The columnist Aakar Patel has recently moved to Bangalore from Bombay. He writes in Mint on why he prefers south India to north India, and south Indians to north Indians. And lists five reasons for this: music, religion, tolerance, intellectualism and language.
1) South Indians have a written classical music. This has enormous implications. It separates them from north Indians who have no canon of music. The average southerner can assess a performance of his classical music better than the average northerner can…. To appreciate Hindustani music other than instinctively, a northerner must study the deep form of his music, which few can.
2) South India’s high culture has little influence of Islam. It is Hindu culture, not a mix. There is not as much secular music in Carnatic as there is in Hindustani. There’s no equivalent of “Ganga Jamuni”, as the northerner refers to his high culture, a mix of Hindu tradition and the aristocratic Perso-Arabic tradition produced during Muslim rule. This might be seen as a bad thing. But the south Indian is actually quite tolerant.
3) The third thing is southern tolerance. Unlike the Baniya’s, the southern Brahmin’s vegetarianism isn’t oppressive. The intolerant and insular Gujaratis and Marwaris of Malabar Hill have banished all meat from their neighbourhoods. There is little sign of such horror of pork and beef eaters around where I live. This may be because the area is not a traditional Brahmin neighbourhood. But generally speaking, the Gujarati’s fanaticism against meat is absent.
4) South’s urban culture is more intellectual. My hypothesis is that this is so because its culture is dominated by the Brahmin. I like keeping the company of Brahmins, I must admit. When I listen to intelligent conversation in Bangalore and look around the table, they dominate. People like U.R. Ananthamurthy would not be treasured in another culture as they are in Bangalore. It seems to me that civic life here is more intellectual, and certainly it strives to be more intellectual than in Gujarat or Maharashtra.
5) The commonly found ability of south Indians to speak another (southern) state’s language. This comes from proximity more than from any pressing desire to be multicultural. But it shows the southerner’s openness, and even his canon of sacred music includes songs from another state, in another’s language.
Read the full article: Why it is better to live in the South
Also by Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is uniformly second-rate