India is a country of snake charmers. It is a land of jungles and Yogis. All the Indians are primitives and barbaric. This was the belief the world had about India, until a few decades ago. Until the information about a throbbing, developing, culturally diverse and rich country became available, India was grossly misunderstood by the world. Thankfully, the scene is changing, and we, the Indians, are now seen in a better light.
But, still, a lot about India remains shrouded in mystery for Indians also. That is because, India is not only a country. it is in fact many smaller countries within a bigger country. Each region of the country has its own culture, language, rituals, beliefs and way of life.
One similar veil of such mystery surrounds around Kutch, a region in Western state of Gujarat. Just like people in the world had misconceptions about India, people within India had similar misconceptions about Kutch. They thought that entire Kutch is a desert and people there live in miserable conditions with a hostile nature to battle one’s daily life against.
All this is away from the truth. Kutch is a district. It is a beautiful land with ample greenery, beaches, historical and religious places. It is as developed as any other part of India, if not more. In last one decade, Kutch has got a lot of new industrial and infrastructure projects. Perhaps, within state of Gujarati, Kutch is growing the fastest.
It has its own rich share of culture, language, craft, beliefs, festivals and history. Many communities of different religious faiths live happily together in this calm and peaceful place. Life in Kutch is beautiful, just like life in any other part of our beautiful India.
Kutchis, as the inhabitants of Kutch are called, are very amiable and loving people. They are famous for their hard work, honesty, friendliness and simplicity. They are an enterprising community. They have spread themselves across the globe. In fact, one will find Kutchis in every country of the world and in every state of India.
Kutch and Kutchis are misunderstood because of the myopic vision of the English media. Angrez mass media in India, which is accessed by hardly 5% the nation’s populations, lives in an ivory tower, away from the realities of a multi-cultural India. Indian English media assumes more clout than it actually possesses. They do not realize that they don’t reach the 95% of the Indian population but still they dream to shape the opinions of those who are not listening, watching or reading them. They create and destroy their own castles built in the air. How in the world will this remote controlled opinion building be possible?
They also do not realize that they are also ignorant of most of the realities of India’s diverse regional varieties. Its journalists assume a power which is as hollow as the fake accent they spit out. Through their well-drafted but poorly researched reports, they take the liberty of maligning and ridiculing all those whom they don’t understand. Kutch and Kutchis are sometimes made victims of this zealous lot of articulate, sophisticated but dumb and ignorant journalists.
Such ignorance is obvious in questions like above. Kutch does not have districts within it. It itself is a district in Gujarat. It is a simple geographic fact. But, to understand Kutch and Kutchis, one needs to get to the ground. Same is true for every region of India and its locals. From ivory towers, we may be able to see the world, but not understand it. We need to get in touch with the reality to understand it.
India lives and grows on its own terms irrespective of what some cynical intellectuals in metro cities may perceive. It is not because of them that India shines, it is in spite of them.