To be or not to be an Indian?this is the perennial question before Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). Not to be an Indian is easy. All that you have to do is to marry a native girl and thus cut off your bloodline with India. But to be an Indian, now and for ever? That calls for a role in history. What is the role the NRIs can play? This is no easy question. But it calls for an answer.
The NRIs are no more an insignificant factor in guest countries. In America alone, they are more than two million. They are part of the elite. If the Jews, Germans, French and Italians can maintain their identity, so can Indians. They need not lose themselves in the ?Sea of American humanity?. All that is needed is the reflected glory?the glory of a growing and powerful India. Can India provide it?
There are about 20 million Indians spread over 150 countries of the world today. Can this Indian Diaspora be an asset to the mother country?
They can and they must. They are a powerful force?in patriotism, in nationalism, in commitment to the mother country, in financial resources.
These sons and daughters of India are naturally drawn to the BJP?the only genuine nationalist force in India. They might have left their country in disgust and sorrow, but today they are the proud people, nationalists to the core. They know what it is to have a country to call one'sown and a civilization of which one can be proud.
Bhagwan Gidwani, author of the book The return of the Aryans and an NRI, has confessed that he did not use the term ?Hindu? because of its negative impact. He writes: ??.over the last forty years or so, Hinduism has become an embarrassment for the Hindus?.? Why? Because the NRIs knew little of their religion and civilization. If Hinduism had been a minor culture, it would not have bothered him, he admits. But it is not. Hinduism is ?the best set of ideas produced by human civilization?, he asserts. According to him, ?no religion comes close to it in terms of its open-mindedness, its pluralism and generosity of spirit.?
So, what does he propose to do? Gidwani says: ?What I want to do is to restore a sense of pride about Hinduism among Indians everywhere.? But this cannot be done without a sense of its history, ?which is so little known even to my generation, let alone to our children and grandchildren,? he says.
According to him, Indians abroad live in an emotional island ?surrounded by a sea of western culture, which will soon swallow us, unless we find the resources to resist.?
But, Hinduism, as practiced today in India, offers no hope, no pride, no solace, says Gidwani. A strong judgement on 57 years of rule by Indian leaders! What is more, in matters of the heart, ?it is only ancient India, which confirms the belief that we were great once.? But it helps, for if we were great once, ?we can be great again,? he says.
How? By resuming the quest we began long ago. At the dawn of our history, India started on her unending quest for truth (Hinduism is based on freedom of enquiry unlike Semitic faiths.) and for long centuries are filled with the great adventures of her heart and soul. Through good and evil days, she has not lost sight of this quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength.
The soul of India can never die. For, as Dr. Radhakrishnan says, whenever this quest was threatened great souls were born to restore the quest.
Such a man was Gandhi. Such a man was Vivekananda. Such a man was Aurobindo. With all his faults, Gandhi was a true Indian. The same cannot be said of Nehru. His soul was under the spell of the west.
The quest of India thus goes on. The NRIs have a role to play in this quest. They are the heralds of a greater India. Aurobindo says: ?I have always held that India was arising not to serve her own national interests only?but to live for God and the world as a helper and leader of the human race.?
There! The NRIs have a mission before them. They have only to pick up the quest that we in India have lost on our way by the exigencies of history.