“The meaning of nationalism has been reduced to a joke by fans of this regime. Anyone criticising the government is branded anti-national. This is a dangerous trend that can’t be good for healthy democracy at all.”
So said a self-declared liberal person. And it’s not a new grouse. This has been being repeated ever since the JNU incident came to light in the beginning of this year, where the government unwittingly made a lout like Kanhaiya Kumar a hero for the self-declared liberals.
The JNU incident hurt people like Rajdeep Sardesai so much that he declared himself an anti-national. The jibes about being anti-national and counter jibes at nationalism have been flowing fast and thick since then. Recently Filmmaker Anurag Kashap went “btw, Bharat mata ki jai”, and latest case is nationalism appearing even in debates on demonetisation.
I am not going to define nationalism or debate demonetisation here. In fact, I will start by saying that I agree with the self-declared liberal person who wrote what I quoted in the beginning of this article.
The jibe of “you are anti national” has indeed been over done by some, and on occasions, it has bordered on being ridiculous. Say, someone criticising the Modi government for not executing the demonetisation in a better fashion is by no stretch of imagination an anti-national.
In fact, even wanting to see Pakistani actors in Indian movies is not anti-national. It’s stupid, and maybe dangerously stupid, but not anti-national.
“Anti national” is a very serious term, and it shouldn’t be used casually. People on the so-called Right side of the ideological divide, where I have placed myself consciously, should realize it.
My liberal friend, what I just did was ‘introspection’.
An act that simply appears absent amongst your tribe. I had said the same a year ago in an article on my blog, and things have not changed since then. Ironically, it’s the “conservatives” who are supposed to not change with time, but in our country, “liberals” don’t change.
May I request you to just introspect a little for a change? Learn from the liberals in the US, who are indulging in such acts after Donald Trump won. But I suspect that you are more impressed with those who are shouting “Not My President” and are in the streets burning US flags.
Those who are introspecting realize that they went too far in labelling people racist, sexist, fascist, bigot, evil, et al, just because they agreed with Donal Trump on various issues. And that you can’t win over people by insulting them.
When I heard that, I felt that there is something for the Right here in India too to learn. We shouldn’t go too far in branding people “anti national” for everything.
But my liberal friend, have you for a second felt something similar? Have you ever introspected?
That just as you accuse fans of this regime of reducing “nationalism” to a joke, you could have been doing the same to a lot of terms, especially terms like “secularism”, “tolerance”, “progressive”, “social justice”, and of course, “liberalism”?
Just like your Rajdeep Sardesai, within a week, got so incensed that he declared “Yes, I am anti-national”, you can’t see why many, after putting up with your reductionism for years, started feeling “to hell with you, yes, I am communal right winger fascist”?
You find nationalism reduced to a joke just within nine months, while you’ve been reducing those terms to joke for decades now.
You will realize that if you take a break from labelling people regressive Sanghi and bigoted Bhakt for disagreeing, and indulge in a bit of introspection.
Do that for yourself. Do that for the nation. Perhaps that will be a nationalist thing to do?
(originally published on OpIndia.com)