Canadian communities is to join hands with each other and always be proud of your motherland no matter where you live.

I will also request one community that whole humanity feels their pain and asks for justice. Yes, we should raise our voice against those individuals in power who were responsible for those crimes. But at the same time we must not go against other communities for no fault of theirs. My request to other communities is that they must support fight for human rights and raise their voices for justice.

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