I have always thought it was a major exaggeration when people said or wrote that they felt the ground under their feet shift leaving them stunned and shocked.
What could possibly happen to a person to create such an extreme reaction that you lose touch with your bearings and question the firmness on the earth you are standing on?
What could shake the foundations of your existence, and make you think that your whole perception of yourself so far is a lie and you are just an alien?
Happened to me when someone asked me if I was a kannadiga or an "outsider"in Bangalore. The categorisation seemed very clear. It did not matter that I had lived in this city for 26 years, considered it my home,spoke kannada better than some for whom it was the mother tongue and above all, loved the city. I own property and I have voting rights here. And yet,to be called an outsider in your home?! Now, that hurt, very very deeply. I did not know where I belonged anymore.
I completely understood what some of my friends who practice Islam had told me all along. How it felt to be treated like an outsider in your own home. Now I completely understand the alienation that the African Americans feel in the U.S.A. I can see why the suburbs of Paris are burning. This is where the seeds are sown.
What qualifies one to be an insider in any place?
When I salute the national flag or sing the national anthem or cheer the men in blue or say "vande mataram' from the pit of my stomach, and own an Indian passport, I feel that I belong here and that this IS my HOME - every inch of its territory. I refuse to be categorised as anything other than "Indian" despite the languages I know , where I live or what religion I practice. Bangalore, Mumbai or Kashmir is as much my home as anyone who has lived there for 500 years. My constitution guarantees me that and I refuse to let anyone take that away from me.
Next time someone asks me if I am an "outsider" I shall not dignify that with a reply or a reaction.
Vande Mataram!

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

Rabindranath Tagore.

58 years...and yet we are far from there!!!Miles to go to be free gurudev!
19 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    very well understand your feelings.

    "My constitution guarantees me that and I refuse to let anyone take that away from me"

    Thats a very powerful message. Welldone.

  2. Shashi Iyer Says:

    may sound irrelevant... but this on some notes resonates with the havenots - have psychology. i remember reading a line Ayn Rand wrote "To say 'I love you' one should know how to say I...". ask them the definitions of an insider, isn't it paradoxical?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I guess one shouldn't read too much into these things. As things stand, the parochialists are just a tad less dangerous than those who advocate a version of multi-culturalism that has benefited only the most virulent of hate-mongers who have no belief in it but nevertheless work it to their benefit. The modus operandi is for these "affected" parties to wear an aura of injured innocence or violated dignity or denied opportunity and agitate these feelings of persecution before cause junkies who then play up this politics of "victimhood"! That is, these "multi-culturalism activists" add romance to their lives by inventing an underclass where none exists and then show themselves up as the champion of such underdogs. Anyway, my contention is that pluralism and stuff like that should not be an one-way street but should be practised in a milieu where all parties concerned sincerely--and not tactically!!--believe in its tenets. When a cabinet minister of the union of India, no less, proudly proclaims in the parliament--that holiest temple of Indian democracy (and pluralism, if you will!!)--that the Supreme Court of India and its presiding deity are too insignificant an institution to comment on his creed's god-given laws and goes on to say that the constitution is welcome only as long as it subserves the holy tenets of his timelessly holy book, you really wonder whether he (and the group whose cause he professes to espouse) are only exploiting the "pluralists'" sense of fair-play, by selectively playing the pluralist card.

    In the recent past, V S Naipaul, Jaitirth "Jerry" Rao and, of course, the redoubtable Swapan Dasgupto, have written excellent articles on misconceived multi-culturalism. (Mind you, they have also clearly quoted contexts where Indians / Hindus have also been undue beneficiaries of such largesse in the west!)

    Coming back to the specific context of the post, the language fanatics have always had a free run in most parts of India, merely because it has been easier to organise majoritarian mobs around the issue of language and the "pluralists" have NEVER EVER counselled restraint, as witnessed by their 'deafening silence' on the actreses' issue in TN. Sorry, no "multi-culturalism" there as the "uni-culturalists" are very well organised!--Ram

  4. Usha Says:

    Dubukku: Ya, I think we all need to stand up strong against these kind of attempts to alienate us in our own land and create imaginary rifts between us as people. That is probably one strong way to get rid of politics based on caste, language or religion.
    Sashi: I do not want any definitions - I am saying I shall only abide by the definition of being human and Indian for my cultural identity.
    Ram:A lot of what you say makes sense and this is how all this politics of divisionism has made sense to people all along.
    I think it is time we took this seriously and stood up strongly against these tendencies,By ignoring it or sweeping it under the carpet we allow it to an opportunity to grow. Bangalore has always been known for its hospitality and acceptance of people from all over India - so now, from where do we hear all this talk about outsiders and insiders. Politicians are seeing this as a great opportunity to exploit and people who have not benifitted by all this growth are a willing prey. And then it is just a small step towards tension and violence. As educated , responsible citizens it is for us to nip it in the bud. Even if enough damage has been done already, we can still wake up today and say "enough" and not say it is the historic inheritence which cannot be reversed.Don't you see the absurdity of the whole thing - why would you want to go along with it?
    I was pained to see the constructive criticism about the state of Bangalore roads in Anita's blog being hijacked totally by some as an outsider/ insider issue!!! (

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I have goose flesh everytime i read that poem!
    it makes me 6' tall!

  6. Krish Says:

    This is not too unlike what Brahmins in Tamilnadu were told once upon a time - that they don't belong there (not "mannin maindhargal"). I think parochialism is a hallmark of Bharatavasis :-)

  7. Anonymous Says:

    It is comic really when anyone considers himself as an 'insider' of any place to which he/she truly never belongs.

    We all never fully realise that the earth is only our temporary dwelling place.

    Don't allow yourself to get hurt by such ignorant remarks.
    Rangan Badri

  8. Usha Says:

    Anon: Me too, I think this should become our national anthem.
    Thennavan:Ya, we have seen this all over the place - alienation based on language, caste, religion. Let us say "enough, no more."
    Badhri: That is a very deep plane you are on to - I think you can be very much of the earth and still live and let live.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Usha - Patriotism and Indian concept is brandied for shutting out all dialouge. Patriotism unfortunately cannot fill bellies and save dieing farmers. But it can give filled up bellies a bloated sense of self improtance and false pride. India shining.

    @dubukku - Constitution is no words on stone. It is subjective to the wishes of the people. My brothers in tamilnadu have successfully demonstrated that in the 60s when they drove the hindi-hagemons out of their state. The constitution can be changed. Between people and constitution the verdict is always towards people.

    @shashi - The have nots are asking the question why should the airport road flyover be higher on priority than the state highway in bidar. Ever heard of bidar ? its the poorest districts of india. IT stole that away from the dieing farmers.

    @Rangan badri - I am sure you would write off your flat/house to someone else. Its not your permanant home anyway.

    -Mannina Maga

  10. Usha Says:

    Mannina maga, I understand your concern for the dying farmer but are you saying that there is no way IT and farming can flourish side by side - does it always have to be at the expense of the one or the other? Are there not enough concessions being given to agriculturists- if everything is being cornered bya few rich agriculturists making the marginalised and small farmer die - why blame IT for that. And let me remind you that these rich agriculturists are as much mannina magas and not outsiders.
    Please let us stop mixing up issues - people from other states are here not to take away your bread but to contribute to its growth. If their companies had their offices in bhilai they d go and work there and not cling to bangalore.
    Ya Tamilnadu agitated against iposition of Hindi but when they realised that it affected their mobility for employment Tamilians have been acquiuring knowledge of Hindi in the past decades. They only fought the imposition not for the destruction of the language.
    And please stop looking at a fellow Indian as an outsider - we have enough problems in the country in the name of caste and religion. Let us not add to the list. Let us behave responsibly.
    It is possible to fight for the rights of the marginalised, the neglected without killing a sector that is prospering.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    @Usha - If you have Rs. 100 for the state and Rs 20 gets spent for IT, doesent it provide that much lesser money for other things like water, electricity, agriculture, education etc. ? Thats all I am saying. Why does IT need govt spending first of all ? Can it not run on its own. Why hasnt Infosys paid up those taxes that are outstanding ? Shall we just start looking at that ? I know you are from the IT industry and it would be difficult to talk otherwise, but step out of your IT shoes for a minute and see how things appear. You would understand then.

  12. Usha Says:

    I am not from IT and I am at the receiving end too of all the price rise, increased vehicular traffic, Over construction and so on.
    If you want to lead a protest march to the vidhan soudha demanding attention for rural Karnataka, count me in. My heart bleeds as much for the dying farmer, the under priveleged and the marginalised.
    I agree about learing the local language and not complaining that everyone does not speak Hindi.
    But let us not aim our anger at the wrong people.
    Let us do it in a constructive way by fighting the government's lopsided priorities rather than blaming people who have merely come here in search of their employment and are doing what their job requires them to do. They do not make the policies.
    If infrastructure improves, all the citizens of bangalore benefit not just the sector.
    Anyone can talk about the problems of a city - may be someone who has come from outside spots it more easily than someone who has grown used to it. it is not a complaint. We must learn to accept constructive criticism.
    In our anger let us not get so blinded that we look for issues to divide ourselves and let vested interests exploit these differences.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Nobody said it cant flourish side by side…just remember that even an overdose of medicine turns into poison. How much more can Bangalore take. Isnt it high time for the companies to locate elsewhere?

    You claim to have lived here for 26 long years, surely you would have seen the transformation. Are you scared so much to admit the fact the Bangalore has been raped by these IT barons? Just because your friends say that DeveGowda has prevented the Corporation from performing its duties, you want to sing along. Now lets take an example, there’s a huge commercial complex/entertainment centre/apartments coming up in Mallya road. Invariably it will be housed by some IT company and 60% of the apartments occupied by its employees..lets consider that 30% of the crowd thronging the entertainment centre belong to IT….imagine the vehicular density in that area, so more traffic jams, snarls, pollution, bad roads etc.,. Everyday you’ll end up seeing more and more blogs by the IT fraternity(who work there) how it takes them 3 hours to reach office and other general complaints. What do you want the Government to do? Eat away Cubbon park and Kanteerava Stadium and build fly over there? Surely I’ll take up a legal battle and bring a stay order. Just because of these IT bosses I don’t want my breathing space to vanish.…so the work gets affected for 2 years. What will you see on the net? more and more complaints about the fly over work being stopped for more than one year etc. How do you expect a common man to think? Don’t you agree it will be only natural for him to fight the people who rake up that issue?

    If you are a responsible citizen, surely you would analyse both faces of the coin. The very action of Infosys, wherein they identified the land and then asked for denotification suggests the amount of landgrabbing and corruption prevailing here..don’t argue about the politicians, its people like Infosys who show them where the money is. I very much am with Mannina Maga in this issue. Why do you want to take only the extreme views of Mannina Maga. Don’t you think there is some sense in what he is saying? And also don’t forget that he is directly attacking Narayan Murthy, a kannadiga.

    I know that the people from other states are not here to take away our bread. I am sure Mannina Maga agrees too. But the general attitude of the people who have settled in recently, is not right. There are many emails doing rounds how IBM employees prevented Chitra from singing a Kannada song on a bollywood night or how some employees in an IT company sent mass protest emails when the Kannada film industry banned non Kannada films for 5 weeks etc., ..these only makes the locals insecure. People fighting for identity is not uncommon, the biharis werent allowed to get down from the trains in Guwahati, were beaten black and blue and sent back in the next train. Are such things happening here? You can ask anybody, its easiest to adopt to Bangalore as the people are most friendly and helpful. That doesn’t mean that the newcomers should take advantage and suppress the feelings of the kannadigas. You should know better, whenever there’s an overwhelming feeling of insecurity, the city has blazed. Do we all need that?

    I don’t quite agree with your view on Tamil Nadu, it was a revolution…and today, because of that, even a poor Tamilian has the courage to stand up and speak against the mighty not giving a damn about caste/status. We need such revolutions in every state in India and not just prosperity in IT and BPO. I know its irrelavent here.. since you have mentioned about the IT industry being prosperous, I thought I’ll leave a note….for any nation to prosper, salary increase is not the key but reducing the costs is and that is possible by revolutionising all sectors.

  14. Usha Says:

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to expand on your and mannina maga's take on the issue.I am sure your concerns are valid. I will reflect on these.
    What hurts me is the way we seem to divide ourselves on our differences rather than joining hands to fight the issue.
    But before we talk about that, it is only fair that I should think about the valid points you have made.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    @Usha - Please understand that the situation is serious. If we donot take drastic action right now to disperse IT to other parts of the country, bangalore would be consumed and killed by them. Serious crisis situation requires serious actions and serious steps. When such steps are taken obviously some people would be affected. But for the larger good of kannadigas its a price worth paying. I am a kannadiga and have some of my brothers living in chennai. They speak as good tamil as anyone else over there. I want to see Anita bora to speak as good kannada you or me can speak. That will level the playing field for others who dont know english.

    The philosophy is not division but compliance. Believe me, if you live in a city for 2 years and not know the language, that should be rendered unacceptable and life made hell for these people. Thats utterly shameful. I know people who donot speak kannada even after 22 years of existence in karnataka.

    Thats sad and whatever price has to be paid, has to be paid. Extreme crisis situations, require extreme response.

    in this aspect I agree 100 % with Sudharshan.

    To really remove caste from our society it is not just enough to pretend that it doesent exist. We should first of all accept it exist and level the playing field forcibly (includes reservation in private sector) so that over a period of time, the downtrodden caste would really rid themselves of caste in their minds.

    Definitely we dont want to create another caste called "IT". Or has it already been created ?

    mannina maga

  16. Usha Says:

    MM, I understand your concerns about the lopsided "growth" and the attendant evils in its aftermath - matter of serious concern for the government. Let us explore ways of explaining it to the governament - mean time, let us not blame it on fellow citizers simply because they happen to be employed in that sector. They are not aggressors and with the right approach, they can be involved in the whole process rather than being targeted against as an enemy.

  17. Hip Grandma Says:

    your piece set me thinking.i have always loved my Bihari neighbours for their simplicity of heart.where else could a chief minister involved in the fodder scam nearly get away with it ? i dread the day when they may turn around and ask 'are you an outsider?'thanx to our scheming politicians the day may not be far off!

  18. WhatsInAName Says:

    Being a Tamilian, I have been out of Tamilnadu all my life. Being in Mumbai, which is supposed to be the most cosmopolitan city of India, yet I get this kind of feeling every now and then!
    If only, we stopped fighting over the rivers, the language, the religion!

  19. Usha Says:

    WIN: Bangalore was never like this - this is a recent phneomenon and it scares me, the level of resentment.