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'I am a Muslim and I love my country like any other Indian would'

August 20, 2007

Engineering student Zeeshan AliAs India celebrates the 60th year of her Independence, we ask the new drivers of India, her youth, to share their dreams for themselves, and for the nation:

Zeeshan Khan, 21
Engineering student
Bangalore

Is becoming an engineer, doctor or an IT professional everything in life? I believe that every person should have the freedom to chase his dreams without too much parental interference.

My decision may sound a bit strange, especially since I am doing my engineering at the moment, but my goal is to become a wildlife photographer. I know for a fact that not too many people, including my parents, will support my decision, but my plans are in place.

After completing my engineering course, I will definitely work in an IT firm for a few years. I am aware of the expense involved in wildlife photography and I want to earn enough money to pursue my dream.

I am a Muslim and I love my country like any other Indian would. I don't want to boast like the rest and say I will do wonders for my country. It sounds nice when people make grand statements about their commitment to their country. But, as far as I am concerned, that is just talk; in reality, one person cannot really make any difference.

This does not mean I will ignore my country completely. I feel our country's ecological balance is a mess. The city I am from, Bangalore, especially is turning out to be a concrete jungle. There is a desperate need for us to have more nature in this city.

I will plant many trees and coax as many people as possible to do the same. This is what I will contribute to my country; I feel that it is the need of the hour.

Corruption is another issue that haunts this country. But tell me frankly, is it really possible to put an end to it? I may kickstart a campaign against corruption. But I am cent per cent sure there will be a million others doing exactly the opposite of what I am trying to do. I don't want to end up frustrated.

It does upset me to hear that some people from my community are creating terror across the world. I was most upset about the UK terror plot. What are these boys trying? Do they think that they are helping the community in any way?

I know the pain we undergo because of such people. People look at us with suspicion and it is very hard to convince them.

In fact, almost every day, my friends and I discuss how these people are misinterpreting jihad. Why do these people get brainwashed? They don't realise they are only making life difficult for Muslims worldwide; they are not helping them.

I am really scared of going abroad because of these terror plots. You never know what might happen. I hope I get a chance to talk to these terrorists and ask them how they are helping us. I also want to tell them Islam does not preach violence. It stands for peace.

Zeeshan Ali spoke to Vicky Nanjappa. | Photograph: Vicky Nanjappa

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