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Home > News > Columnists > Raja Baradwaj

Will the real Indian please stand up?

December 07, 2007

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We Indians have a fixation, I would call it a disease. Everything of Indian origin is Indian and likewise everything of Tamil origin is Tamil. Our politicians over a period of time have conveniently fooled us into believing this wrong notion.

I am an Indian (passport holder) and my mother tongue is Tamil; Tamil has been our mother tongue for the last seven generations I am aware of. That should be at least 300 years. But still I don't think the politicians of Tamil Nadu consider me a Tamil; they would take pride in calling me Aryan because I am a (Tamil) Brahmin. But they would consider someone settled in Malaysia some 100 years ago Tamils & Indians, because they speak Tamil.

I am neither arguing on behalf of the Malaysian government nor speaking against the Indian government's concern for the freedom of expression in Malaysia, but I am against terming them Indians.

For, they used to be Indians hundreds of years ago. Now, they are as Malaysian as any ethnic Malay. Anyone who has lived in a country for a period should allow him/her to be assimilated into that culture. If this assimilation doesn't happen, then conflicts happen. The case points for this are Fiji and Sri Lanka [Images]. Through this article let me take you through who else is Indian.

Sunita Williams [Images] is still Indian. While she was on a personal visit to India, we saw political parties fighting to honour (and to meet) this Indian for having been to space.

Sunita was born in Ohio. She was educated in the United States and she went to the space representing the US space agency NASA [Images]. What is Indian in all these? The most Indian aspect is that her father was an Indian. She is Slovenian from her mother's side. Do Slovenians consider her to be a countrywoman? No, they are busy minding the problems they have. If that is the case the natural question that arises is 'Is the Indian government jobless? Are they doing enough to take care of the Indians (citizens)?' I leave the answer for this question to the reader.

We Indians are proud of Bobby Jindal, the governor-elect of Louisiana. What is Indian about him except his ancestry? He calls himself (and insistsĀ on being called) Bobby, although all his legal documents still call him Piyush. To add to the name many more things have changed about him. One only needs to read a recent article by the eminent Shashi Tharoor about Bobby Jindal to understand more about him. We still conduct havans and yagna for Bobby's victory. Why? Because, he is Indian! What an irony! How many of us even cared to pray once for Shashi Tharoor, when he stood for the United Nations secretary general's election? Maybe we forgot to because he is actually Indian.

Those were two examples of us Indians celebrating people of Indian ancestry, there are many more like Anerood Juganath, Basdeo Pandey, Vikash Dhorasoo. Before I close, let us see another example. Did Italy [Images] protest when Sonia Gandhi [Images] didn't become the Indian prime minister (this is a debatable topic, some would say she refused to become. I wouldn't get into that debate). No, they did get into it or didn't even release a statement on this because they considered it to be India's internal issue. Sonia for them is Indian.

After having said that, the next question would be, do we at all help each other (the fellow Indian in the street)? The answer would be an emphatic no. I have suffered because of my fellow Indians refusing to help.

This was five years ago when I was involved in a bad hit and run accident in Chennai. It was a Sunday evening with only a few shops open in that area. No one even cared to come near me, leave alone helping. I was very thirsty, I had a 100 rupee note in my hand asking a teashop guy to fetch me a bottle of water. His reaction was amazing, one I would never forget in my life. Yes, he hurriedly closed his shop and ran away. So this is what we do to Indians living in India but our heart pains when someone who was Indian about decades back is in trouble. Aren't we hypocrites?

Let's hope and pray that the fight for the freedom of expression by a section of Malaysians prevail.

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