I have been fascinated with the presence of so many religions in India. Though their social, economic, and ethnic diversity is also noteworthy, one glance at a world news report and you see that religious differences cause turmoil and conflict all over the world amongst people of the same backgrounds. Thus, religious diversity and tolerance that is demonstrated by the Indian people is that much more meaningful, considering all the other ways in which they are different from their neighbors. Even more significant is how close they are to their neighbors – it’s easy to be tolerant of people you never see (out of sight, out of mind), but rubbing shoulders with people with drastically different beliefs and heritages daily, if not hourly, is that much more noble. But after Madan took time to point out the differences between the Mogul architecture we have seen thus far and Sikhr today, Indian tolerance took on a whole new meaning. For, as he later explained to us, one reason for the great diversity in this country is the legacies which all the diverse rulers and conquerors of India left behind. Though some revered buildings were damaged during wars or have faded after the hundreds of years it has been since they were built, the fact that temples of starkly different religions or backgrounds than the given ruler in power were not destroyed is one of the greatest examples of tolerance, and perhaps is a daily reminder for the people of India.

After digesting said instances of tolerance, the thought of such tolerance by Americans is beyond even our ambitious capabilities. A mere difference in just ONE of the many areas in which Indian people are diverse causes tension, ills, even crimes in our country. Need I say race? Hate crimes? In fact, a difference is interpreted by some Americans as threatening and crucial to avoid. The tension that exists between Democrats and Republicans is enough to make any dormant volcano erupt. Thus, Indian tolerance of not just one level of diversity but all levels, is noble and worthy of much respect by our nation of intolerant people in comparison. Complete conjecture, but perhaps this gives Indians an intellectual edge when competing with fellow students in American universities or competing brands in the global marketplace. I believe immense character building and intellectual growth are amongst many other huge benefits of both communicating with and befriending people diverse from a person. Friends know that I get tense when any hint of politics is thrown into the conversation because we as Americans are so independently minded that differences in opinion are met with opposition, rather than inquisition. I avoid news media because of dramatization and political opinion woven into any and all outlets, no matter how hard the political side to which it sways try to convince the other party otherwise. Given open-minded and cool, calm, and collected friends and family, I enjoy hearing about the news through their different perspectives. Otherwise, how is one supposed to decide on an opinion about a political matter or piece of news, choose a political party, or more importantly, choose politicians to vote for and support? If you don’t know what’s on the other side of a fence, how are you to know it’s bad? We use assumptions and categories because it’s faster and easier but seemingly dangerous when taken in the context of choosing people of the most power politically in our country.