Practicing true nationalism, today’s politicians should work towards creating a fear-free nation and society where the rights of the citizen are sacred and protected
Over the last few years, nationalism has been the subject of discussion in practically every sphere of our society. While a healthy debate on the subject is always welcome, invariably we find this discussion on nationalism spinning out of control and evolving into arguments and political slugfests. This blame game certainly does not bode well for our nation and society. Nationalism is a process that binds a country and should promote love and harmony among the citizens. It cannot be a catalyst to cause cultural, social, economic, geographical, historical or religious rift in the country. On the contrary, it is supposed to safeguard the interests of the common man and should be a catalyst in the progress and prosperity of the nation.
As per Chanakya, “The key to happiness is prosperity.” As per him, it’s the duty of the head of the nation to ensure prosperity of citizens. However, I doubt if this can be achieved by clashes of ideology or by demeaning each other.
Chanakya further elaborates on the four duties of the State. These duties are to expand facilities in wealth and resources, to guard the gains that have been obtained, to increase/expand what has been obtained/achieved, to equally distribute the resources and wealth among the people of the country. A great State must focus on these four principles and be guided by them.
India remained subjugated under foreign rule for a long period but never let go of its spiritual identity that propagated universal brotherhood, love, tolerance, humanity, compassion and truth. Though India is an amalgamation of myriad religions, castes, creeds, cultures and languages, our spiritual identity has kept us unified and finally led us to liberty. India’s freedom fighters contributed immensely to the struggle for India’s independence but by and large our fight for liberty had a unique, amazing and dominant identity — non-violence. Perhaps it was because India’s DNA had non-violence and tolerance deeply embedded in it. Our respect for our diversities is the key to keeping India united.
It’s incumbent upon the leaders of the country to work towards providing better services and infrastructure to the citizens. The leaders must work for more equitable distribution of resources and improvement of infrastructure. People should be free to choose and pursue traditions, lifestyle, language, religion and so on. This liberty to choose is the fundamental cornerstone of a conflict-free society and shall ensure that India stands tall among the nations of the world. Clashing on language, religion, race, colour and gender will shatter the idea that is India.
Being the guardian of the East, it’s incumbent upon India and Indians to symbolise unity in diversity. India must give out a message that it looks at the world as one brotherhood populated by men and women without conflict of cast, creed or colour. If a section of people tries to tie down or define another section of people into boundaries, the consequences shall be disastrous. Every human being aspires to establish individuality and in pursuit of individuality shall try level best to break the barriers imposed by others. A nationalism governed by boundaries shall never let a nation stand united.
India is a large and diverse country and can progress only if the corner stones and principles of the Constitution are respected and adhered to. The profusion of aggressive slogans and the naked display of might that we are witnessing today are damaging the nation. Hitler is a glaring example of what happens when a leader propagates racial superiority. History is witness that his actions and thought process virtually destroyed Germany while pursuing his ridiculous racial agenda.
It’s imperative that citizens be left free to decide their slogan, whether it will be “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, “Vande Mataram”, “Jai Hind”, “Jai Bharat” or “Hindustan Zindabad.” Eventually they all convey the same sentiment. A citizen serving the nation by adhering to the principles of the Constitution deserves the freedom to decide how to express love and respect for the nation. If a citizen has been responsibly fulfilling his duties towards the country, then he has the right to expect that political parties and their leaders shall fulfill their obligations towards him and the nation to the best of their abilities. Good governance certainly does not mean misleading the citizens and complicating core issues and deficiencies with aggressive slogans.
True nationalism lies in providing employment to the youth of the nation, ensuring a better minimum support price to the farmers, creating a simplified tax regime for the traders, providing protection to women, promoting communal harmony, ensuring freedom of Press, securing and safeguarding the borders of the nation and most importantly respecting the tenants of the Constitution. Political parties and leaders should be judged and evaluated by these guiding principles of nationalism. Sports, cinema, telecom revolution, ease of transport, availability of regional food pan-India, migration of students from different regions to universities across the nation are a few factors that have been great catalysts in unifying the nation. 1985 saw three major revolutions — automobiles, television and communication — further unifying the citizens.
It’s important to understand that India can best progress following the traditional progressive principles of culture. Chanakya’s principle is that every citizen is free to live life in accordance with his/her beliefs and principles and if need be to lay down one’s life to safeguard them. Let’s consider the two main religious sects of the nation, Hindus and Muslims. Since time immemorial, the followers of Sanatan Dharma are free to worship idols or whatever form of God they choose. Sanatan Dharma stresses on freedom to pursue personal beliefs. On the other hand Islam is founded on the basic tenet of equality as it accords a uniform status to all Muslims.
Ilama Iqbal has summed it up beautifully in the following lines which state that all are equal in the eyes of the Almighty — “Sultan and slave stood side by side. Then there was no servant nor master, nothing did them divide.” These fine traditions make India a country that accords its citizens complete personal freedom.
If we reflect on the struggle for India’s Independence, different people and parties took different paths in their fight for liberty but no one branded the other anti-national. Even those who did not participate in this noble cause were not criticised. Sadly, in today’s India there is a mad rush to certify nationalists and nationalism. It is not enough to be a nationalist; one has to be a certified nationalist. The question is do those certifying qualify as nationalists? Fact is, as compared to today’s leaders, those during the Independence struggle and nascent years of the formation of our nation were men and women of true character and patriots. When I say character, I mean that our freedom fighters never marketed their nationalism. For them, serving the nation was a privilege and not a tool to grab power. Citizens of India should be driven and inspired by the nationalism of both Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi. They both propagated a nationalism encompassing humanity and compassion.
Practicing true nationalism, today’s politicians should work towards creating a fear-free nation and society where the rights of the citizen are sacred and protected. In conclusion, I state that those who agree with my thoughts are as much nationalist as those who disagree with me.
(The writer is a national spokesperson, Indian National Congress)
Writer: Rajiv Tyagi
Courtesy: The Pioneer