For people, nationalism is an article of faith. India’s National Anthem, its Tricolour and borders are the three undisputed and non-negotiable pillars of nationalism
The poignant irony of ideology is that the Father of the Nation would have never imagined that India would be debating the concept of nationalism seven decades after his martyrdom. And that too over the arrest of a student leader from one of India's 500-odd universities. The paradox is that the notion of nationalism is under threat from those individuals who swear by Gandhi’s nationalistic legacy. For a class of liberal opportunists, nationalism is just another adjective to be used or misused to propagate the idea of a country without borders and exercise the freedom to damage and insult the avowed symbols of India's pride. There are many counterfeit liberals, who bask in the illusion that nationalism is just another marketable product, which can be peddled on the auction block to the highest bidder from India or abroad. They don’t seem to understand that for a mammoth number of people, nationalism is an article of faith. India’s National Anthem, its Tricolour and borders are the three undisputed and non-negotiable pillars of nationalism.
It is tragic that in India there exists a cabal of conspirators, who, bound by their idea of education and political predilections, has made these three symbols a matter of dispute. The questionable activities that happened at JNU were aimed at demolishing the idea of India. The involvement of JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar may be a matter of dispute and judicial scrutiny. In a free country like India, anyone can legitimately question the invoking of a dubious sedition charge against Kanhaiya. But there is not even a shred of doubt that the motives of the organisers and participants at a gathering on campus were to glorify Afzal Guru. Ever since Guru went to the scaffold and an unmarked grave, a section of the intelligentsia and illiberal has been mocking the Indian state and its highest judiciary for sending him to the gallows. Such is the fate of all traitors worldwide, ever since the history of nation-states began. None of the propagandists of “freedom of speech” are questioning an undisputable anti-national event where slogans like ‘India Ki Barbadi, (destruction of India) were raised. Many of these neoliberals have been educated in the US or UK. Have any of these professional pundits of pseudo-patriotism ever heard of any American or British institution lauding and eulogising the killers of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King or John Kennedy? American, Russian and European forces are killing hundreds of terrorists in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere on a daily basis. Why have none of our modern freedom fighters ever raised a finger against them? The current US Presidential election is dominated by the issue of saving the nation from the terror threat and debating the morality of banning a certain community from entering the US. Never before has an American derided the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ or mutilated their national flag. Instead, they display it with pride even in their front yards to signalise the power of democratic beliefs.
The protest against Kanhaiya’s arrest wasn’t confined to New Delhi. A bigger protest march was organised in Jadavpur University, where students raised anti-India slogans and supported the ‘Azadi’ rhetoric raised by Guru. Even a section of media took sides in this fight. The current confrontation between the Left and Liberal Lampoonists on one side and the Saffron forces on the other is an attempt to weaken the symbols of nationalism by converting the JNU issue into a cry against suppression of dissent. If intelligence agencies are to be believed, the country will face more attacks on the idea of an inclusive India, its flag and its National Anthem.
The blame for the revival of ersatz-liberalism lies at the door of a section of the ruling establishment. The trigger to shrink PM Modi’s gigantic stature was provided to his detractors from within. Modi has to evolve a mechanism to prevent India, the Tricolour and Tagore’s immortal ode to nationalism from becoming victims of the divisive agenda of the neo-liberalists. After all, nationalism threatens their luxurious existence.
Prabhu Chawla (The writer is Editorial Director of The New Indian Express Courtesy: The New Indian Express)