The Congress that feted Adnan Sami when he was identified as Pakistani is running him down, now that he’s Indian

Ashish Chandorkar

Jan 27, 2020 18:23:44 IST

The commentariat of Lutyens’ Delhi are up in arms against the Padma awards now, with their guns particularly trained on the awarding of Padma Shri to musician and singer Adnan Sami. People are accusing the government of ‘awarding a Pakistani’. However, such expressions belie several inconvenient facts.

Sami was born in London. His mother, Naureen Khan was an Indian Muslim from Jammu, which makes it all the more ironic that he is being targeted. Are children of Indian women, from Jammu and Kashmir, not considered respectable enough for honours due to them?

 The Congress that feted Adnan Sami when he was identified as Pakistani is running him down, now that he’s Indian

Adnan Sami. PTI image.

Sami’s father, Arshad Sami Khan was born in an ethnic Pashtun family from Afghanistan who migrated to Peshawar in then British India due to an assassination in the family. He went on to serve the Pakistani Air Force. Later, he served as Aide to 3 Presidents and PMs each, and Ambassador to 14 nations. However, his book ‘3 Presidents and an Aide’ could not find a Pakistani publisher, and was finally published in India. In fact the book was released by former PM Mr. I.K. Gujral in 2008 with Congress CM of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh gracing the audience. How is it that what was fine under Congress rule is problematic now?

In 2005, Sami performed during the 350 year-celebration of the Taj Mahal with many Congress and other party CMs in attendance alongside stalwarts like Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. Wasn’t Sami a Pakistani then? The YS Rajashekhar Reddy-led Congress government of Andhra Pradesh awarded Sami the Naushad Music Award in 2008. Further, senior leader Digvijay Singh intervened on the question of Sami’s Indian residency in 2011, declaring that “he wants to stay in this country”. This was also endorsed by senior minister of the Union government P Chidambaram in 2013. 

One fails to grasp the logic used in this selective targeting. When the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed, the rationale provided against it was the alleged injustice to Muslims from neighbouring countries who would like to come to India, settle here and become citizens. However, here is a former Pakistani, who entered India legally, followed due procedure, and obtained citizenship, but citing his father’s supposed role in 1965, he is being targeted. 

In all this contrived controversy, the real reason behind the Padma Shri award has been obfuscated.

As a vocalist, pianist and music composer having a four-decade career, Sami’s songs enjoy popularity. With over 120 songs and 90 compositions, he is the only musician from South Asia to have delivered 8 house-full concerts at Wembley stadium, London, and was the only artiste from the entire Asian region to sell out Wembley for two nights in a row, an achievement repeated in 2005, 2008 & 2017. He composed the Indian cricket team’s anthem for the 2003 Cricket World Cup, when he was not even an Indian citizen.

Those questioning his abilities would do well to recall these remarks, which Digvijay Singh made, In 2011: : “He is a good singer and has a lot of fan following in this country. He wants to stay in this country, He should be allowed to stay here”

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Updated Date: Jan 27, 2020 18:36:37 IST