How Khushwant Singh’s Words on Being Indian Still Hold True 

Khushwant Singh’s ‘Why I Am an Indian’ is a perfect reply to those questioning the Indianness of CAA protesters.

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(This story was first published on 2 February 2020 and is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of Khushwant Singh’s birth anniversary.)

A year after the raging debates and uproar over CAA, NRC and NPR, we are still left with the question – Why I am an Indian?

Nearly 50 years ago, renowned author and columnist Khushwant Singh also grappled with these questions. In his editorial, ‘Why I am an Indian’ that appeared in The Illustrated Weekly of India, Singh tried to find answers to this question.

Today, decades later, as the government pushes for the implementation of CAA and NRC, a move that could bring the nationality of millions under scrutiny, the question lingers on.

Singh's words have become the voice of many. His editorial echoes the pain and patriotism of all those whose identities have been in crisis.


Talking about what he dislikes in his country, Singh writes:

I dislike many things in my country – mostly the government. I know the government is never the same as the country but it never stops trying to appear in that garb. This is where I belong, and this is where I intend to live and die.

Talking about his love for the nation, Singh says, “I can scarcely breathe, but I yell, 'Yeah, this is my native land. I don't like it, but I love it!’”


The columnist also writes:

Twice was our Indianness challenged: in 1962 by the Chinese; in 1965 by the Pakistanis. Then, despite our many differences of language, religion and faith we rose as one to defend our country... In the ultimate analysis, it is the consciousness of the frontiers that makes a nation. We have proved that we are one nation.

Writing about all those who question his nationality, Khushwant Singh asks, “What then this talk about Indianising people who are already Indian?  And has anyone any right to arrogate to himself  the right to decide who is and who is not a good Indian?

In today’s times, when we too are pondering over questions about our identities, Singh’s writing holds relevance and serves as a befitting reply to all those who ask– ‘Why I am an Indian’.

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