Recent controversy raised over the truthful statement of Sachin Tendulkar that Mumbai belongs to India though he was a Maharashtrian, he was Indian first, bylinguistic chauvinists led by Bal Thackery indicates a dangerous trend which can be ignored only at the peril to the nation.
We got rid of foreign rule and secured independence after a century long struggle during which millions of freedom fighters sacrificed their all, inspired by the burning sense of patriotism. Thereafter, we framed and gave to ourselves the Constitution. The opening words of the Preamble are very significant. They are “We the people of India”. This is in conformity with the declaration made in Vishnu Purana several centuries ago, to the effect that “the country which lies to the north of seas and south of Himalaya is Bharat and people of this country are Bharatiyas being the descendents of Emperor Bharat”. It is this spirit of oneness that electrified and united the entire nation and enabled us to fight against and get rid of slavery. The only one slogan which inspired the entire nation has been “Bharat mata ke jai”. After securing independence we framed one Constitution to obey, adopted one National Anthem to sing and one National Flag to hoist and protect. We formed linguistic provinces only for administrative convenience. By and large this feeling of nationhood is the basis of our strength and unity and feeling of fraternity among all the citizens. But unfortunately now and then weeds of linguistic chauvinism have been growing here and there which are threatening our national life.
KM Munshi, when he found such weeds growing, in his foreword to the book, History and Culture of India, bemoaned that when the country opted for linguistic states, we never imagined that they are likely to become sub-nation states, but expressed the hope that it was only a passing phase. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya in his last speech at Doddaballapur pointed out that when a Kannadiga or Tamilian or Maharashtrian goes to Delhi for staying there, he has an all India outlook and as a citizen of India he has the right to stay there and carry on any occupation or business but unfortunately when the same person comes back to Mumbai, Bengaluru or Chennai, he exhibits a narrow loyalty on the basis of so called “sons of the soil” slogan and forgets that there is only one soil called Bharat Mata and every part and particle of Bharat is sacred to all of us just as every part of one’s mother is sacred to him. Therefore, Sachin Tendulkar was right when he said that Mumbai belongs to the entire nation and he was Indian first though a Maharashtrian. The stand of Bal Thackery and his tribe in taking exception to it, has proved the growing of weeds of linguistic chauvinism. In fact two decades back when a statue of Shivaji was proposed to be installed at Bengaluru a few Kannada enthusiasts opposed it. But soon it was given up when many pointed out that Shivaji was a national hero of exceptional merit. Thereafter, a grand statue of Shivaji has been installed which has become a source of inspiration. Therefore, all nationalist forces irrespective of the political party to which they belong should without loss of time remove these weeds so that our nationalism grows profusely. In this behalf it is appropriate to quote what a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has said in the case of Pradeep Jain Vs. Union of India-AIR 1984 SC 1420] thus:
“We find that today the integrity of the nation is threatened by the divisive forces of regionalism, linguism and communalism and regional linguistic and communal loyalties are gaining ascendancy in national life and seeking to tear apart and destroy national integrity. We tend to forget that India is one nation and we are all Indians first and Indians last. It is time we remind ourselves what the great visionary and builder of modern India Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Who dies if India lives; who lives if India dies?”. “We must realise; and this is unfortunately that many in public life tend to overlook; sometimes out of ignorance of the forces of history and sometimes deliberately with a view to promoting their self-interest, that national interest must inevitably and forever prevail over any other considerations proceeding from regional, linguistic or communal attachments”. AIR 1984 SC 1420, Para-1
These words of warning by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court as above made as early as in the year 1984 should guide us to remove the weeds of linguistic chauvinism by the feeling of intense patriotism, fraternity and integrity of the nation, sub-ordinating the regional and linguistic feelings.
(The writer is Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and former Governor of Jharkhand and Bihar and can be contacted at “Sri. Shaila”, No. 870/C, 5th Block, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru.)