There was an interesting article in the Times of India dated 18th November 2018 on editorial page regarding distinction between Patriots and Fraud Nationalists by a very well-known columnist. It was interesting because sometimes those who purport to be highly educated, informed and well-meaning on surface can be pathetically wrong because the arguments they present are highly loaded and motivated. In the bargain they lose rationality and fairness. The author feels that in contemporary India, nationalism is more about nation’s land and imagery and not about love for its people and terms it as fraudulent nationalism. One wonders how he has arrived at this conclusion since both nationalism and patriotism are about the nation and nation includes both – the land with its imagery and the people who live on that land.
Nationalism symbolises loyalty towards ones country while patriotism symbolises love for one’s country. If one goes a bit deeper, loyalty is all about caring and safeguarding of interests while devotion and caring are inherent to love. Therefore nationalism and patriotism do tend to merge at some point. No wonder it would be difficult to find a nationalist who is not a patriot or the other way around. However there is a subtle difference between a nationalist and patriot. The former is possibly more vocal and visibly possessive of his nation’s independence, beliefs, heritage and physical boundaries – be it in front of internal dissent or external threats. A patriot on the other hand is devoted and displays vigorous support in all matters related to his nation – more so when confronted by outsiders. Without a doubt in the final analysis both love their land and its people.
For centuries Himalayan ranges have been seen as protectors of northern borders of Mother India since they were considered invincible. For a nation as old as India with thousands of years of history and heritage, some physical entities like Himalayas, Rivers Ganga and Yamuna and Brahmaputra are not considered lifeless. These life giving and lifesaving entities have become living legends that are revered by succeeding generations and immortalised in songs, poetry and stories. However once Chinese crossed the same in 1962 and invaded parts of India, the nation as a whole felt that the sentinel on the border had been wounded and therefore the nation and its people were in danger. That is the sentiment behind the song Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo composed after the 1962 debacle and its line – Jab ghayal hua Himalaya, khatre mein pari azadi. Unfortunately the author in his quest to prove a point about fraudulent nationalism seems to have deliberately misinterpreted the words of the song to summarise that contemporary Indian nationalists are worried only for the land and imagery that defines India and not its people.
Can a nation be only about its people and not about its geographical land mass? The question does sound very hypothetical. In reality a nation is defined by its land mass with its specific geographical boundaries, the imagery that lies within and the people who inhabit the same. People may migrate and change nations but nations tend to remain where they are unless wars or other factors redefine their physical boundaries. A nation is certainly about its people but people are defined by their nation and not vice versa. Israel is a nation in Middle East that was the result of redefining of boundaries after Second World War. Prior to that though Jewish people existed in many parts of Europe and rest of the world but they were never seen as a nation by themselves. Their national identity came only after Israel was carved out as a geographical entity. There are many other such examples with Pakistan and Bangladesh being the more important ones. Today people in Pakistan or Bangladesh who were once Indians nationals do not see themselves as Indians by any stretch of imagination. If today India confronts China over its claim on Arunachal it does so not only for the territory but also for love of people from that state.
The article in question is frankly not about nationalism or patriotism at national level. In reality it is about the perceived rise of Hindu dominance in our country in last three to four years under BJP government. The case being made about fraudulent nationalists who have no love for people is actually a reference to the current BJP leadership in view of the much hyped mistrust and discord that is being seen between the majority and minority communities in last few years. One wonder what stops renowned columnists to speak frankly instead of writing in a veiled manner. If BJP is seen to be only pro majority then it would be a given that it loves Hindu community who are nearly 83% of nation’s population. So if BJP leadership loves nearly 105 crores Indians then certainly its leaders cannot be Fraud Nationalists as defined by the author himself. A few misguided individuals on the fringe within or outside BJP certainly do not represent a national party in its entity. Every Indian political party, majority or minority dominated, has such exceptions.
In fact this argument can be extended to many journalists, columnists, social activists, politicians and others who seem to be part of ‘The Lobby’ that endeavours to appease minorities but has no hesitation in denouncing the majority as a whole. If this calls for spreading false, mischievous or unsubstantiated canards The Lobby does so without batting an eye lid. Thus they appear to have no love for the 105 crores Indians while they woo the balance few crores to further their selfish and at times anti national agendas. It would be very naïve to assume that they genuinely love the small percentage that forms the minorities within the country. Their existence depends on creating discord between communities so that India continues to be in turmoil that results in slowing down the pace of development. These dollar seeking and establishment bashing individuals have no love for anyone. Should these individuals who represent The Lobby be termed as Fraud Nationalists? If love for one’s nation is about love for its people then certainly they should be.