The essay “Challenges to the Indian Nationalism” is an attempt to analyse and introspect on the very sense of nationalism of we, Indians. It also tries further to focus, how since the days of independence until the present times, we Indians as nationals of this great country, India, has carried the legacy of our nationalism. The essay further devolves into the various challenges that have hurt our sense of nationalism and how we have sometimes fumbled and at the same time later grasped with both our hands the legacy of Indian nationalism.
In this endeavour, via the essay, “Challenges to the Indian Nationalism”, an effort has been made, how with the passage of time there has been a change of values in the Indian society. At the same time, it has also been tried to prove that, how in a changing society of ours, what has remained unchanged is the very spirit of our nationalism. History is a witness to this.
The essay, “Challenges to the Indian Nationalism”, tries to demean the brute elements which have tried to dis-embark us from our path of nationalism. In a nutshell, the jest of the essay is to sprinkle happiness on the faces of we Indians by upholding our very sense of nationalism and thereby uprooting those forces which are a barrier in this regard.
The word ‘nation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘natio’ meaning birth or descent. On the other hand, nationalism is usually defined as a sentiment of a nation but in reality, it is more than a mere sentiment. As Lord Morley remarks, Nationalism “from instinct became an idea, from the idea, abstract principle, then fervid prepossession; ending where it is today in dogma whether accepted or evaded.”
Leaving aside all derivatives and definitions of the concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’, from a layman’s perspective, nation may be defined as a conglomeration of a united band of people with a notion of a feeling or unifying factor among them in the form of nationalism. In this way, nation and nationalism are inseparable and indestructible concepts. One cannot be devoid of the other. On the contrary, if nation and nationalism get divorced it would spell doomsday for that nation in the form of mass anarchy and destruction for the nationals of that nation.
Coming specifically to our country India, the coterminous terms nation and nationalism are precisely and appropriately the two terms which must bind every Indian whether individually or collectively as nationals of this great land of ours. In this precise context, it is worthwhile pondering, about the fact that, if we, in the comity of nations in this world of ours wants to march ahead as a nation then our unifying force and identity must be Indian nationalism.
If we Indians cannot come under one umbrella in the form of Indian nationalism, then it will be a saga of ‘united we stand and divided we fall’. In this context, the unifying force for our nationals can certainly be the fact of our Indian nationalism. On the contrary, the dividing lines among us in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual and in a land of religious, cultural and racial diversity can certainly be drawn by the fissiparous tendencies of the fissiparous forces.
RELIGIOUS MAJORITARIANISM AND NATIONALISM
It is in this backdrop, we need to analyse whether in a multi-religious country like ours where secularism is expected not only to be a political philosophy for the people of this country but a way of looking at almost all the facets of life including religion and religious practices. But of late, what has been seen, is that in a country like ours where 80 per cent of our population is constituted of Hindus and with the passage of time what has been seen is the growth of Hindu chauvinism in the country. The reason for the growth of religious majoritarianism in the form of Hindu religious chauvinism is as varied, as are the fissiparous tendencies of the fissiparous forces.
At this critical juncture, it is worth analysing, what is the impact of the growth of religious majoritarianism in the form of Hindu chauvinism and if whether it itself is a threat to our secular credentials as well as to our religious homogeneity. The growth of Hindu chauvinism may help certain ideology, group or political party/parties in exploiting its chauvinistic plans by gaining political power or influence. At the same time, its influence on the nation, nationals and our nation’s very sense of nationalism is quite venomous.
Earlier the chord which used to unite the whole nation or in other words the chord or feeling which used to unite one individual with the other is today after the beginning of the era of religious majoritarianism has if not totally broken down but has certainly become brittle. This has drawn a dividing line between one religion and community with that of another. The overall impact of all these is that we sometimes seem to fall being divided among ourselves than being united and rather stand and march ahead as a nation. The overall impact of all these fissiparous tendencies seems to be a blow to our sense of nationalism and our identity as a countryman as a whole. Nationalism today in our country seems to be more pronounced in times of calamity or national crisis, thanks to British imperialism and it’s after shoots.
The greatest lesson we can learn from British imperialism and the hard-earned freedom from the British rule is the sense of nationalism which our freedom fighters under Pujya Mahatma Gandhiji has shown. Our freedom struggle was a great lesson of Indian nationalism. How we came under one roof of unique Indian nationalism and drove the British and its rule from our country lock, stock and barrel on 15th August 1947. At this critical juncture in which our country is and our countrymen are living, we need to re-invent that very spirit of our freedom fighter’s nationalism and reinvigorate it at the present times.
ANTI-NATIONAL AND ANTI-GOVERNMENT
At the same time, our government of the country at the present times have framed and enacted many draconian laws to curb those who may help the countrymen in times of racial and sectarian crisis. In this regard, the general tendency what has been found among those who are at the helm of affairs is to bulge or demean the line between a whistle-blower and an anti-national. In a democracy, like ours, which is the largest democracy in the world, the ruler must have its way and the opposition must have its say. In the name of ruling, the powerful and the influential must certainly not portray the various opposition and the various pressure groups, even in the form of whistle-blowers as anti-national and anti-government.
In a democracy like ours, constructive criticism and public opinion formation by the opposition and the various other forces coming under the coinage of the ideology, as an opposite of the ruling party should get due respect. At the same time, terming those who oppose the ruling party as anti-national and anti-government seems to go against the very spirit of democracy and democratic norms.
The true spirit of democracy lies in equally sharing and analysing the various views and the ideologies that emerge as democratic norms in the country. The terming of one group or individual and condemning him/her as anti-national is itself the demeaning of the very term government. Under the term government of a country comes all and sundry including majority groups, minority groups, the minimal racial groups to name a few in this regards.
If a government while running administration of the country promotes majoritarian politics or policies, then it may turn into isolationism on the part of a section of the society. Or further, if to, preach or force the ideology of the ruling party, the government turns into demagogy and then it may itself be a blow to the very spirit of nationalism and thereby hurting the very edifice of our democracy.
In this regard, of promoting equal rights among the countrymen as well as respecting the democratic values and the ideologies of one and all in the country we may cite the example of the mother of all democracies that is English democracy. In England, the shadow cabinet which itself can be termed along with the various pressure groups as the path-finder and a way of the framing of proper public opinion in its democracy.
The Indian democracy is an offspring of the British democracy. In this regard, the success of pressure groups and shadow cabinet in England and on the other hand the gradual decay of Indian democracy points to the democratic maturing of English people and on the other hand how much we Indians need to learn from them as far as respecting the various democratic norms and ideologies are concerned.
MINORITY RIGHTS AND NATIONALISM
Constitution of India ideologically promotes the rule of the majority and at the same time, promotes the right of the minorities. In other words, democracy as a concept in India is all inclusive and encompasses one and all under its ambit. The motto of Indian democracy is to make democracy, a way of life, by bringing under its ambit one and all. So, that, the fruits of democracy are enjoyed by one and all even in the nook and corner of the country.
When a democratic process in this way will bring all under its ambit then it will not only have a territorial expansion in the country but will also enrich the heart and soul of one and all.
What is the guiding force in this regard? The answer to this question seems to lie for our nation in promoting democracy as a concept which sprinkles happiness even in the faces of the minority groups, minuscule groups of races and tribes, clan etc., to name a few in this regard. Therefore, by promoting the rights of these minorities, we need to protect the interests of these groups and thereby save the minorities and the minuscule groups from social, political and in all other spheres of life and thereby save them from identity crisis and annihilation in the Indian society.
Therefore, if our motto is to promote happiness in the Indian society, we need to promote happiness in such a way that,’ one man’s pleasure does not become one man’s pain’. On the contrary, we need to promote happiness in such a way that it touches the chord of the heart of each one of us irrespective of whether one is of the majority groups or that of the minorities.
If this turns into a reality, the happiness of a nation will encompass everything and help us in realising our goal of emboldening nationalism in the country. The natural fallout of all these will be to disembark the hostile forces of the society and restore parity among the various groups and forces of the country. In this way, Indian nationalism will embark on a path where it will transcend the concept of numbers and rather it will become all-encompassing.
JOURNALISM—WHERE IS IT HEADING?
Legislature, executive and the judiciary form the three pillars of our democracy. At the same time, the press is considered as the fourth pillar of our democracy although not constitutionally. The media is like the mirror of the society. Its role is to gather and share information among the masses and thereby awake, arise and unite their sentiments with a feeling of unity and amity among them. If we want our democratic norms like forming public opinion, sharing public opinion and generate debate and discussion on the various affairs indulging the country, the best medium to do it is the Indian media. At the same time at this juncture, we need to introspect how much the media been able to satisfy its role in this regard.
Media to function properly in a country like India as well as to unite the masses and promote nationalism, in the long run, it must be impartial as well as politically neutral. The media should have the same genre as Indian nationalism. Tilting towards any political party or group while deciphering views will make it bohemian and thereby losing is a true spirit. Specifically in the context of globalisation in our country media sometimes seems to be hoodwinked by the business tycoons. In the name of publicity or to safeguard especially in the context of television channels, TRP’s sometimes seems to blow away the real issues and these channels seem to promote less journalistic values and rather deviate from it.
How to make media more effective so that it reflects the conscience of the nation? Media and the media personalities should promote a sense of unity among the masses which will certainly culminate into the growth of Indian nationalism in the long run. Media, in this regard, should promote by proper introspection and analysis those values which promote nationalistic values of our country like religious tolerance, amity and peaceful coexistence among various communities. The overall impact of this endeavour will be the emboldening of the Indian nationalism in the long run. Media should be a torchbearer and promoter of the nationalistic values of our country. All in all, if the media is to act as a conscience maker, it should be people-centric. Here people-centric means its views should revolve around the hopes and aspirations of the masses. If India is to survive as a nation by promoting Indian nationalism, then media cannot shy away from all these tasks.
India since time immemorial has been known as a tolerant country. India’s sense of love and well-wishing for his friends as well as his foes wonder-struck many including King Alexander of Greece. Indians are known to respect their adversaries and thereby promoting a sense of unity between one and all thereby bulging the line between a friend and a foe. This fact also encompasses our ethos of nationalism which is quite evident in the views of Mahatma Gandhi when he said about the British and the British rule that— our enemies are not the British but the British rule. This is itself a corollary to the fact what the religion Christianity promotes which is “hate the sin and not the sinner”.
Of late there seems to raise a question mark in the sense of tolerance of this tolerant country India. Instances galore when in the name of Khap Panchayats there have been instances of brutal killing and lynching of people irrespective of old or young in the country. The recent edition to it has been the raising instances of mob violence. Mob violence is a mockery of our principle of non-violence, ahimsa and peaceful co-existence which were the pillar stones of nationalism during the freedom struggle under the able leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.
At the recent times the killing of young photographers, Abhijit Nath and Nilotpal Das in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam by lynching and mob violence to that of the killing of UAE engineers in Karnataka shows how much our countrymen have deviated from the path of mutual respect and tolerance among them to that of hatred and anarchy. This derailed spirit of the Indian mind and the very brute nature of the Indians may be termed as Mobocracy.
At the same time, mobocracy and the true spirit of Indian democracy cannot go hand in hand. If the goal of Indian democracy is to promote nationalism, then we must regain our traditional spirit of toleration and mutual love and respect for one another. Ultimately these efforts should be able to make our mind free from the brute instincts of body, mind and the soul and rather promotes a serene environment in the Indian society.
Indian history is a replica of Indian nationalism. Yes, it is true we sometimes deviate, as nationals, of this great nation, from our sense of nationalism. At the same time, Indian history is full of instances when we Indians have reinvented our sense of nationalism by searching light at the end of the dark tunnel by dint of the vision of the visionaries that the country has produced.
– Jnandeep Bora
Senior Judicial Asst., Guwahati High Court
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