Did Britishers say that India is a country of snake charmers. Well, there is a debate about its reality. Just like that there are various misconceptions and myths about India around the world. From food to being conservative to religion practices, India is viewed under the prejudice lens. The fact that India is extremely vibrant where not just demographics but entire social fabric changes every 200 kilometers tells you just how much wrong the world knows about us.
Thanks to Oscars and filmmakers, the films that have been able to enlist themselves at the highest platform have projected India as poor, which is the biggest misconception. From Mother India, Lagaan to Slumdog Millionaire, all have projected India as being poor, dingy or a land of villages with hardships. India is a developing nation with a vast population of the poor, but at the same time it has over hundred billionaires. It also ranks 6th among wealthiest nations in the world. Also, the west projects India as a dirty and filthy country where chaos rules the streets. Now, this projection is not totally true. There are multiple towns and cities that have an issue of waste management and garbage collection facilities, but the country is making big strides in making its localities and roads clean due to developing civic facilities. The country is almost defecation free with the Central government pumping more and more resources in the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission. As far as being chaotic is concerned, it is a problem faced by any developing or even developed nations triggered by population explosion, limited resources, large workforce and its mobility.
Another misconception about the country is that it is a land of millions of gods and goddesses and that everybody is a Hindu. Although Hindus form almost 80 percent of the population, still India is a land of various beliefs, and with a population of 135 crore, even the remaining 20% is more than the population of most countries in the world. Apart from Hinduism, the other religions or beliefs that flourish in the country are Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism etc. It is pertinent to also mention here that unlike the West thinks, not all Indians speak Hindi, which is a language of North India and while there are thousands of different dialects of speaking Hindi, India is a land of multicultural diversity and 780 languages with Hindi, Bengali, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu etc. constituting 23 recognised official languages in the country.
To say that India is uneducated is again like saying that all Indians speak Hindi. Literacy is a valid issue around the world and the counties are constantly investing in improving the education system. Similarly, Indians put great value on education and battle hardships to get their children to school as it is the only way to lead a dignified and prosperous life. India produces the world’s finest doctors and that is the reason medical tourism is quite a hit.
Similarly, the stereotype that India is a highly conservative society where dating and love marriages are not allowed doesn’t reflect the reality. Though arranged marriages are most practised in the country, dating or love is no longer a taboo. Infact, online dating services are on a boom very much like social media.
Just as India is a country of great diversity where the entire social fabric changes with each region every 200 kilometers, so is the food. Therefore, Neither all India are vegetarians, nor food is always spicy. Every region and state in India has its own food and nature of spices. The nature of ingredients and use of it depends on the climate. As India possesses all kinds of seasons and climate, the essence or taseer of food items also differ. While cold states like Kashmir eat meat, which keeps the body warm, the western state of Rajasthan includes more spices and buttermilk to stay hydrated.
Having listed various myths and misconceptions about India, it is also essential to understand that every country and its citizens have their own social fabric and such myths only give rise to prejudices. Life is about exploring the World and meeting new people in the process of trying unique things.