An Indian Passport and Indianness

M. F. Husain surrenders his Indian passport and takes up Qatari citizenship. As the drama plays out and now peters out in the media an interesting question to ask is what is it that makes one an India.

Now one could write a book on this subject (not me, I’ve already got a gig going but someone, I’m sure) but here’s a short blog post.

Whether you have an Indian passport or not is a terrible way to look at it. From the Husain media circus, it appears that surrendering the passport was really the event that made him unIndian. In spite of his protestations to the contrary, Barkha Dutt (link to NDTV above) seemed to think that was the case. It so happens that India does not permit dual citizenship. The OCI is not the same as citizenship. If like many other countries like the US, India did permit dual citizenship then Husain could have added the Qatari passport and no one would have cared.

I have many friends who live in India but hold a US passport. I think they would consider themselves Indian.

What about residency? Is that a good criterion? But then there are all kinds of Non Resident Indians. Short stays, long stays, those that are waiting for the kids to go to college to return. And then there are those who don’t intend to go back but still feel very connected to India.

I think that its just silly to try to draw these boundaries, and affix labels. Let’s just celebrate a shared culture with great diversity within it and fuzzy boundaries at the edges.

And it is downright hypocritical to celebrate Sunita Williams as one of our own, but decry M F Husain surrendering his passport as abandoning his country.

1 Comment

  1. Chris says:

    Totally agree. Whenever someone of Indian descent achieves something significant, its is always held up as an 'Indian success" – even if that person, their parents, and maybe their grandparents, have never even been to India. 🙂


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