Sunday, May 09, 2010

The "Born" Identity

No I didnt get the spelling of "Bourne" wrong. This post has nothing to do with the fantastic Matt Damon movie, but is rather my take on various identities we are assigned when we are born. Ever since I was posted overseas and after i started interacting from people from other racial and cultural backgrounds there is this comparative study that goes on inside my head where I stack up "what it means to be indian?" against "what it means to be malaysian/chinese/singaporean/australian/whatnot?".

These internal "culture" ratings took place multiple times and most of the times I ended up concluding that "Its a good thing to feel proud about being an Indian" or "Its a good thing to be proud about being a Malayalee". I even remember Shashi Tharoor tweeting that "He was proud to be a Nair". Now, I dont know whether he was aiming the Nair votebank or whether he is genuinely proud of his heritage. But I've recently concluded that it is totally NOT OK to feel "proud" in these regards. I would phrase my stand as follows

I am NOT proud of being an Indian/Malayalee/Brown/etc. I am just HAPPY that I am these things. Now there is a big difference between being "proud" about something and being "happy" about something.

I insist that it is inappropriate on my part to be proud of the fact that I am Indian simply because i did not CHOOSE to be indian. I did not CHOOSE to be a malayalee. I did not CHOOSE to be born in a Hindu/Nair family. I have no recollection whatsoever of filling out an application form that said "Yes sir..ill take that family down in south india to be born into. Seems like a solid place". I just happened to be born into my family.

I can be proud of the fact that I run linux for eg because that is something I choose to do unlike my nationality or caste or former religion. Heck you can even be proud about winning the lottery because you atleast made a choice to invest some money and play. Dont be proud about something you had no call in. Be happy about the fact that you belong to whatever country/race/${identity} you belong to. But thats it for me, no pride, none..zip.
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