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Multiculturalism

In writing my first blog for 2010 the subject of integration seemed appropriate given my latest gift. Why are we all screaming about Hispanic immigration, having to teach Spanish to our children or accepting alternative forms (i.e. non-Christian), of religious expression when the concept of "multiculturalism", as best defined by the well known financial analyst Rajiv Jahangir Chaudhri, dates back to 1947 when India having won its independence from Great Britain invented twentieth century, political multiculturalism?

While on a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, to celebrate the New Year my friend Rajiv explained that if we were to follow by example we would be much further along in the process of integration, a daunting concept to pursue according to many within our political elite yet one we should examine more assiduously. According to the latest CIA report India is the second most populous democracy in the world with a population slightly exceeding 1,198,003,000 and the second largest labor force totaling to date 516.3 million people.

Consisting of twenty eight states and seven union territories India is the world's fourth largest economy. Members of Parliament represent four of the major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and speak twenty eight official languages. On average the Prime Minister usually doesn't speak more than one or two times and is not necessarily the idiom of the majority.

Four ideologically diverse religions: Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam converged during the first millennium and shaped India's diverse culture and traditions. If the history books prove anything it is that a vast and populous multi-ethnic nation such as India can indeed coexist and prosper culturally, technologically and fiscally with a billion plus population while communicating in more than twenty eight official languages and representing four fundamentally diverse religions or philosophies. So why is it so hard for us, an officially secular nation with an estimated population of 308,299,000 who mostly communicate in one language, to educate our children to speak a second language or create a tolerant society who believes in multiculturalism?

As Chaudhri, who is President of Digital Century New York, a financial advisory services company and former analyst at Goldman Sachs who received his MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University points out, one reason might be that "multiculturalism rests with the acceptance and survival of a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-linguistic nation. For India, multiculturalism is about freedom, creativity, self expression and the survival of the universal human spirit". Besides the multi-linguistic component aren't these the same basic tenets our forefathers extolled in our Constitution and those that we continue to strive for in our country?

If I were advising President Obama this would sound like a wise position to take. Maybe if the United States embraces India's multicultural philosophy it can prevent antagonizing other nations on the edge of the political margins while dissuading our political adolescents from pursuing global prepubescent mishaps.

Happy New Year!