To me Pravasi always meant traveler
So ideally Pravasi Divas should be about Tourists, or if we are talking Indian here, it should be about the travelling Indian, well close enough, Pravasi Divas is about the migrant Indian, who has either given up or on the verge of giving up his/her Indian Citizenship. Oh! he/she is still rooted enough to an Over Seas Indian card..
Jan 9th, is celebrated as the Pravasi Divas and it is supposed to acknowledge the contribution of NRI’s to India.
The skeptic in me, pops high up I wonder if we are talking only about the NRI’s shown in Hindi movies, or do we have the courage to own up to the vast population of the indentured labourers that we find in Guyana, South Africa, Mauratitius and other countries.
When my parents went to states, they were at the Nigara falls, when some one commented if they were Indians, my cousin who accompanying replied,
”Well, my guests are Indians, but I am American.”
We have gated communities at Hyderabad, and Bangalore, where Americanism so strong that the children celebrate Halloween, they so totally identify themselves with that.
I AM NOT saying that it is a bad thing, after all kids brought up in Delhi are most comfortable with that environment, like the 4th generation of Pandya’s in Udupi are more comfortable speaking Tulu and Kannada than Gujarati’s.
Coming back, to the indentured labourers, are we willing to accept that there were women who entered relationships with their white overseers as that meant a little more money, a more comfortable life for the their off springs. Many times, the men were left behind in Bihar or wherever they went from so the woman did get into other relationships. Swamps and insect ridden habitat was their reality. Are we willing to acknowledge their sacrifice for the family they left behind in India?
Their traditions, rooted in the year of their migration, and nurtured in the land they migrated too, has its own unique flavour and identity, one cannot call them Indians any more. Maybe at best we call them of Indian origin.
The first generation that migrates, stays clinging to their roots, the second generation, begins with weaning. They compromise on the or rather turn symbiotic and the third generation does not belong to the roots, it is an independent new form that is conceived, nurtured and flourished in a new environment.
Honestly I think we should let the NRI’s be, what they choose to be No-way Returning Indian, it is time we acknowledged the people who are in the country striving to exist and more than that create growth.
This year Bangalore gears up to host the “Pravasi divas” the day MKGandhi returned from South Africa, the day we look at the productive export the country had achieved from indentured labourers, to the white collared or is it the blue collared soft guys.