Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The curious case of Vishwanathan Anand’s Indian passport

By John Cheeran
Who is an Indian?
If Vishwanathan Anand, who has been living in Spain for many years in order to pursue his passion, chess in this case, ceases to be an Indian merely because of the number of days he has spent in India in recent times, it is an incredibly ludicrous moment thanks to a babu in New Delhi.
Anand, of course, holds a valid Indian passport. Despite that it now has emerged that the human resource department in New Delhi raised doubts about Anand’s citizenship status when Hyderabad University decided to honour him with a doctorate.
Unlike most of us resident Indians, Anand has brought India glory. He has been the most unassuming of champions that India has produced and loves his Tamil, idli and sambhar in that order.
Anand is the finest brand ambassador India could ever attain. It’s true that he had to shift his base to Spain. He finds it more convenient to compete and keep abreast of the game from there. May be tax regime there is a bit more considerate. But he is not living in Pakistan. He has married a Chennai girl. His parents live in Chennai. His friends are in India. His heart is in India. Whenever he has won a world title – right from when he won the world junior chess title in 1987—the country has made him its own.
Let’s not forget that the desperation with which we try to appropriate individual who excel on global stage, especially science. Remember Venkataraman Ramakrishnan? When he won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2009, we were quick to find reference points to India so that we could bask in reflected glory. And he had utter contempt for all of us when he blurted out that congratulatory emails from India only go to waste his time and energy.
Unlike many such worthies, Anand has been modest to a fault and never forgot the fact that in outlook and approach he remains an Indian, though he does not require the state’s patronage to ply his trade.
If Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, LK Advani and I are Indians, Anand, too, is an Indian, though king on the chessboard does not have any nationality.

1 comment:

MKERALAM said...

That is petty bureaucracy. And when you combine with that the institutionalization of the Indian passivity the product of its feudal mentality which is still alive and kicking, you get the answer to the question who is an average Indian in the 21st century.

You have put it aptly that he is 'the finest brand ambassador to India'. But so what?

You forwarded the case logically and with facts. But who needs facts when an average Indian whether he is a minister or a bureaucrat cannot grasp the need for giving respect to another individual in order to get it back.

The average Indians the officials and the politicians included, have no idea about the negativity the country receives when they ill-treat their fellow citizens. This is not how other nations take care of their citizens.

If Visvanathan is not an Indian, the possibility is that he is a OCI or a PIO. And if he is one, is it an offense? Is India not recognizing people in those two categories. Why did the concerned officials felt it appropriate to finish up the formalities before they geared up the granting of a doctorate to him?

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