We Indians take esteem pride in our country for we honour ourselves to be a part of this great nation. Every citizen’s heart dwells with happiness while talking about India’s richness and diversity. We’ve fought really hard to reach where we are today and nobody in this country can disrespect that. We do have our flaws and areas we need to work on, and we recognise them. We work to make them better, to make our country better. After all, that’s what patriotism is, right? To honour your country, see its flaws and work to make them better. However, that work sometimes takes the route of unrest, protests and concerns, but the end result, my friend, has always been to see the country flourish. And I see no other way to define nationalism better.
But this India, the new India, sees nationalism differently. The new India sees nationalism with political parties. This new India prefers to turn a blind eye on the flaws and goes by ignoring them. The new India prefers unity in sameness, as opposed to our old unity in diversity. The new India, at the core, has forgotten how to differentiate between the country and the Prime Minister. A country is much bigger than an individual, no matter how powerful or famous. A country’s needs and betterment shall always be put above an individual’s ideology because when we lose sight of that, we lose sight of what is truly good for our country. The nationalism that we used to know united people, but the new nationalism that this new India is walking towards unites people against each other. It makes them think what is in it for their community and gives them ignorance to hide their privilege.
This new nationalism makes Indians look like Hindu, Sikhs, Muslims, and not Indians. This new nationalism allows people to value difference of opinions on law, policy or government, over the debate of human rights violation. Do we even realise how problematic that is? The very spirit of a nation is its people and if you stop caring about what your government does to your very own people, how can you claim to care about your country? In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “It is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education that teaches them that the country is greater than the ideals of humanity.”
Well, you see, this nationalism will make your stay adamant at your stand and make you deliberately choose ignorance, while your country breaks into pieces. Propaganda, conspiracies, terrorism- these words are thrown around like candy when it comes for the government to take accountability and we don’t see a problem with it. We deemed it fine to burn pictures and posters of famous women like Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Meena Harris in the middle of the road when all they did was raise their voice against human rights violation. Nowhere did they mention their support for the farm laws or anything, they just asked the government to respect the boundaries of humanity. And we? Well, we chose to harass them in return for it. So much for humanity!
So, what does this even mean? Does this mean we’re ready to let their human rights be violated or we’re okay with them being this significantly mistreated just because they don’t support what the government pushed down their throats? This wasn’t the democracy our forefathers chose for us. This wasn’t the patriotism the country would’ve chosen for us. But this, right here, is the new nationalism that we’ve chosen for ourselves. And it is time we question are we really okay with it?
One important characteristic of having begun after struggles and fights is the ability to look back, introspect at what went wrong and not doing it again. We have our beautiful yet painful history in front of our eyes every time we lose sight of what we’re doing wrong. All we need is to just look back, give it a moment and think- when did we start defining people by blood and race? We said we’re all brothers, since our mother, India, is the same for all, didn’t we? I hope your conscience answers that for you.
That is the thing about politicians. They make you see everything like politics, every disagreement as a conspiracy and every disagreeing individual as an anti-national. But our country’s history boastfully claims how disagreements are the very spirit of democracy. So every individual that stands against the oppressor, stands for the country, for the country’s people. How else do we define nationalism? And if these people are pro-country but maybe not pro-ruling government and you outrightly call them anti-nationals, question yourself. Ask yourself if your nationalism is with the country or with the government. And if you end up choosing the latter, or claiming they are one and the same, it is time you go back and introspect your ideals. Because my beloved nationalist, the ruling party’s influence and dominance over your ideology is allowing you to put an individual above the country, and that is not nationalism.
So you may go out and call the farmers dying on the roads a conspiracy or international celebrities concerned about the lives of actual people propaganda or any individual that stands against the government an extremist, but you may not be able to say you care more about humans than your firm stand or your country over your ruling party. And this is what the new nationalism is all about. You are so adamant on claiming your government is right that finding an actual solution for the people is off the charts. Remember, the people sitting right now on the roads, they are the ground on which the laws would be tested, their livelihood depends on it. They are not the ground on which some policy is debated. So even if you implement the laws for them at the end of the day, what good would it do if they’re not happy with it? This new nationalism might stop you from bending and finding the right solution, but only you have the power to change this new nationalism.
Again, “you cannot rationalise when you’re a sycophant.” Choose for yourself.