Never before in history did an Indian, living in Lakshwadeep or Nagaland, think that he was an Indian. This program became successful to a great extent in uniting various cultures, regions, languages, tribes, clans, kingdoms, etc, to create an Indian nation.
At the same time, this attempt suffered a brief setback when a huge chunk of Muslims of this sub-continent wanted a
However, the rest of us who inherited India were quite happy with the results and continued to push and promote one identity- that of an Indian, not knowing we were creating a new ideology called nationalism which would have its own set of drawbacks.
Insecurities of a new nation
The leaders of post-Independent India were overzealous in their attempts to impose this new identity onto the Indians. They feared
In the beginning, right after
In the process, we created some symbols- a flag, an anthem, a map, etc, and we created movies, songs, text books, etc, to indoctrinate them. These symbols were heavily used to rally its people under a banner of nationalism. Also important was binding everyone under a common grief- which is so essential to create national identities. We got our share too- when
On the whole this drive to inculcate nationalism was a huge success. When
Learning their lessons, after WWII, most of
Though there are enough signs to indicate that certain fascist fo
Blurring local identities
There is a negative side effect to all this which we cannot ignore. In an overzealous attempt to establish a single identity- that of nation, we have consistently led campaigns to blur other identities which are as important to the Indian people and to the very existence of India in the long run
Nowadays, it is preferable and politically correct to call oneself an Indian but not a Telugu or Bengali. In the movie, Chak De, the coach of the Indian women hockey team exhorts every player to call herself an Indian, as a response, when those players call out their state name. The audience was happy to see him reprimand them. I found that quite ridiculous.
I was told that in a TV show called Voice of India, one contestant protested when each person was referred to the state or region he belonged to. Instead, he wanted everyone to be called an Indian. The audience applauded him and the practice of naming one’s state was discontinued (for a while). I find such attempts foolish and funny.
If it is an ‘Indian’ Hockey team, isn’t it redundant to say one is Indian? If it is voice of ‘
In our overzealous attempt to promote nationalism, we curb our regional identities, thus reducing the Miss India pageant into a joke, selecting contestants from a small section of population and that too by one agency. In my opinion, it should be called 'Miss Femina' (or something like that) and they should just drop the tag ‘
What is wrong in saying where a person is from, when living in
In Information Theory we learn that if you transmit a symbol which the other person already knows then the information content is zero. Its better you don’t transmit it. If you tell the other person some information that he already knows, what good is it? If you have to rate Indians on their idiocy, I believe this should rank first.
Nationalism as ideology
For example, the people of the North, who speak Hindi, think they are more Indian than the people of the South just because they speak Hindi which they think is the national language. All Indians should be told that there is NO such a thing called NATIONAL LANGAUGE in
However, there is arrogance amongst certain Hindi speakers to assume that everyone should be speaking Hindi. Such a false notion arises because of our attempts to blur our regional identities while trying to impose national identities.
In another example, in an ongoing debate on this blog at 'separate Telangana', the detractors always bring in the argument of 'breakup of the nation' to discredit the local movement. Such detractors who equate 'creation of a new state within the legal and constitutional rights of
It has become a practice in all spheres of public debate to take upon oneself a higher moral authority being defenders of national symbols while portraying the opponents as traitors.
In our overzealous attempts to establish nationalism as the highest virtue, we have created a new ideology. And that ideology has now grown strong and has come back to haunt us. In this game of proving oneself better than the other, the highest flag bearer gets the right to impose himself onto others even if he is pursuing his vested interests. The question of patriotism is answered by how smartly you cover your vested interest in the garb of ‘for the sake of nation’ slogans.
Other negatives of excessive nationalism
Excessive nationalism when not really in use sometimes vents itself as other isms- such as regionalism or communalism. As a corollary, certain groups starting out with parochial and radical regionalisms and communalisms get legitimacies when they portray themselves as nationalists. For example, Shiv sainiks who named themselves after Shivaji (who is considered a patriot under a national banner), first targeted Tamils in Mumbai, displaying their excessive regionalism, and later transformed themselves into a group targeting Muslims, displaying their excessive communalism. They get their legitimacies from many educated Hindus when they champion nationalism. Many Hindus laud Bal Thackeray and his Shiv sainiks when he takes a belligerent stand against
Certain groups move between these various isms very easily. The defenders of Kannada in Bangalore target Tamils on Cauvery issues, and then vent it out on non-Kannadigas during other incidents showing excessive regionalism, but also portray themselves as the defenders of the nation when protesting against Narayana Murthy over his comments on National Anthem. BJP and its affiliations use this card on a regular basis. They are defenders of national prestige and pride on the national arena while targeting Muslims and Christians in their local constituencies.
At the same time,
A national identity encroaching upon a local identity is as bad as one local identity encroaching upon the other local identity. We have to learn to live with our identities, be proud of them, and be able to respect other identities of other people. In a previous article on this topic (India: North and South Debate) I argued that the strength of
Only by allowing its people to celebrate their own identities,