My essay ‘Passing for Pakistani and the Two-Nation Theory‘ is up at Three Quarks Daily.
I am, supposedly, ‘Hindu’; my wife is similarly ‘Muslim.’ The scare quotes are there because we both regard our supposed ‘religious identities’ as ambiguous; we are not observant, but we were born into Hindu and Muslim families, and thus raised and acculturated into certain norms and cultural rites of passage–and their associated loyalties. (Such looseContinue reading “The Supposed Heritability Of Religion And Nationality”
I often pass for Pakistani. In my zipcode, 11218, once supposedly the most ethnically diverse in the US, it isn’t too hard. I speak Urdu, but perhaps more importantly, given Pakistan’s linguistic and ethnic demography, Punjabi; I am brown-skinned (but not all brown folk are alike for I, given my linguistic capacities, cannot pass forContinue reading “Passing For Pakistani And The Two-Nation Theory”
As a postscript to an essay explicating the theory of special relativity–written at the request of the The Times (London), Albert Einstein wrote: Here is yet another application of the principle of relativity…today I am described in Germany as a “German savant” and in England as a “Swiss Jew.” Should it ever be my fateContinue reading “Relativity and the Immigrant”
Amartya Sen introduces us to his Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny with the following rather well-known little story: Some years ago when I was returning to England from a short trip abroad (I was then Master of Trinity College in Cambridge), the immigration officer at Heathrow, who scrutinized my Indian passport rather thoroughly,Continue reading “Traveling With the Right Kind of Passport”
I became an American citizen more than fourteen years ago. Ironically, my decision to do so was prompted by my leaving the US–for what was supposed to be a two-year stint as a post-doctoral fellow in Australia. I was then a permanent resident of the US, equipped with the famed ‘green card.’ Subject to certainContinue reading “Losing and Gaining Citizenships”
Today is July 4th, Independence Day in the USA. That is some forty-one days distant from another Independence Day, August 15th, which will be celebrated in India. I have not ‘celebrated’ August 15th for many years. It meant there was a political speech being telecast live; prime ministers spoke of national achievement and sacrifice; IContinue reading “A Tale of Two Independence Days”