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A few days back in a discussion about Nepal, South Asia, etc. a friend said to me that I had been affected/influenced (I don’t remember the exact word) by the fact that I had lived and studied in France (for just one year). This was not the first time I was hearing this. People often make these statements in relation to opinions of South Asians. I am sure it has affected my life, I do believe every life experience changes your life’s course somehow. But some people seem to think that the French influence in my life is the reason for my ‘intelligent’ opinions or so I take their comments to mean. To me it suggests that in order to be able to criticise the politics of my country, some aspects of my culture or traditions, I need to necessarily have lived or studied abroad. I know that living away from your country can gie you perspective but I know and love so many people who would disprove that it is necessary to live away to have perspective. This stereotype is fed by the other stereotype of South Asians the ones who are not capable of ‘analytical skills’ who are too driven by ‘destiny’. On one side of the coin is the ‘analytical’, foreign educated, ‘intelligent’ South Asian and on the other side of the coin is the ‘analytical skills lacking’, ‘locally educated’ South Asian. Except that no identity is two dimensional, all identities are a spectrum ranging from one extreme to the other. We see it everywhere yet we forget the simple law of nature that surrounds us -DIVERSITY. There is diversity everywhere, in every country and every village. I am sure there is people everywhere in the world who lack analytical skills even those who have lived abroad. I am sure it is not a South Asian genetic specificity. Conclusion: Diversity is everywhere, what is not everywhere is opportunity. Opportunity has a big influence on self-expression. And Opportunity is political, it is not mere laziness or lack of analytical skills, it is dependent on the choices made by our governments and other governments world over. It depends unfortunately enough to an unbelievable extent still on our belonging to a group, caste, religion, depending on where you live and this is Political! And we can all learn analytical skills, no one was born with them we acquired them along the way, I don’t see why anyone can’t! So lets try to remember DIVERSITY, read, explore and feed this principle. If you identify a stereotype, try to disprove it by finding counter arguments. Meet, read about people who break these stereotypes, and I will do the same.

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