Who Can We Identify As An “Indian”?

Someone on the Internet responded to a rather contemplative question on who amongst Sonia Gandhi, Sundar Pichai, or Satya Nadella could be considered as ‘Indians’. But this individual’s answer extolled endlessly why Sonia Gandhi was an Indian but not the others who are business leaders on their own merits because today they’re Americans, also including some Nobel prize winners. I smiled because, in reality, I believe that they are all Indians! There’s always a broader perspective to such questions, but personally speaking, my understanding of this argument hangs on two parameters which pertain to ‘technical’ or ‘cultural’ viewpoints. Inasmuch as to call oneself belonging to a certain country relies strongly upon not just one’s nationality but also the genetic and cultural attributes, besides breeding a sense of pride in identifying ourselves with a certain country and culture regardless.

So technically, although she was born and raised in Italy Sonia Gandhi is truly an Indian national. In contrast, Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are culturally Indians by birth and by race but not by their nationalities. Therefore, countless persons like Pichai and Nadella, whether they have settled in the US or relinquished their Indian citizenship, their genetic & cultural identification remains ‘Indian’ so long as they exist, and subsequently, their future generations would continue to display the Indian lifestyle depending on how they have instilled the values. Coming back to the issue of ‘technicality’ on nationalism, there was some certainty that scores of ‘Non-Resident Indians’ would have willfully also continued as ‘Indian’ nationals if India had recognized dual citizenship status, which is not the case today for political or historical reasons. And instead, these NRIs are recognized as having an ‘Overseas Citizenship of India’ and given an OCI card which is beside the point.

Would you die down as an ‘Indian’ just for relinquishing your nationality? Or would you continue to identify yourself culturally & genetically as an ‘Indian’ too? I would dare to characterize an ‘Indian’ as someone who belongs to India by birth, but also identifies with, adopts, and nurtures the ethos of India with its rich tradition, moral fiber, and the respective regional cultural values, anywhere that he or she chooses to call a home. Eventually, I feel, it is not just the Pichais or the Nadellas who are subjected to circle through such an unwarranted controversy, and to put it plainly, so long as their heart yearns for their roots anyone should be okay with recognizing themselves as an “Indian”.