Even as she received a manna from the Telangana Chief Minister in the form of appointment as Brand Ambassador of the state, the ace tennis star is caught up in a whirlpool of acrimonious controversy. The ruling TRS members defended their Chief Minister by recalling Sania Mirza’s status as a sport’s icon of the country besides her family’s long-standing association with Telangana.
Others chipped in, ‘she has a better claim to be a brand ambassador of Telangana than Amitabh Bachchan has of Gujarat’; ‘No, one should decry a sport’s icon’s appointment’; ‘It is sheer bigotry to oppose this honor conferred on a Sport’s Icon’; ‘This should not be seen from a narrow political perspective’
Local women’s organizations went full throat in defending Sania’s appointment as Telangana’s Brand Ambassador contending that any opposition comes from the orthodox and age-old male chauvinistic mind-set.
Sania Mirza may be a little peeved at all the controversy surrounding her appointment as Brand Ambassador, triggered by some local BJP leaders recalling that the Sport’s Icon is also Daughter-in-law of Pakistan, implying that she is more of a Pakistani than Indian, as she is married to the Pakistani cricketer, Shoaib Malik.
But then there is no dearth of defense: Sania plays for India; she won for India two grand slams, 15 ATP’s among others, she ranks 5th in doubles and her best single’s rank is 27 that no Indian woman emulated in the past or present. She set up a tennis academy in Hyderabad, India not it Pakistan or Dubai. She did not relinquish her Indian citizenship; and above all she claims she would always remain the Daughter of India and laments that it is painful to prove her Indian credentials time and again.
There indeed is no adequate response by the BJP leaders to these assertions which would easily carry the day for the sport’s star in any court of law. The only point her detractors make is if Sonia Gandhi is considered Indian in virtue of her being ‘Daughter-in-law’ of India, the same logic applies to Sania Mirza. As daughter-in-law of Pakistan, she should be considered a de facto Pakistani (!) implying that it is shameful to appoint a Pakistani for a high profile position in India.
How do we reconcile these positions?
True, BJP’s stand can be brushed aside, for, the technical and legal side of the case is preponderantly strong. Indeed, civilized pretentions constrain one to this latter imposing conformity to social respectability. Yet, Sania Mirza’s transnational liability is real, it is part of the problem, and not a myth to be wished away. More so, she married Shoaib by breaking a prior engagement, thereby demonstrating her deep-seated love for him.
And somebody who love’s his/her spouse loves his/her likes and dislikes, loves his/her family, and in case of transnational marriages loves his/her country too. And for a girl, more than for a man, it is a state of DIVIDED LOYALTY. She loves her family, her parents, but she also wants to be one with her in-law’s family, love them and ultimately integrate with them.
Marriage is surely a personal choice but its ramifications go much beyond one’s control. And in case of high profile individuals it may affect the society at large as is shown by Sonia Gandhi’s life and to a much limited extent by this Sania’s episode.
No, let it not be mistaken that I am suggesting that one day Sania would turn against India or that Shoaib would spy for Pakistan against India. But a sense of national security would commend that a transnational connection is already a security risk in the making. Higher the profile of such a connection more sought after it will be as a hedged conduit for unscrupulous elements. And Pakistan is none-too-friendly a country.
By raising profiles of the persons involved in such a connection, we are therefore enhancing vulnerability within our security system ready to be exploited by the unscrupulous. And all this can happen without any inkling whatsoever of the icons involved. It is indeed an abject lesson to know how scrupulously many a European country deal with such issues of national security.
Many an European constitution explicitly restrain their naturalized citizens from contesting to positions of President, Prime Minister, Speaker, and Chief Justice lest their outlandish perspectives subvert their age-old socio-political grounding (!) even if no direct breach of security does take place.
Finally, it does not speak highly of India’s national pride to appoint someone to a high profile position knowing full well that she had already taken one step outside of the country although the position of Brand Ambassador of a small state is largely decorative.
By: Dr. Codadu Pratap
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