A land of many colours . . .
While U.S.-India relations stand at a crossroads, it is pertinent to reflect upon the diverse social and cultural identities of the people from this South Asian country, particularly in light of the rising number of immigrants from India to Canada. The buzz around ‘Holi,’ the festival of colours, has already begun in various parts of Canada, and around the world. A popular Indian festival held around March 10 this year, Holi marks the arrival of spring and is usually celebrated by smearing powdered colours on friends and family. Curiously, what started off as a Hindu festival has taken on a multicultural and inter-religious identity today. Such a mixture of culture, norms, and events is not wholly uncommon in India.
Religious divides run deep . . .
India has always been hailed as a land of multiple languages, diverse cultural identities, and many religions. But recent events under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government are raising questions about whether India is becoming a “Hindu nation” and an “intolerant India.” Since Sunday, with Trump’s tour ongoing, violence has broken out on the streets of New Delhi. The clash between two groups of protesters, one against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the other for the new law, has reportedly resulted in at least 25 deaths. The CAA, which has been criticized for its religious discriminatory nature, has sparked protests, sometimes violent, since November 2019. In addition to the CAA, India has also come under fire for policies that have directly or indirectly violated human and constitutional rights, such as the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the implementation of a National Register of Citizens in Assam and the associated building of a detention centre for undocumented migrants, and the vulnerable Transgender Persons Act, 2019.
A can-do culture . . .
While political and economic crises in India tend to dominate the headlines, the ‘startup nation’ has much to offer the world, including innovative new ideas. Take, for instance, the city of Mumbai’s response to noise pollution from car horns: the city’s new traffic lights system essentially punishes drivers who honk incessantly by keeping red lights on longer. Canada and India, meanwhile, share a strong bond in terms of diaspora and history, and have taken measures towards building deeper socio-cultural relations, including the establishment of sister-city relationships that help promote economic and cultural ties between cities like Calgary in Alberta and Jaipur in Rajasthan.
- Foreign Policy: The 3 Most Polarizing Words in India
- The Guardian: Delhi protests: death toll climbs amid worst religious violence for decades
- US News: 10 Things to Know About India