By Hanzala bin Aman, Countercurrents.org | 23 April, 2016
Patriotism is the feeling of an individual or a large number of individual’s which establishes the love, sacrifice and the notion of doing well for the country. A patriot is ready to serve his/her homeland in the best way possible while also keeping in mind the best of humanity at large.
Nationalism, however, opposed to patriotism, is a problematic idea among the populace which is intrinsically ethnocentric. The definition of nationalism, maybe open textured but a few problems like chauvinism, racism, parochialism, narcissism and irredentism among others are warps and woofs of nationalism. Many a great minds have opposed the notion of nationalism. Tagore called it the venom of modern history and Orwell, the worst enemy of peace. Even Albert Einstein called it the measles of mankind, which is very close to the Steiner’s idea of nationalism being venom of modern history. As observed by Michel Foucault
“The modern state (nation-state) can scarcely function without being involved with racism”
Inception of nationalism had incurred many great wars in the 19th and 20th century and also that most dreadful dictators of recent times have been the greatest nationalists. Nationalism in today’s world has proved to be apocalyptic for humanity. Be it, Mussolini’s Italy or Nazis Germany or Islamic State or any other dreaded regime, the common thing among all have been Nationalism. To put in Arundhati Roy’s word
“Nationalism of one kind or another was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people’s minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.”
Nationalism in India
Card of nationalism has been repeatedly played by different Indian governments to achieve what is unachievable with humanitarian aspect. Imposition of AFSPA in Kashmir and some North Eastern states, cleansing of tribals with the excuse of fighting naxalism and many other inhuman actions have been taken by Indian Government all in the name nationalism. Many goals were achieved by what is called as “Strategic Hamletting”.
Today, the kind of nationalism which has gained force all over the world is Religious-backed nationalism. This nationalism has serious consequences which are evident from loss of humanity due to Islamism, Zionism, Hindutva, Buddhist nationalism etcetera. Religion has a stark commonality with nationalism as both encourage ethnocentrism and racism. It, to a very large extent, shrouds the thinking of the mass and helps in very powerful polarization with Nationalism.
In India, Hindutva has gained a very strong foothold. The targets of the racism by Hindutva forces have been Muslims, Christians, Tribals, Dalits and those who are opposed to the idea of India being a Hindu nation. Various episodes like Love Jihad, Cow Nationalism, Lynching in the name of food and protection of culture, attacks on the educational institutions and many others have shown the real motives of Sangh Parivar.
Irrendetism is found common in Hindutva proponents who aim at the creation of “Bharat Varsha” boundary of which surpasses todays India and includes not only Pakistan but also Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. In this Bharat Varsha, anyone outside Hinduism is considered to be a foreigner or an outsider thus needs to be ousted. This ideology has been summarized by Sangh Pracharak turned Sceptic DR Goyal in his book:
Hindus have lived in India since times immemorial; Hindus are the nation because all culture, civilisation and life is contributed by them alone; non-Hindus are invaders or guests and cannot be treated as equal unless they adopt Hindu traditions, culture etc … the history of India is the history of the struggle of the Hindus for protection and preservation of their religion and culture against the onslaught of these aliens; the threat continues because the power is in the hands of those who do not believe in this nation as a Hindu Nation; those who talk of national unity as the unity of all those who live in this country are motivated by the selfish desire of cornering minority votes and are therefore traitors; the unity and consolidation of the Hindus is the dire need of the hour because the Hindu people are surrounded on all sides by enemies; the Hindus must develop the capacity for massive retaliation and offense is the best defense; lack of unity is the root cause of all the troubles of the Hindus and the Sangh is born with the divine mission to bring about that unity.
Hindu Rashtra in Construction
Right-wing Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power in May 2014 with the support of Industrialists (similar was the case of fascism in Italy as rued by I.H. Adler). These industrialists made the efficient use of media to raise BJP to the power. Right from that time, Sangh Parivar has paced up for the formation of Hindu Rashtra. To make India into one, they are for years following the very basic idea of consciousness and embodiment. Successful with making people conscious with millions of its supporters, embodiment of this idea has also started years ago. Ieva Zeka has discussed three stages for the creation of a nation which are:
1) Invention of National History
2) Invention of Language
3) Invention of substantially different culture
This is very subtly represented in the Slogan like “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan”. As publically confessed and which is also evident, Sangh Parivar has been trying to rewrite the history of India. The proposed history over-glorifies the Hindu rule in India and meanwhile also largely negates the contributions of Muslim Rulers. Absurd claims like people at Vedic time knew the process of Plastic surgery; Artificial Insemination and the airplane like vehicles were common are the examples of hilarious yet dangerous distortion of history. A sangh historian P.N. Oak went to the extent to falsely claim that Taj Mahal was infact a Shiva temple named Tejo Mahalaya which was constructed by Hindu rulers. Even Muslim rulers are now being accused of creating caste-discrimination in Hindus. Hindi is being forced on the populace as the spoken language. Urdu has been increasingly victimized over time and has been associated with Muslims. English is being held responsible for the corruption of Indian culture.
Hindu Rashtra if created will be as problematic as ISIS or any other theocratic regime. As Ambedkar said
“If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will no doubt be the greatest calamity for this country. It is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. It is incompatible with democracy. It should be stopped at any cost.”
How to fight Nationalism?
To fight nationalism, patriotism must be inculcated in the hearts of the populace. Patriotism, as rued by Johannes Rau, can flourish only where racism and nationalism are given no quarter. We should never mistake patriotism for nationalism. Nationalism of any form must be maledicted. Discourse and dissent should be encouraged. Level of consciousness of young people must be raised. Intellectuals hold a special responsibility to enlighten the populace.