Any attempt to rewrite nationalism to the satisfaction of certain disgruntled elements will prove counterproductive.
There are many literary and academic descriptions of nationalism. But to my humble mind the best and justified definition of nationalism is ‘ultimate possessiveness about one’s motherland in a dignified and more honorable way’. Being nationalist with patriotic zeal is a must for every well-thought-of national and any one devoid of nationalism practically ceases to be a loyal citizen.
India is a vast country with a heterogeneous social, religious, cultural and linguistic making. Till the end of autocracy (1947) nationalism had a very different meaning of unifying the nation to fight oppressors with all might and unity and at times was interpreted as radicalism. However, after independence the architects of constitution gave it a different patriotic look and complexion where democracy and secularism were made essential for existence of the nation and its people. Meaning of nationalism was so defined, that it would neither mean unfaithfulness towards nation nor will it ever touch the borders of jingoism. For the last more than six decades of independence this form of nationalism was put to test many a time, but anyhow every time it survived of all abrasions and misinterpretations at the hands of vested interests. During this period role and loyalty of common-man was vital in reading the real meaning of nationalism in its true spirit and to the best of constitutional interpretation. But, in the recent past, for the last couple of years the Indian nationalism is feeling suffocated under an immense pressure on ground. Some vested interests are trying hard to redefine or rewrite it with strings and attachments that pull it away from the spirit of constitutional understanding of extreme loyalty with no tags of religious, ethnic, linguistic or cultural discrimination.A nationalist is a nationalist, and nowhere in constitution is it mentioned that a patriotic native must carry a label of nationalism and should speak, behave and eat in a particular way. Speaking and eating in his or her own way is right of every citizen as guaranteed by the constitution, till he or she does not violate any law of the land? Nationalism cannot be pushed into someone’s psyche and soul, but evolves within a civilized human being once he finds the real nation and nationals around him. If we define and interpret nationalism on the lines and pattern of religion, cast, colour and creed then it is not nationalism, but sectarian nationality with true nationalism on the backburner. Nationalism coexist and blends well with democracy and in democracy ‘majority is always authority’, but if some establishments try to hijack the concept of majority and dictate their own agenda then whole conception of democracy and nationalism become irrelevant and farce.
We make tall claims of living in a contemporary era of knowledge and cherish knowledge as one of the most valued attributes, but unfortunately, we fail to comprehend that knowledge teaches us certain values—values to respect each other as fellow citizens with similar contours of nationalism and same share of patriotism. Indian nationalism, and for that matter nationalism throughout the world is not so fragile that it requires strengthening by sloganeering in a particular language or dialect or will become weak with changing dietary habits of its followers. Nationalism comes by conviction not by compulsion. Attempts by some socio-political sects to rewrite nationalism with a plan to suit their own agenda will yield nothing but more hatred—antagonist to true nationalism. And hatred is the fiercest force that breaks societies and nations. India as a rapidly growing nation and its progressive, peace loving people cannot afford such divisive hatred. So, the whole country has to rise and make all divisive forces to understand the constitution in right perspective. The people of India and its leaders should define the true meaning of nationalism in the context of our constitution and democracy.
Indian democracy with enormous people’s participation is considered one of the most vibrant democracies; particularly in the sub-continent it has its own standing. It becomes imperative for people of India and its leaders to be steadfast in making it a glorious democracy where there will be no discrimination and different benchmarks of nationalism for different people. Any attempt to redefine or rewrite nationalism to the satisfaction of certain disgruntled elements will prove counterproductive not only for the harmony within the country but for its democratic image as well.