Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

`Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani'

I returned from Malaysia. At the airport I saw many persons of Indian origin (PIO). The Indian Government recognises any person holding a non-Indian passport, who can prove his Indian origin up to three generations, as a PIO.
This also includes people who have never visited Indian for up to three generations. But citizens of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other countries as may be specified by the central government, are not eligible for grant of PIO card or status. The Tamils of Sri Lanka come under this restriction.
Malaysia has a large Tamil population from both India and Sri Lanka. During my return flight I was thinking about the comment made by the cabbie that he often felt that he would have been much better off mentally in he were staying in India as he would have a strong sense of belongingness and peace of mind. He said one should always live in the country of his or her origin. This piece of wisdom, I think, holds true for all the Indian diaspora.
I have personally seen the members of the 
Sindhi community in Latin America who speak only in Spanish and Sindhi. Similarly, the taxi drivers staying in Jackson Heights in New York, the Punjabi farmers in Canada, those from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh who have now settled in South Africa and of course my Bengali brothers in UK, on being introduced they would initially distance themselves from India. But the moment you make them feel comfortable, they will open up and confide in you that at the end of the day they would love to live in India.
Pakaj Udhas’ Chitti aayi hai… the most popular song in the Indian restaurants around the world where live music has replaced Manoj Kumar’s Hai preet jahan ki reet sada … I am not including those Indians who have made it really big abroad and equate India with dirt and filth, no hygiene, corruption etc., however, when it comes to choosing brides for their sons they turn to India.
The PIOs who happen to be the members of the working class and have settled abroad few generations back really suffer from this pain of living away from India or the land of their origin. This is mainly because they feel that despite their long stay they are at best the second-class citizens in these distant lands.
I wonder people who have been thousands of miles away from India and for very long time still listen to Tamil, Bengali or Punjabi songs, watch Indian movies, read Tagore, worship Gandhi 
ji, perform age old Indian traditional wedding and funeral rituals. It is a fact that Indian history, culture and films bind Indians together.
ess bee

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