In a land of billion people, with 1500 miles separating the east from the west, and an equal distance separating the north from the south, the resulting cultural exchange that culminates across different parts of the country allows us to accept the similarities and probe for those differences that can get baffling at times and at other times, equally glaring. India has in her the wherewithal to adapt to the changing times, and in today's fast paced world, she is really doing a good job in staying in tune with the present.
North, south, east and the west, but if you notice, people tend to classify India into two broad divisions, the north and the south. The east and the west somehow tend to get aligned with one of the two major divisions. Ask any Indian about the two regions, and he will be quick to draw the boundaries. At least 99% of the Indians will agree with me: Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu fall in the southern part of India, and anybody hailing from any of the four states can be called a South Indian. What about the remaining states? OK! The rest are the North Indians. My friends from Maharashtra tend to argue with me, But, we are neither north Indians nor south Indians! We are more cosmopolitan in our outlook. I know that the times are changing. A typical north Indian attitude: Anybody who does not speak Hindi should be from the southern part of India. Just apply the logic to suit the other end. According to a typical south Indian, anybody who speaks Hindi is a North Indian. So, a southerner would most definitely place a person coming from Bombay in the northern part of the country.
Hindi was adopted as the national language of India post Independence. The late sixties and early seventies witnessed quite a battle down south. The Tamilians wanted Tamil to be incorporated as the national language, the Telugu speaking people obviously wanted Telugu, Kannadigas wanted Kannada and Keralites wanted Malayalam as the official language of the country. The country was obviously in a turmoil, with each region declaring its language as the preferred choice of communication at the national level. After much discussion, Hindi was chosen as the national language of the country. There were protests from the southern quarters to ban teaching Hindi in schools and colleges. The leaders of these states did not want to promote Hindi in any way, and they felt that Hindi was a direct threat to the vernacular medium. Talks on logistics and numbers failed to find any reason with these people. The south felt that Hindi was being thrust on them. It actually took some time before news was aired in the local language. Even today, a southerner is not at ease speaking in Hindi. Why is that? Right from the beginning, he is brought up in a surrounding where people around him are speaking in the local language - Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam or Telugu. A habit that formed an integral part in him two thousand years back requires some changing, and it has to come voluntarily. Though English and Hindi are a part of the school syllabus, I am really not sure how many south Indians feel comfortable speaking in Hindi, though it is the national language of the country. There is always this reservation of Oh! Am I using the right words? Do I have a Southerner accent? Is he laughing at my Hindi? Though such an attitude is changing, it would really take some time before he comes out of such thoughts. When I was having a talk with one of my friends the other day, he told me "GK, first the preference is Telugu, then comes English and then comes Hindi." Why? I have problems speaking in Hindi, I just don't know. We can never be comfortable in Hindi, how many ever years we learn Hindi or how many ever Bollywood movies we see! I have had Hindi for close to twelve years, learning Prem Chand and other illustrious authors of the good old times, but coming to speech, Hindi takes a backseat with a certain kind of unknown preference to the vernacular languages and English. Just that the system of learning is so different down south. We are forced to speak in English in schools, and outside schools, Kannada gets important for local conversation, and somewhere down the line, other than learning for tests and exams, Hindi never gets the cake in the conversation sector. Pretty bad, but that's the truth!!! Language clearly defines the line between the north and the south, actually, unfortunately.
Bangalore has transformed itself into a cosmopolitan city. There is a good influx of people from the north what with the booming IT sector having set up a base in the silicon valley of the country. People down south have always been hailed as conservative compared to the counterparts from the north. Now, with the IT scenario, things have changed. There is no point in trying to draw comparisons as the flambuoyance is slowly finding its way down south. About ten years back, it was easy to notice the difference in a person, whether he is from the north or the south. Getting into the details can just be a touch controversial!!!
A laughable fact is that people from the north can never accept the south Indian film industry. Many of them find it amusing how a Rajinikanth/ Kamal Hassan/ Chiranjeevi/ Mohal Lal can be called as good film stars. Why? Because, their Hindi has a south Indian touch! But, come on, they are meant to be south Indian film stars belting out dialogues in the local tongue. South Indian films are not catered to the North. It has its special audience section down south. Obviously there is a difference in the style of film making. It is impossible to appease the other section with products from the southern market. It is a pretty tough job! Bollywood draws its fascination down south, but people have more choices from the local industry and so, Bollywood stars though popular, cannot drive a south Indian fan crazy.
The north and the south have their differences, but it gets fascinating, when in a different country, all of them unite for a common cause. Be it a religious or a social cause, there is no opportunity lost to join hands and get together for a cultural fiesta.