Thursday, October 24, 2013

Is city the new caste?

Do we humans have an innate need to categorize and distinguish between groups people? You know the usual ones – race, caste, skin color, sex, language, religion, state and even how one wears a tilak on their forehead. And only recently, we found that even when everything else was the same, people are ready to divide a state based on whether a Nizam ruled them or not.

Correspondingly you have racists, casteists, sexists, linguists(!), communalists, and now, nizamists.

I think I’ve found a new one – cityists. These are people who divide based on which city you are from. Folks in the US are aware of this: New yorkers looking down on New Jersey, San Fransicans looking down on NY, and the southern Republicans looking down on all big cities.

Of course, most of these are in jest, or out of a sense of (sometimes misplaced) pride, and in the case of the Republicans, sheer ignorance.

Cityism, it seems, has now spread to India. Not that it wasn’t there earlier, but there was more of a regional (linguistic?) tinge to the hatred Bangaloreans expressed for Chennai weather, or contempt Chennaites showed for the Bangalorean classical music scene. Rarely did the city spirit cross the boundaries of state, or language. Rarely did the city you came from define who you are, and almost never more than your religion or caste (or language/region). Slowly however, belonging to a city is becoming as important as belonging to a caste, religion or language. I’m sure Tamil and Marathi speaking Mumbaikars identify with themselves more than their Tamilian or Maharashtrian kin. I know for a fact that I identify myself with my north Indian colleagues than with, say, Kannada authors. I’m also reminded of my friend, a Telugu-ite who once told me that he couldn’t stand Andhra telugus (only in jest, of course). And of Amitabh, who defended Mumbai from his state-mates from UP.

These are of course, simply anecdotes. Do they point to a more secular trend of cityism, and will it change India for the better?


Anonymous said...

Nice post

Unknown said...