Nandita Das

A Citizen of the World

  • October 25, 2005

It has been a while since I blogged. Life in general, and being at home, took the better of me! For now, I would like to share an email that a friend of mine sent to me. Rahul Dholakia, a very sensitive film maker has recently finished a film called Parzania, a heart wrenching film that shows the futility of violence. He sent me this last night.

This November, as I qualify to be an American Citizen, I ponder the pros and cons of taking one step towards giving up a citizenship of one country and taking on another. At a time when every one I know is struggling to find their identity, in a world which is coming closer technologically but the gap is widening ideologically, a few thoughts come by me. The first and foremost being, why should I have to be a citizen of a country- why can’t I just be a citizen of the world?

I was born in India and migrated to America. In the last decade, I have visited a lot of countries and absorbed from many cultures. I find it hard to have to decide as to why I have to belong to a particular country and be labeled as an Indian or American?

To answer this question, one must logically answer another one, which is what role does the government play in an individual’s existence? Centuries ago, when people were free to roam and travel the world, invade or settle as they pleased, were the role of governments any different? People paid taxes and the rulers provided a safe and free environment for its people to coexist. Things are no different today save the addition of a fancy slogan- “Taxes at Work- Providing Infrastructure for a better tomorrow.”

While the governments provide you infrastructure, are we really free? What good are the cities we build, if we kill the people living in them because of color, race or religion? What good are the schools kids attend, if they can’t get a decent meal leave alone a basic education; what good are the hospitals we take our parents to, if we can’t afford the health care needed? Why are governments in the garb of martyrdom, killing the essence of life?

A very relevant but boring issue concerned with Citizenship is that of Patriotism. Even as being an Indian, I am told that the Muslims in India are unpatriotic because they hang Pakistani Flags or burst fire crackers when India loses in a cricket match; so if I argue in their favor- I am unpatriotic. If this logic were to hold, then all Indians who march down Madison Avenue with Indian Flags on August 15th, in spite of being American Citizens should be unpatriotic. Every Indian watching a match at Lords who cheers for the men in blue in a match against England is unpatriotic; every American who points a finger at the invasion of Iraq are unpatriotic… the list goes on. Quite honestly, I think patriotism is nothing but luxury the rich can afford, a value middle class is forced to follow and an ideology the poor are clueless about.

How difficult or easy is to be a citizen of the world?

Virata Parvam


Director: Udugula Venu

Language: Telugu

Character Name: Shakuntala

Key Cast: Kundan Alexzed, Chakrapani Ananda, Banerjee

Feastivals and Awards: NA

Film Stills: 9

BTS: 11