IN INDIA in recent years some people have made the test of nationalism as hatred of minorities (particularly Muslims, but also Christians), hatred of Western culture and customs (e.g. Valentine Day), hatred of Muslim names of cities and places (e.g. Allahabad, Mughal Gardens, etc), and hatred of people who speak out against injustice (who are often branded as ‘Tukde tukde’ gang, urban naxals, etc).
From this perspective, Hitler, who persecuted Jews, was a great nationalist, and Lenin was anti-nationalist, as he was against injustice.
My own test is very different: a true Indian nationalist, in my opinion, is one who hates poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, casteism, communalism, etc and fights against these evils.
I am not at all impressed by those who claim that India has the fastest growing economy in the world.
Even assuming that the claim is correct (and I for one doubt it), the important question to be asked is who is getting the fruits of this growth, the Indian masses, or a handful of big businessmen ?
It is reported that 1% rich Indians own 40% of India’s wealth
On the other hand, it is reported that India has slipped from position number 101 to 107 out of the 121 countries surveyed by Global Hunger Index, and has the highest child stunting and child wasting in the world.
What kind of growth is this ?
I love the good things in Indian culture, its great achievements in science, literature, art etc.
But I hate the caste system which divided us, and continues to divide us (at a time when it is absolutely necessary to be united if we want to resolve our huge socio-economic problems), and has treated dalits abominally.
I hate communalism i.e. hatred of minorities, for the same reason. India is a country of great diversity, with numerous religions, castes, languages, races, customs, etc, which is because it is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America.
So the only correct policy if we wish India to hold together and prosper is secularism and giving equal respect to all religions.
Those who say that India got freedom in 1947 after 1000 years of slavery equate India with its Hindu majority. But the Mughals, though Muslims, were very much Indians.
For instance, Babur may have been a foreigner, but his grandson Akbar was very much an Indian, as he was born in India, lived his life here, and identified himself with the people here (he joined in many Hindu festivals). Many Hindus, e.g. Todarmal, Man Singh, Birbal, etc occupied the top positions in his Empire.
Also Read: Composite Nationalism – Need to Reassess
Under Mughal rule India became the richest country in the world, enjoying 25% of the world’s wealth and trade, which benefited all who lived here, including Hindus.
Akbar’s successors too were secular (though there is a controversy about Aurangzeb). The Nawabs of Avadh, Murshidabad, Tipu Sultan, etc, though Muslims, were also secular.
So how can we say that Muslim rulers in India were not Indians, and that India was not free under their rule?
Also Read: Mughal Gardens – Name Changed, But Why?
In my opinion a true nationalist in India is one who wants to abolish its massive and widespread poverty, hunger, unemployment, casteism, communalism etc, and works for it.
There can be no other definition of a nationalist.
Disclaimer : PunjabTodayTV.com and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors’ right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabTodayTV.com or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.
Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.
— Team PT