Finally after a long wait Adnan Sami was officially declared an Indian citizen. Singer who had just returned after completing al the formalities. He described the experience as "lifechanging" and "historic".
"I was granted citizenship under Section 9 Para 1 of the Indian Citizenship Act of Naturalisation. The government of India has the discretionary powers to grant citizenship to someone extremely talented in the field of art, culture or science, but this is the first time since Independence that this particular section has been used. It's a huge honour!" informed Adnan, who was handed the citizenship certificate by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, "One half- hour ceremony can change your life. I've got the biggest gift on the first day of the new year!"
At 1 pm on Thursday, he was informed that he was expected to be at the MHA South Block in Delhi at 10 am on January 1. The news threw his plans for the year-end for a six as with wife Roya Faryabi, he took the late afternoon flight to the capital. "I didn't want to take a chance with the fog," Adnan points out, admitting that friends in the city hosted an impromptu party for them to bring in the New Year cheer. "But I didn't sleep a wink that night. Given my age, experience and exposure to the world, I should have been more mature about this, but I was like an excited child. I'd applied back in 2003, it's been a long wait, but I've been extremely patient, wanting to follow every procedure to the T."
Adnan insists that in all these years, he's never felt or made to feel like he was a foreigner. For 16 years he has lived here and at concerts abroad, been introduced as an Indian. "Dil kab se yahan baith gaya tha, this is where I've always been really happy. The only thing keeping me physically away was a piece of paper, which I have today. With that in my hand, I told my wife Roya, 'Fikar mat karo, tum mere mulk mein ho. I'll take care of you,'" he laughs.
Adnan believes the wait was part of God's bigger plan. He was born on August 15, our Independence Day, and when studying in UK, wrote his thesis on Mahatma Gandhi. "I never spoke about this openly before but the signs were all there, prodding me to come to this country, grow to love it and now, after 46 years, I feel a part of the soil," he says emotionally.
At the time when everyone's debating on intolerance, Adnan applauds the Prime Minister and Home Minister Rajnath Singh for making him one of us. On the subject of intolerance he argues, "My answer to this is that if I had felt it, would I have asked for an Indian citizenship when I had the option of becoming a British, Canadian or even a German citizen since my wife is German?"
In fact, he lauds Narendra Modi's latest endeavour to thaw the ice with Pakistan with his impromptu visit to Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, saying that as a musician he has always believed in harmony. "That's how neighbours behave and every religion teaches us to love thy neighbour. I'm waiting for the day when a man from Amritsar can go to Lahore to lunch on kebabs and his counterpart can cross over for kulchas here," he muses. And can singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya hope for a Pakistani citizenship after his many angry tirades? That draws a laugh, "Abhijeet is a sweetheart... a Teddy Bear... who sometimes gets over-emotional. Every human being should have the right to choose where he wants to live, which country he wants to belong to."
Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was recently deported from Hyderabad. Will that create another controversy? "I don't think so," says Adnan who has a song for every occasion and is currently singing, "Teri oonchi shaan hai maula, Meri arzi maan le maula... Mujhko bhi to lift kara de, Thodi si to lift kara de..."
He's on a high, looking forward to inking his finger during the next elections. Also, now that he can invest in property, he wants to buy a farmhouse in Panvel or Lonavala. He'd want to continue with the professional high of the Bajrangi Bhaijaan qawwali, which helped him forge a direct connect with God, with more such songs. But the focus will be on acting now and not playback. An announcement is likely soon launching him as an actor. "A leading man, not a special appearance like Bajrangi Bhaijaan," he adds.
Adnan also wants to do more charity, something for the physically disabled, and serve the country better. "I feel like I've just been given a trillion dollars and am being asked what I'd do with it. Give me time to gather my thoughts. I promise I'll make India proud," he asserts.
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