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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

22 February 2004

Hyphenated Hindu !! oh, well,

Here is an interesting link to an article in Outlook. ( btw, please register with outlook / freespeech to access the pages. It is free. )

The writer describes herself as hyphenated Hindu. read more to understand what she means.

A lot of young people feel this way today. I agree with almost all the view points therein. In fact I used to feel agitated too whenever I needed to fill the coulmn - religion / race in any form. Every country in the world has a column called " race" ( correct me if I am wrong) in its forms for Passport/ visa and any other significant documant. More so, if it is somehting that relates to identification of nationality. In India we have extra column called caste. I used to be very irritaed to find this column of "division" in any form.

However, when I read a particular passage in this article where the writer talks about filling "Indian" instead of "Hindu", a different dimension to the whole issue dawned on me.

OK. I can claim myself as Indian" instead of Hindu in the column which asks my identification as per my religion of birth. But that one simple entry of a name doesn't erase the Truth - that I am born to parents whose ancestors were Hindus / or Muslims / or Christians/ or whatever?

and then my doubt number 2. "Indian", again is an identity. I, in a larger perspective, feel global person, not belonging to any particular country. - more so when I live in several countries across the world ( no. not exactly me:-) but many individuals do live like that today - as global citizens) So, what identity should I use to describe myself? If I am a person of Tamil origin born in Sri Lanka, live in Australia with my wife from Japan and I have a business interests in Seattle - therefore have a home base in US, how do I describe myself? A Srilankan? A Tamil? or an Indian? ( though India has nothing to do with any aspect of my life today?) what race do I write in the Race column of the immigration forms? But I have to give an identity for logistic purposes. So, I give one - depending on my "nationality" documents.

Similarly perhaps, I can fill up this called "religion" as Hindu, Muslim, or Chiristian or whatever, according to my actual status of birth - just another logistic piece of info for the records office - like height, weight and address. My faith can be independent of what I claim in my records. Faith is more related to inner feelings and doesn't have the logistics problems :-) Nothing prevents me from having multiple faiths - but for records, I must cite one. Just as I have to mention one country as " Nationality".

P.S: Dual nationality is another story :-)


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