Aatish Taseer and a question of "nationality". A

So much has been written about Aatish Taseer's nationality and most of it is true.

The Government of India acted in a petty and vindictive manner. It also induldged in subterfuge that is shameful.

Worse, it reinforced patriarchy as the only metric to measure the nationality of a person.

But did we stop to think about Taseer and his nationality?

He was by birth, a British citizen. He was never an Indian citizen. An OCI card is basically a liberal visa regime. It allows you to come to India, buy land and enjoy certain privileges, that other immigrants wouldn't normally get.

But what prevented him from choosing to become an Indian, if he so believed in this nation and its destiny?

What prevented him from adding his shoulder to the wheel of building a progressive, liberal and modern nation that is built on its Constitutional principles?

This lack of commitment leads to a two-fold erosion of the values we seek to uphold.

One, it seeks to send us into battles that are unnecessary and diversionary. We spend litres of ink and reams of paper fighting for a cause that isn't moot.

Second, it fails to turn an introspective lens on the subject at hand and his/her behaviour, as well as our own.
Taseer led an extremely privileged life by Indian standards. In New York, he shall continue to live a privileged life by American standards.

Those in India will continue to struggle for fundamental rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution, but not given in spirit or substance.

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There are those like Prof Jean Dreze, who gave up his Belgian citizenship and became an Indian. He wears it proudly, and has spent the better part of his life to make this country better for its most marginalized.

Those are the citizens we must celebrate, defend and aid.

Taseer will go on to write his columns in The Guardian, Time and New Yorker. Dreze will continue to cycle on the streets of Ranchi and Dantewada, fighting for every Indian's right to livelihood, dignity and sustenance.

Choose your causes well. Don't let them become a reflection of your privileges.

@Saikatd Privilege! Such a heavy word! But yes, some of us were privileged, we had fairly easy childhoods; but most of us had parents that were strict & refused to let that get to our heads. We had to earn rights to a lot of stuff, we were taught humility & sharing & caring. We were taught to confront bullies, protect ourselves & others, friends or not. As is the case in the services (was till divisive forces gained a upper hand) there were no differences, religion, community or caste based (1)

@Saikatd

And when you think of this one person denied an OCI card, please DO think of the 19 lakh people now called "foreigners", denied a place they may have called home for almost the last 50 years, and now facing indefinite detention.

@Saikatd Sudha Bharadwaj - who is actually in jail fighting for the oppressed after giving up privileges and not just writing opinion pieces in cool comforts of a distant land.

@Saikatd
Vulnerable communities in Assam being stripped off their citizenship in NRC, People in Kashmir struggling to find a nationality, Minorities being threatened to be thrown out of the national boundaries, Marginalized sections in society who are citizens of this country & are still denied basic human rights, dignity & human life. We can talk so much about privileges & elitism when more than half of the Indian population's fundamental rights are being muzzled each day in name of welfare.

@Saikatd
While the chosen few decides, which is the most favourable position. Still, if there are people like Prof Jean Dreze & Prof Abhijit Banerjee, I think it's enough to restore hope in humanity. There are other silent crusaders as well. We need more of them, people with empathy.
The change can also come from within. We all can be a part of this, may be not by shunning all privileges but understanding that privilege comes at cost of someone's life & we have responsibility towards them.

@BhavanaVarun @Saikatd And to use these privileges to right the wrongs perpetuated over centuries.

@BhavanaVarun I am just finishing a piece that's building on this very thought. Will post in a bit

@Saikatd frankly his earlier novels were an apologia for Brahminism.....
His mom also has been an opportunist...
His imran khan piece was amateurish...
But yes that still doesn't make what the govt did right....

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