The dictionary defines Cosmopolitan as “Having constituent elements from all over the world or from many different parts of the world” and Bengaluru, dubbed as Asia’s Silicon Valley has always thumped as being cosmopolitan.
But the last one week the City’s multiculturalism came under severe pressure with people belonging to the North East were targeted in what seemed to be a scare tactic which started through mobile texting and later on spilled on to Social networks.
What happened next was unprecedented and it kicked of one of India’s first of its kind of mass inter-state migration and as TV channels beamed grainy images of men, women and children of North East rushing to Bengaluru Rail Station and some risking their life and limb by squeezing through express trains to reach their homes in Assam and elsewhere and some holding placards- “We are also Indians’ shocked the collective consciousness of the nation.
Â Anyone visiting Bengaluru will figure out in minutes that it is a highly multi-cultural society, but it does not mean there is no friction among natives and the ‘so called outsiders’. For instance, the Tamils and Keralites make up for sizable population in Bangalore and they have co-existed in harmony with the locals for ages. But Bengaluru did have fringe right wing political elements that often times create some element of disharmony among people.
Â In the past the ensuing Cauvery River water dispute between Tamilnadu and Karnataka over many times in the past had put numerous Tamils living in the Bengaluru in a tight spot. For instance there were events like theaters screening Tamil films being mobbed by protesters and Tamil neighborhoods targeted for attacks or bused bound from Tamilnadu being pelted with stones. But these are very isolated incidents and never reached a boiling point like the one we had seen in the case of North Easterners.
Are we really Secular and Multicultural?
But the larger question many are asking at this point in time is that is Indians becoming insular and giving to much importance to statehood and getting mired in identity politics? We have seen in Mumbai the local verses outsider issues and the water disputes between States had seen similar uprisings. While many in Bengaluru would argue that this is just an aberration and not reflection of any wide spread dis-content among people, it nevertheless spoils the whole image of the ‘so called melting pot’ where people across all states shared a common bond fostering good neighborly relations. Many in Bangalore blame the right wing political parties for playing this thing and voice their skepticism against the government for not acting swiftly. But at the end of the day events like these clearly dents the image of the city and one only hopes the Governments across India firmly deals with right wing political outfits that indulges in such heinous acts.