How to prove your nationalism? Sing national anthem 24X7, hoist tricolour on your head
New Delhi, July 28: Have we suddenly become so "anti-national" that all--from politicians to courts--want Indians to wear nationalism on their sleeves? Why every day we are being asked to prove our love for our motherland? Could nationalism and patriotism be thrust down our throats?
Isn't love an innate quality that springs from deep within? Then why the government of the day wants to inject doses of nationalism on us?
Right from vice-chancellor of the premier Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), M Jagadesh Kumar, proposing to uproot a decommissioned army tank, probably from a defence warehouse where it's lying abandon in the midst of a pile of scrap, and plant it on the campus to remind students of the army's sacrifices, to the Madras High Court making singing of Vande Mantaram (the national song) mandatory in schools, colleges and offices across Tamil Nadu, every day we are being bombarded with a new set of rules and ideas which smacks of a conspiracy to curtail our personal choices in a free country.
In a nation which highly detest public display of affection, also known as PDA, why suddenly we are being asked to beat our chests to declare our love for the motherland?
Probably, something is wrong with the air we breathe. Or, just that we too want to have a flashy culture of nationalism--where we scream at your loudest to declare our unconditional allegiance more with those who make rules and regulations, than the country itself.
What about those who don't know how to "shout"? Or, those who refuse to follow orders from authorities?
Will they be booked under the draconian law of sedition? Or, be branded as "anti-nationals" or "traitors" and declared outcasts forever? Isn't it enough that we pay our taxes on time, follow traffic rules, go to offices on time, cook meals for our spouses and children and commit no burglary and murder?
What more the government wants? It looks like the Narendra Modi government wants total submission from Indians. Otherwise, why is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre entering our personnel space?
Its backdoor attempt to ban beef across the country, making Aadhaar card mandatory and demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 all of a sudden last year--the unilateral decisions of the government in the name of cow protection, doling out welfare schemes to needy and eradicate black money from the economy--don't have people's mandate.
Modi and his teammates, known for their wordplay and catchy one-liners, promised "minimum government, maximum governance" when they came to power three years ago. Now, what we see is "minimum freedom, maximum surveillance".
The worst part is that anyone who criticises the government over issues like farmer suicide, jobless growth, high prices of essential items, rise in communalism, deterioration of law and order in Kashmir and mob lynching by cow vigilantes, to name a few, a gang of Modi bhakts springs up to attack the person so much that either he/she would be maimed for a lifetime or turned into another "blind" supporter of the government.
It is this fierce attack against any opposition that most of the critical voices against the government have faded away from the public domain. The recent case is the resignation of veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who is known for his honest and investigative journalism.
Thakurta quit as the editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) after he was asked by the trust that manages the internationally renowned journal to withdraw two articles critical of the government for favouring the Adani business group.
The best form of nationalism India should demand from its citizens is to respect each other first--including those who are different from the majority. Rest will follow.
Or, how about promoting Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's view that humanism is above nationalism?
Unfortunately, in today's challenging time of "hyper-nationalism", the bard is under attack for promoting love among us. The "hyper-nationalists" want his name removed from the textbooks.
Sadly, poetry has lost its battle with politics.