Demystifying Nationalism and Debunking Indian Nationalism

By M.J. Aslam

General: The modern Nation State is a concept that emerged from dismantling of many kingdoms, empires, decolonization, Italian-city-States, and widespread use of printing press during 18th-20th Centuries for promoting the “idea” of Nation State among the people of different communities by the ruling elite to hold them perennially together for common governance “without discrimination”. But this concept has proven more an ideal than a reality because all over the world there is a strong noticeable feeling among the minority groups, religious & ethnic, living within Nation States that the rulers represent & safeguard their own interests & that of the majority community only, internally and externally [too] before UN & other world bodies for it is undeniably accepted that majoritarianism or tyranny of majority is democratically enrobed in Nationalism.

Nationalism has not to be confused with the State or Nation State. The State means simply any government & government machinery, be that democratic or non democratic, that politically & practically runs the affairs of a State. The Nation State, on the other hand, inclusive of “State” has a broader connotation. It means an organised government that derives its legitimacy by ruling its citizens through a “common identity” which is given the name of “Nationalism”. The Nation or Nationalism is the name collectively assigned to different communities who are believed to be connected to each other by [Common] ethnicity, history, language and culture (not necessarily common religion) living within firmly-demarcated territorial boundaries. This idea of being connected to each other by the shared cultural, historical, ethnic & linguistic values forms the foundation-rock of any Nation State. The State/the government & the Nation, that is, those governed, people, citizens, subjects , whatever you call them, are bracketed together to form a [single] Nation State or geographical area or race.

The hard reality behind the Nation State concept is that within its sovereign territorial entity, there is hardly a homogenous group of people with the [Same] culture, language, ethnicity, or even religion, so comes into operation “State sponsored national identity” by the majority and the ruling elite imposing the same, that is, their own ideas, culture, language, habits, & even religion by “force” on the minority. In history, we have witnessed notorious Nationalist movements such as Nazism, Communism, Zionism, Trotskyism & so on. All Nationalist Movements have eventually led to unbearable suffering of human beings due to its ill effects of cultural assimilations, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, persecution, expulsion, extermination, mob violence, public lynching, discrimination, massacres & genocides in the world.

Indian scene: At the time of partition, INC “seemingly” by not agreeing with M. A. Jinnah’s two Nation Theory & Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s theory of Hindutva rejected division of India on “religious” lines & promoted “secular” ideology BUT “only to keep Muslims & have Kashmir” as INC “guided transition of power from British Raj to Hindu Raj”. {Sayed Naqvi Exclusive Interview by Karan Thappar on India Today dated 05-07-2016 regarding his book: Being the other: Muslim in India: Naqvi further states in the said interview that Muslims of India couldn’t notice this hidden agenda because “they were fooled” by Nehru & INC}. This statement of Sayed Naqvi is impliedly endorsed by A G Noorani in these words: “In the decisive phase of Cabinet Mission in 1946, M A Jinnah thrice discarded partition in favour of a United India but United India implied a sharing of power, which the Congress abhorred …” (Jinnah & Tilak, Comrades in the Freedom Struggle, A G Noorani, also quoted in the Hindu dated 10-08-2010).

Jinnah’s proposal of “parity” was rejected by Nehru for the obvious reasons of grapping the power as early as possible in view of fast changing geo-political circumstances post WW 2nd & London Bombing because “nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception …it is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation ……..in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality” (George Orwell’s Essays, page 300-301).

At the time of partition, the bogey of Hindu Nationalism/Hinduness/Hindutva/ Akhand Bharat/Hindu Rashtra of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s wasn’t floated so “covertly” by Indian leaders as they were interested at that time in creation of an Independent sovereign Indian State first as they were conscious of the fact that Hindu Nationalism would automatically come in place because of Hindu majoritarianism. It may be compared with France where French Nationalism was systematically followed many years after the French State had already come into existence when French was enforced in all parts of France. In 1947, the INC’s political slogan, seemingly devoid of any “religious overtones”, was that the English were “Wicked” as they had held India by physical force motivating the young Indians for freedom from the Wicked British. (Bertrand Russell, In Praise of Idleness, 2003, page 122). But with the passage of time, it became manifestly clear from thousands of communal riots, hate speeches, open intimation, Gujarat & many like pogrom & demolition of Babri Masjid that Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s pan-Brahman ideology of Hindu Nationalism or Hindutva is & was very much alive among the larger sections of Hindu population & politicians of India. For them, the British were less, but the Muslims are [More] “Wicked” descendants of Arabs & Muslim Rulers thought to be only foreigners, invaders & looters who ruled India for 850 years, though, is a fact. Some ultra BJP-MP Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti went to the extent of calling Hindus Ram Zaday ( sons of mythical God Rama) & Muslims Haram Zaday (illegitimate children of …….){ The Indian Express, dated 14-12-2014 & GK dated 30-09-2016}.
These Hindu Nationalist Forces & their pan Hindu ideology are now firmly grounded in the social & cultural milieu in which huge Hindu population of India lives & works. It is now deeply entrenched in the Indian political, economic, religious, & even military blood. It has turned into an open Hindu ( better to call it Brahman ) pan-Nationalism as is evidently clear from the daily mob lynching , persecution, molestation, vandalism, arson , humiliation , rape, denigration of religion of 200 million Muslims & other religious & ethnic minorities in India. This is done brazenly in broad day light with active support of State machinery, more times than not. It would be advisable to recall the words of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, first VP & second President of Free India, to our minds. He said: “our principle of nationalism is not aggressive or chauvinistic…….if nationalism leads us to wrong paths, if it makes us feel that our country should be supported whether it is right or wrong, it deserves to be condemned. We have reached a stage where nationalism in not enough. ……. It does not matter if our national interests suffer as long as humanity can be saved thereby …” (Occasional Speeches & writings, (second series, 1957, pages 60 & 147). Quoting M K Gandhi in the same book at page 174, Dr. S Radhakrishnan, further writes: “my idea of nationalism is that ……if need be the whole of the country may die, so that the human race may live”. But behold the reality on the ground which is totally reverse of what M K Gandhi & Dr. S. Radhakrishnan had dreamed of for their country. To some like A P Shah, former chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India and chief justice of the Delhi High Court, it may be “false Nationalism” but the reality on the ground negates such individual opinions.

We see now pan-Brahman Nationalism in the shape of Hindutva or Hinduness / Hindu Rashtra Ideology being thrust on minority groups with the full fledged patronage of “Secular” State of India. Unity in diversity is a myth, but uniformity of common religious ideology, promoted & promulgated in the form of Hindutva, in every field of life of overwhelming Indians & all organs of Indian State, constitutes the basis of Indian Nationalism. It’s exclusive, radical, hateful, communal & revengeful, both in practice & thought. Thus, it can’t be lost sight of that the “fast approaches the stage of the ultimate inversion where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force”. (Famous 1963 quote of Ayn Rand, Russian Novelist cum Philosopher).

There is a peaceful way of formation of a Nation State by exercising right of self determination of the people. Nevertheless, pathetically, the human history has seen the more the notorious way of formation of Nation States by adopting deceptive, coercive, violent & oppressive methods of conquering a territory & imposing on its people its own rules. In India, we witness the ruling elite are articulately & systematically pitting the Hindus against Muslim & English villains in pursuit of their “lost nationalism” or “nationhood”. Under the influence of this long term goal of pan-Brahman-Nationalism of RSS & its coterie, the Kashmiri-Pandits have been supporting & sustaining it by mendacious & poisonous propaganda leveled against their ethnic-brothers–the Kashmiri-Muslims. (GK dated 16-08-2016).

The greatest tragedy that struck humanity in last century was invention of the idea of Nation State by colonialists, industrially & scientifically developed countries, to continue their control on weak & poor political entities that took birth under this practice. The worst effects of it, as we see post WW 2nd , are re-emergence of fascism in two forms: (1) Military might of the Big Powers is always going to be taken as right in geo-politics controlled by them themselves even if it causes mayhem of millions & (2) palengenetic ultra-Nationalism. Prof. Roger D. Griffin, a contemporary British historian & political theorist of Oxford University, in his book the Nature of Fascism, has come out with theory of palengenetic Nationalism as the new formation of fascism. He says that under this theory the masses are given to believe that they have lost faith in traditional politics & that they will offer them better & brighter future by voting for them under neo-fascism of palengenesis . But a revolution for rebirth of a nation bases its origin in palengenetic -myth that the nation has been lost in the past & needs to be reclaimed from its decadence. It is exactly what we hear from RSS ideologues that India was a Hindu Rashtra or Bharat Mata in the olden times without any historical account of it.

Hinduism is not a religion in the strict sense of the term. It has a geographical connotation only. It is distorted version of the word “Sindhu” by the Muslims when they came to the Indian subcontinent more than a thousand year before. {{https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hindu-hinduism-hindi-hindustan-hindutava-pundit-nehrus-singh, see Nehru’s Discovery of India & Paras Diwan’s Hindu Law}}. These expressions were used by RSS founders for the first time in early twenties of last century to cause a communal divide in Indian society of that time. Most eloquent Hindu thinker of last century, Swami Vivekananda, has explicitly rejected “Hindutva as being a political ideology aimed at achieving political power by directing the majority Community in the wrong direction. The term coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, an ‘atheist’, in 1929 is aimed at forming a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and is equal to ethnic nationalism. It has been adopted by right-wing organisations”. https:// www. youthkiawaaz.com/…/hindutva-hinduism-swami-viv… Quite like that of the Hindutva ideology of Brahman Supremacism , to remind ourselves, Nazism also tried to manipulate the general social & political believes & values of German society of its time to change it into rebirth of a racially supreme, unified & hierarchically organised system of Volksgemeinschaft which, however, failed as fascism is doomed to fail.

Note: The views expressed in this column are personal of the author & not of the organisation he works for.

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