United We Stand

There are a million reasons which could be found for dividing people, but very few for uniting them.

Some of the dividing reasons pertain to race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, caste, etc., Most progressive nations have tried to equalize these reasons except for the purpose of identity. There is no special reason why a person of one specific category should be preferred over a different person, for achieving a specific purpose. Nations should have one uniform code for all their citizens – whether legal or social or religious. People should have no unnecessary categorizations or “walls” which distinguish them from others in the same society.

I find that when I belong to a particular group, such as my school/class alumni group, or my college alumni group, the divisions that existed before vanish due to the camaraderie and the need to connect with each other, regale the group with old memories, joke on current world affairs, et al. There is hardly any discussion on topics which divide us – we are composed of people of different religions, castes, and even living in different countries for a long time. This means that we all generally tend to believe that there is an apparent rationale behind uniting even beyond our existing differences, for the cause of common good and rejoicing. Being part of a class in a school or a college has such a strong pull.

The same strong pull exists when one belongs to a religion or a caste system. I am not denying that fact. However, the need to belong is far less justifiable despite its apparent strength. While one may be lucky to surround oneself with successful people from his/her own caste or religion (which happens), there is no strong reason that is necessarily good as compared to another group which is not focused on a caste but is just composed of golf players for example. The composition of such a group, by design, is made up of successful professionals or businessmen of different backgrounds of all kinds, who have a collective objective of having a good time on the golf course and improving their handicap. Such a group then enhances each person and ensures each person contributes to the collective success, with the possibility of business alignment in future with a reference value.

While there is nothing wrong with a group made up of a particular religion or caste, or colour, the need to associate should not be driven by the need to align with an ideology, with the end goal of deriving comfort by association. We see the effects of such groupism and the bad impact on several countries in today’s world. This very same strong need to associate precludes many others from the same group, because of their religious inclinations or because they do not wish to participate in any case. Either way these excluded or precluded folks become “enemies” of the particular group, thereby causing dissensions and creating a need for appropriate counterbalance.

In the end, it is very clear that divided people fall – there are any number of examples for this argument. Even people of the same ethnicity or religion have been defeated because they were divided, either amongst themselves or divided by an external force (a good example here is India falling to the British in the 18th Century). There is nothing like a united people – the argument here is that a strong united people will defeat any divisive ideologies from splitting them. People need to see the benefits of a union. Agents of religion or government or caste or political party should not be in a position to divide people for their benefit, and it is unfortunate that this is happening in the world today, even after all the growth which has brought us successfully into the 21st Century.

People can get united if they see the strong rationale which should be based on a benefits argument for union. If they perceive weakness in the logic, then it would become easy for them to retreat into their shells, which then divide them within their own society. Any intelligent government should never allow this to happen, as a reversal towards a strong union will take a long, long time. The whole thing is based on trust, and a recognition of the fact that there are excellent benefits to be had in the union, and a huge amount of risk in case they are divided for ever.

People who know me well have apparently recognized by now the logic of all the above arguments. I see strength in a union of people, even across nations. But then national priorities take precedence, and it becomes almost impossible to achieve an elegant solution to the world’s problems. You then realize why cross-cultural teaming is very difficult when there is no rationale or logic which unites the people of even different kinds.

There is more to come on this topic soon, given the status of our ever-dividing world which is causing divisions all around us.


Vijay Srinivasan

26th February 2017


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