‘Nationalism’ has become a hot topic in political discussions during the past several years. While a healthy debate on the subject is welcome, we find such discussion spinning out of control. So we watch on TV a slanging match, abuses, rants and people who look like adults behave like people suffering from ‘arrested adolescence’.
These ‘discussions’ usually end in a free- for-all blame game with the so called ‘nationalists’ shouting that those who criticize hyper nationalism, Hindutva or the Modi Government are ‘anti-nationals’, corrupt, weak kneed and unpatriotic. Such hysterical discussions certainly are not beneficial to the nation or society.
Nationalism is to bind and unite the nation, not divide it. It ought to promote fellow feeling and strong bonds among citizens. But it is a strange kind of nationalism we see being flaunted today. this false ‘nationalism’ is creating violent rifts in society.
The nation has helplessly witnessed this ‘new nationalism’ creating social, cultural, religious and even economic divisions affecting communities. The real tukde-tukde gang are the ones who are screaming on TV trying to divide and cause distrust among all Indians, breaking India into ideological pieces : Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and so on.
Chanakya held that “the key to happiness is prosperity”. He said it’s the duty of the ruler to ensure prosperity of citizens. But can prosperity be ensured by rulers demeaning a large section of the people and demonizing each other?
Chanakya laid down four duties of the state. The foremost was to expand facilities, wealth and resources. The state, he said, should guard the gains obtained, to increase/ expand what has been obtained/achieved and to equally distribute the resources and wealth among the citizens.
It’s the duty of the country’s leaders to provide better services and infrastructure to the citizens. The leaders must work for more equitable distribution of resources. The citizen should be left free to follow traditions, custom, lifestyle, language, religion etc. This freedom to choose is the fundamental corner stone of a conflict free society.
Political commentator Pradeep Tyagi has written in a recent article “The current profusion of aggressive slogans and the naked display of might to enforce uniformity are damaging the nation. The idea of one special and superior race or religion dominating everyone else has brought nothing but disaster to societies unfortunate enough to follow such belief for howsoever short a time.
“Citizens must be left free to decide the slogan of their choice, i.e. whether it will be Bharat Mata Ki Jai, Vande Mataram, Jai Hind, Jai Bharat or Hindustan Zindabad. Eventually they all convey the same sentiment. A citizen serving the nation by adhering to the principles of the Constitution deserves the freedom to decide how to express love and respect for the nation.
“If a citizen has been responsibly fulfilling his duties towards the nation, then he has the right to expect that political parties and their leaders shall fulfil their obligations towards the citizens and the nation to the best of their abilities. Good governance means welfare of the citizens. Good governance certainly does not mean misleading the citizens and complicating core issues and deficiencies with aggressive slogans.”
The test of true nationalism lies in providing employment to the youth, ensuring a better MSP to the farmers, creating a simplified tax regime for the traders, ensuring safety to women, promoting communal harmony, ensuring freedom of press, securing and safeguarding the borders of the nation and most importantly, respecting the tenets of the Constitution. Political parties and leaders should be judged and evaluated by these guiding principles of nationalism.
During the freedom struggle different people and parties took different paths but no one branded the other anti-national. “Even those who did not participate in this noble cause were not criticised”. Sadly, in today’s India there is a mad rush to certify nationalists and nationalism, it is not enough to be a nationalist, one has to be a ‘certified nationalist’.
Freedom fighters never wore their nationalism on their sleeves. They were men and women of character and never marketed their nationalism. For them, serving the nation was a privilege and not a tool to grab power.
- Contributed by Mohit Brahma, Green valley, Guwahati