The â€¨Englishman whose heart beats for India http://www.khaleejtimes.com/weekend...y/weekend_February38.xml§ion=weekend&col= Denise Marray (IDENTITY CRISIS) 11 February 2011 For years, Indians have been scrambling to get British citizenship; â€¨Daivid Hopkins is a British citizen who has been scrambling for an Indian identity for a few decades now â€” without much success. but he lives in hope Daivid Hopkins. British citizen, born in England. White Caucasian Male of Welsh descent. Aged 60. Currently resident in the city of Durham, Northern England. So far, so normal (except for the unusual spelling of his Christian name). But wait. Listen carefully, and you will notice a lilting intonation to his English accent more usually associated with India than the land of his birth. Enquire further and you will find that he speaks fluent Hindi and follows the Hindu faith. To top it all, he wants to become an Indian citizen as he feels more at home in India than â€¨in England. If all this is a bit hard to take in â€” letâ€™s go back to the beginning of Daividâ€™s life. Born in Swindon in the South West of England into a conventional family of Welsh descent (and one French grandparent), he attended school and did his â€˜Aâ€™ Levels. He doesnâ€™t recall any member of his family or any teacher fostering his interest in India, though his father had some books on other cultures in the house. But Daivid, who was in fact christened David, had an enquiring mind from an â€¨early age. â€œWhen I was fourteen I started philosophising on my own and I worked out Determinism from the science I learnt at school,â€ he explained. He added that one of his school friends noted a change in him from around this time. After his â€˜Aâ€™ levels he set out in 1968 on a trip to Afghanistan and India. This gap year, he admits lasted not just the conventional 12 months but twenty years! Eventually, he found peace of mind at an Ashram in Moradabad where he stayed for fifteen years. To many, he must have appeared like just another naÃ¯ve Brit on the hippy trail. Certainly, his parents were not pleased with his lifestyle which they saw as â€˜opting outâ€™. But in fact, his immersion in the language, religion and culture of India sets him apart from the â€˜dabblersâ€™ drifting around ashrams in search of quick enlightenment. His sincere interest is also borne out by his later decision to study for Master of Philosophy Degree in Classical Indian Religion at Oxford University. Here, as a practising â€¨Hindu, he found the dispassionate study of his faith quite difficult, but he acknowledged that is useful to have an academic perspective. Daivid might have lived out his days in India had it not been for a 1984 change in visa requirements by both the Indian and UK governments. After 1984, it was no longer possible for British citizens to travel to India without a visa, and likewise for Indian citizens to travel to the UK without a visa. So, faced with having to travel on short term tourist visas which could not be renewed in India, Daivid was in a position of having to return to the UK on a regular basis which was very disrupting. So, as a long term resident of his adopted country, he decided to apply for Indian citizenship. This, however, has proved a long and so far fruitless endeavour. He has gone on two hunger strikes in India to plead his case but despite receiving sympathy he has made no progress. His 1994 hunger strike was staged at Delhiâ€™s Jantar Mantar, a famous place of protest near the Parliament. Now back in Durham, an austere university city in the North of England, Daivid feels like a fish out of water. He finds the English a â€˜cold raceâ€™ and believes that Indian society is much warmer and accepting. He feels that Indian people who migrate to the UK find it difficult in English society to manifest their natural warmth. In India he says, â€œpeople â€¨are first and foremost members of a group and secondly individuals, whilst in the â€¨UK people are first and foremost individuals.â€ Daivid practises his Sanskrit with a friend who is a Hindu British Army chaplain and cooks his own version of Indian vegetarian food. His modest income comes from renting out some flats in the nearby city of Newcastle. He invested in the flats with a legacy left by a family member. He is considering moving to France but hasnâ€™t entirely given up his dream of gaining Indian citizenship, though he admits his case â€œis not looking too good.â€ A 1990 letter to Daivid from The High Commission of India in London, makes his position clear. â€œUnder section 5 (1) Â© of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 no rule has so far been framed for registration of British Citizens of non-Indian origin as Indian Citizens.â€ With the door seemingly closed against him, Daivid remains in the frozen north of England while his Indian heart longs to belong to the country he calls home. He accepts he might not fulfil his dream in this lifetime but true to his belief in reincarnation, he hopes for better luck next time round.