Some two decades ago, a cousin of mine was married into a Tamil Brahmin family, based in New Delhi.  This girl was born and brought up in Tiruchirapalli, then a small town in Central Tamil Nadu. 

Once she went to New Delhi, it was a rather big culture shock for her.  Her husband wanted her to switch over to wearing the best of ready made sleeveless blouses with sarees that he purchased for her.  He took her straight to the shop, made her wear one blouse and then buy the same.  Since she was newly married my cousin did not object but told her mother-in-law that the dress was totally new to her.

Unlike other mother-in-laws, the lady took to counseling her, telling her that it was pretty common to wear such a type of dress in New Delhi and that she would herself wear them most of the time!  The very next day, she herself wore a sleeveless blouse and helped my cousin to get used to wearing one of the blouses her husband brought for her.  The husband told my cousin that she looked so beautiful in that dress and my cousin was just too pleased.

In fact, in the next few months, my cousin started liking her dress so much that when her parents visited her in New Delhi, she wore it and told her mother that she liked to wear it.  Her mother was another broad-minded person even though she was not highly educated.  She not only told her to wear it, but also told her to wear it daily to work, as she got a job of an junior accounts officer in a local export house. 

Two broad-minded women made things so easy for my cousin.  Now into her late forties, she still wears sleeveless blouses on occasions like weddings, and other social functions.  Her own son, brought up for several years in New Delhi, likes the dress very much and often tells his mother that she looks so stunning beautiful in it.  Her Army husband, who took voluntary retirement, is now into business and the entire family is one very broad-minded family.

What exactly is broad-mindedness?  It simply means that we allow our minds to open up, our hearts to open out and we become more transparent, taking things very naturally and giving extreme importance to the feelings and emotions of others.

Today, when I have taken to wearing ear-rings in both my ears in the ancient Tamil tradition, not only have my family members approved it, but my own relatives tell me to stick to it, and not give up even when someone makes fun about it. The very foundation of broad-mindedness is well laid out and things look very simple and nice, when things are so smooth.

However, in politics and public life, such broad-mindedness is getting very rare.  We do not have many politicians who will give and take. There are inter-State disputes on language issues, and even water.  Tamil Nadu wants water, and Karnataka does not give it.  Kerala and Tamil Nadu, fight for the Mullai Periyar river water.

Worse, the language issue has become a bitter one.  The Hindi fanatics from the North of India, like to believe that only those who speak that language are "national' and "patriotic".  They refuse to see any logic in learning the only global language that now unites over ninety per cent of the world -- English.  To them, English remains enemy number one.  

It is ridiculous to argue that Hindi can be the only sole national language.  Imagine a situation where all schools, in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, forget Tamil and Malayalam, respectively, and switch over to teaching all subjects in Hindi.  This is ridiculous and it should not,  and never will, happen. 

But this is exactly what our Hindi friends keep saying, day in and day out.  Banish English, and make Hindi the sole National language.  Let students learn only in Hindi. This is  a very narrow minded view of the language problem, that is really a threat to national unity.  We cannot allow such narrow-mindedness to simply take away, all that is good, in our country.

Similarly, the politicians of North India seem to be fighting over very petty things.  It is a statement of truth that many violent incidents have happened, just because women have no access to toilets.  Instead of going full blast and constructing as many toilets as possible, the entire political class has entered into useless debates on the subject.

In fact, many corporate houses could be roped in to construct good toilets in many villages, as well as educate villagers on the need to have modern toilets within their own homes, so that crimes against women can be reduced.

A new breed of what is called social entrepreneurs is now taking up many causes and a whole lot of people are now engaged in the art of inclusive growth, by making some trained skills of specific target groups as a very viable commercial proposition, but not a very commercial proposition.  The social objective is in-built into the program.  Details of such initiatives are regularly reported in the business press, particularly Outlook business.

The entire philosophy of social entrepreneurship is so much of a very broad minded philosophy.  It is a superb thought to think of a business proposition, that is not only labor intensive, but also very much inclusive.  A rural Business Process Outsourcing unit, in  a rural area, for example, provides gainful employment to hundreds of educated youth, who are computer literate, but can operate with the bare minimum of knowledge of English, and a good grounding in the local language.  There is enough scope for this noble initiative, and this will arrest the movement of people from the rural to the urban areas.

We need to embrace broad-mindedness like never before.  We cannot treat everything with a narrow minded perspective.  The social media is a big thing that is bringing about broad mindedness, but everything should be within decent limits.  No single person should be allowed to cross decent limits.

When the entire society is broad-minded, and gives due importance to others' views, cultural norms, and such other things, there will be a big movement for the better.  We should make this happen.


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