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Fading cultural pluralism

Fading cultural pluralism
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Zeenat Manzoor

Cultural pluralism is a beautiful attribute in a society that leads to the promotion of coordinated and harmonious relationship among the people. And it is this relationship that contributes to love, peace, and harmony. Cultural pluralism helps to preserve the unique traditions, identities, and languages of the many cultures within a society. It makes a society culturally rich that results in greater tolerance, less prejudice, and discrimination – that form the basic characteristic of a successful society and nation. Previously, we would take pride in being rich in culture, however; with growing materialism, our outlook has changed. Anti-cultural people can be found harbouring prejudice for other communities. But, when a teacher – the builder of nation exhibits such approach, it is obviously very unfortunate.

A few days back I was on my internship. I chose a place far away from my home. Actually, I wanted to meet new people and was quite eager to know things about their livelihood besides getting a new atmosphere to enjoy internship. I was very excited to have an advanced experience. I packed my bag and left home early in the morning of 13th September. On the same day, I was there in Dardsun Kupwara – this place was completely unknown to me. The place was not so beautiful as compared to other places I had visited before. People around were completely unfamiliar to me. Since I belonged to other community that was the reason I was not feeling comfortable with them. Different questions were posed to me, which I managed to answer very frankly. Next day I joined the school, things were normal. I cherished every moment with friends, students, and all others. But things abruptly changed for me as I found myself befuddled with new experiences. After attending the class on Friday 14 September, I was sitting in the office with other staff members, a discussion was going on over the teaching profession and challenges faced by teacher. While I was putting my views forward, a teacher passed comments that sounded very unpleasant and was insulting to me. Things went out of control, when I heard some rude remarks pertaining to my dressing, even though I was dressed modestly and properly. I evaded the moment by holding my nerves, but upcoming days brought more agony and afflictions for me. I became a center of discussion thereafter, my community, my language, my dress code became a topic of debate in the school, giving me the most hurtful experiences of my life. I began to contemplate about myself, about my community, about my culture and even about my fate. I was feeling as if I had made a mistake by coming to this world through my community. I got feelings that I have perhaps committed a crime for belonging to this particular community.

As I was not staying with my family rather at friend’s home, each day and night that I spent there turned horrible for me. I was literally depressed. I was following the dress code suitable to the school environment, there was nothing wrong as far as my conduct was concerned, but I was the only trainee, subjected to this mental torture.  Still, I tried my level best to take corrective measure in ensuring my modest behaviour which I always prioritize most in my life. However, all in vain.
Lastly, what I realised is that there was already an existing prejudice against me, my ethnicity and my culture. At the first I could not believe is this our Kashmir, where we make loud claims of ‘Kashmiriyat’. But later my conscience spoke to me; yes it’s Kashmir where people are characterized by Kashmiriyat, no doubt. Nevertheless, people with such a narrow mindset still exist here.
There would be many other girls, silently enduring tormenting approach and struggling to maintain their reputation among others, but I preferred to put this harsh treatment that it faced into my words to make it clear that materialistic progress is not worthwhile unless we develop progressive ideas and perspectives. Importantly, we can’t flourish unless we build a progressive social fabric by embracing all the people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, and ethnicity. As our progress lies in plurality.

Author can be mailed at zeenatmanzoor8@gmail.com.

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