The discussion on development with nationalist thinking should be judged on content and intent and not on perceptions
The idea of ‘development’ tends to be interpreted in subjective manner, so is the concept of nationalism. Still, there are very few who would deny the necessity of a unified and integral nation as pre-requisite for development. Sadly, when the recently held BJP national executive adopted two resolutions, usual group of ‘naysayers’ started their persistent rant of jingoism, exclusivism etc. The main reason behind this seems to be the sinister attempt of some sections to beat the government in perception war rather than on intent and content of the policies.
Nationalism involves a feeling of extremely strong attachment towards one’s own country. There can be differences on the basis of that feeling. Some would argue that the racial or ethnic content of nationalism is exclusivist and therefore, detrimental to development. The obvious corollary is that any civic form of nationalism should have feeling of oneness based on sense of equal partnership in the pain and pleasure, justice and injustice, pride and humiliation of the entire people, and then only it can be conducive to development.
If we assess the record of the government and guiding principles of governance reflected in the political resolutions, we get a clear picture about the content and intent. The political resolution, termed as ‘jingoistic’, starts with ‘the promised objectives of economic and social inclusion, social justice, infrastructure development and good governance’. If we read the same in combination with the first resolution, ‘Resurgent Villages for Rising India’, which reinforces the fact that government intends to achieve the inclusive growth.
Is this idea of nationalist way of development a mere rhetoric or substantiated by the policy actions? The answer lies in the policy preferences of last twenty-two months. On the indicator of transparancy, even the stanch opponent would agree that there are no allegations of corruption which has reinstated the confidence of investors in the growth story of Bharat. From coal allocation to railway tenders the processes has been transparent, contributing to the corpus of ex-chequer. On the front of participation, right from voting to contribution in the national programmes, the approach has been participatory. Besides, ‘Swachhata Abhiyan’ and ‘Yoga Day’, ‘Give Up’ initiative and ‘Jan Dhan Yojna’ are most vivid examples of this. While adressing the backlog on distribution, rural investment and boost to agro-allied services is on rise, minority educational institutions are getting support to modernise themselves, woman and SC/ST communities are getting preference in ‘Mudra Yojna’ and ‘Stand-up India’ programmes along with youths. These measures show the intent and content of the resolutions and policies.
The discrepancy lies in the perceptions of some sections supported by an opportunist alliance of Opposition parties. Political parties would obviously strive to secure the political space. Some intellectuals and media personnel are also playing the supportive role as their survival depends on the political masters. Few intellectuals may be genuinely concerned about the idea of nationalism, which they perceive to be ‘hyper’. The clear indictment by the Prime Minister himself to communicate achievements rather than being reactionary is indicative enough to address this issue.
The real problem is ‘Idea of Bharat’ rooted in the western political contours where nation-states based on ethnicity, language, race etc. In the civilisational state like Bharat, the nationalism has roots in our cultural and spiritual ethos, as argued by Rabindranath Thakur. Collective sense of history is critical to it, on which exactly political ideology of the ruling dispensation stands on. From the US to China, whenever they achieved certain landmarks on development path, nationalism was the fascilitator. To synergise the development process, we have to shun the negative mindset towards our nationhood and instil right form of nationalism among all sections of society.