I am a kid of Corporate America … even though I was born and raised in India.
I drank Coke or Pepsi, ate Americanised Pizza and waited for the day that McDonalds would open in my city.
I played with G.I. Joe’s and not with Jai Jawan Rathore (this doesn’t even exist).
It most certainly threw a wrench into how I thought I identified with myself. I was a citizen of India, born and raised, my ancestors took part in the freedom struggle and fought for the identity of a country.
The next few generations saw migration to the West, vying for visas and the fabled foreign passport.
What does it even mean to be a citizen?
The term ‘citizen’ came from the Greek city-states. It meant that an individual had certain rights and duties. Although, this definition did not include women and further recognised slavery. Following which came feudalism that established a class system within our species; of Subject and His King and Servant and His Lord. It was during the Renaissance period when the shift took place between being subject of a King to a citizen of a city-state or nation. Yet this format of governance still carried with it the innate ability to discriminate amongst our own species.
While the term ‘citizen’ has been modernised to cover a larger array of rights and individuals that can potentially claim to be such a ‘citizen’; the common factor has always been a foundation in geographical location. The concept of citizenship has been developed and modified so much that it scarcely will be able to recognise itself.
Yet how can such a term be used to be the basis of governance?
Looking above, citizenship comes at a cost of control. As a citizen we surrender control to our ‘representatives’ . Either of the above aspects of a system of governance requires ‘faith’ instead of ‘doubt’.
Democratic populations have allegiances to the ones they vote into power and rarely do they reciprocate. Why should we associate ourselves with the people we have voted into power? It is their job (literally) to fulfil their promises to those who voted for them while reassuring those who didn’t vote for them that things are moving forward.
But in this day and age politicians seem hell bent on proving their nay-sayers right and embarrassing those on their side.
So is it purely a matter of control?
Every civilisation preceding ours has dealt with the battle between order and freedom.
Today, we our subservient to our bank’s demands, we live our lives on credit and more importantly money is not just currency but it is the factor that determines status, credibility and justice in our society. Our information is controlled and in some cases even manufactured to obfuscate the reality or cater to the needs of the news outlet’s masters.
The film National Treasure, starring Nicholas Cage, has research involved within the plot. The “bad guys” use Yahoo and the “good guys” use Google. Welcome to the new Empire.
We actually have no idea nor a means of knowing who is actually controlling us. We no longer know the line between who serves us and who we serve. Worse still, some of us are painfully aware that we will always be servants … As a populace we will always be subjugated by the powers that be …
But if we cling to being ‘citizens’ then the foundation of our point becomes subjective. And anything that has a subjective basis will collapse …
We can draw lines or build walls, we can build bridges with or without tollbooths, we can go to space at Rs.7/km or produce a movie of going to space at more …
We can do a lot of things when our collective minds are applied.
But truth be told, we are the only species that discriminates amongst each other whilst thinking about the rights of other species.
So if the word ‘citizen’ can mean a whole bunch of things, and the rights and duties of being one can change, then shouldn’t we be thinking as a collective ???
If citizenship is a social contract and contracts are drafted envisaging that it will be broken; where are we heading?
So has it been nice being a ‘citizen’ ?
Well the question we should actually be asking ourselves is; “What does it even mean to be a citizen?”