“What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her Independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people.” —Dr B R Ambedkar, speech on Friday, the 25th November, 1949, CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA – VOLUME XI
The unfortunate incident in JNU has led to the debate on being national and anti-national. Some people are trying their best to confuse people by raising issues such as free speech, abolition of death sentence, autonomy of educational institutions, students’ rights, etc. They are trying their best to mix up their intolerance towards the government with defence of apparent anti-national activities. To avoid the genuine debate on national and anti-national perspectives they also want to bring in caste categories into picture. There are different layers of anti-national thinking or activities that are surfaced in last few days, which need to be addresed.
First category or group is the chest-thumping, melancholy-ridden, ‘victim syndrome’ suffering people that directly and unabashedly support Afzal Guru and likes as they truly believe in some cause and perceived injustice done to certain sections. They are easily identifiable as they openly take anti-Bharat stand. The separatist groups in J & K fall within this category.
The second and most sinister group comprises of people who indirectly support Afzal Guru by standing behind his supporters and displaying their lung power during sloganeering. There are sub-categories in this group of tacit anti-nationals; the ones who do not like to be seen in public but clandestinely support pro-Afzal demonstrations in the name of ‘free speech’. Another group is of ‘fence sitters’, who shift their allegiance depending on time and tide. The unseen group consists of the so-called ‘Intellectuals’ who love debating while the later are ‘Opportunists’ of the highest order who are capable of milking a dying cow. Overall, this category is more dangerous as they are more subtle in their anti-Bharat activities and can be dubbed as ‘Wannabes’ wearing sophisticated tags. These people will immediately link Yakub or Afzal to their communal identity. This set of people derives political mileage or economic benefit out of divisive agenda that are carried by the outright anti-nationals, against which they provide intellectual fodder to the activities to the first group.
Then, there comes their political masters who try to play their divisive agenda in the political realm either on caste, regional or communal lines while chanting the clichés of ‘secularism’, ‘human rights’, ‘internationalism’ etc. Instead of debating or discussing in the Parliament, this group of politicians divert the attention to divisive issues, try to destabilise the system through money and muscle power, misguide and mobilize people on caste or regional lines, damage the national property etc just to gain the political space. These nefarious designs may get temporary success but are eventually exposed as they have to face the same people in the course of time who face the wrath of divisive politics.
Last but certainly not the least, are the silent spectators and passive onlookers who are generally indifferent to social and national issues in the normal course. The best part of this group is that they do not need any legal or technical definition of what is national and anti-national, especially during the crisis situations. For them, what is not in tune with the national ethos and against the core national interests is anti-national. It is the experts and intellectuals who try to confuse this categorty but collective opinion always stand by what is national and oppose that is anti-national. We have been witnessing this on streets, in media discourse and even in the intellectual realm. Hope representatives of people also understand this mood. They should also realise that creating ruckus around divisive agenda for petty political benefits also hampers the national cause and derails the agenda of development and governance.
While exercising democratic rights, whether we oppose the government or support the anti-national elements is the serious question everyone should ask. Keeping this in mind, Organiser has initiated a debate on freedom of expression to address the extent and limits on the most fundamental democratic right from all the possible dimensions.