Hindu nationalism…is a self-description used in the post-Independence period by the main political embodiments of Hindu revivalism, the Hindu Mahasabha…the Jana Singh…and the BJP…in India, “nationalism” doesn’t have the negative connotations which it has in Western intellectual circles. On the contrary, the term is hallowed by its assocation with the freedom movement. It is also of little use trying to catch this nationalism in one of the proliferating “models” of nationalism. For the people concerned, it simply means “love of one’s country,” and in all other respects its meaning can vary: it is not a bourgeois or petit-bourgeois movements (as Marxists would have it)…
– Excerpted from Dr. Elst’s book
However, a nation state requires a nation and an ideology of nationalism. Simple, old-fashioned, non-ideological patriotism is not enough for it. More so if it is a republican state, led by new, insecure, nervous political leaders worried about its diverse, ‘ungovernable’ citizens and psychologically not yet closely linked to the state.
That is why V D Savarkar, despite being an avowed atheist and dismissive towards Hinduism as a religion, had moved towards the idea of Hindutva, which redefined the Hindu as a nation and Hindutva as their national ideology. This was years before Muhammad Ali Jinnah spoke of Hindus and Muslims as separate nations.
Excerpted from a newspaper column by political psychologist and alleged social commentator, Ashis Nandy.
As I’ve noted earlier, Ashis Nandy is endowed with the rare gift of writing pieces, whose titles are completely disconnected with the content. This piece is titled Partition And The Fantasy Of A Masculine State. What follows is state-of-art gibberish with selective quoting of history and heaping scorn on everything in the world except focusing on the issue. That the Slimes calls it a “top article” means that the Slimes deserves serial therapy in psychoanalysis.
Despite all his claims and “fame” as a psychologist–now a “political” psychologist, which is quite apt–Nandy remains at heart a true Communist. We’ll see this in a bit but before that, we should only marvel at Nandy’s banality. Compare for instance, the clarity of Elst’s grasp of Hindu nationalism. In a line, Elst sums it up as a love for one’s motherland. But Nandy is compelled to equate nationalism with unmitigated evil because his definition of nationalism is derived from the concept of nation states of 19th and 20th century Italy and Germany, which caused two world wars. As an esteemed “analyst,” doesn’t it occur to him that a phenomenon, an idea, an issue has at least two sides? But he insists otherwise because a changing India continues to deliver fatal blows to his central thesis.
India is getting globalised and the urban, modernising, middle class is expanding. A pan-Indian, media-based political consciousness is crystallising and it includes a packaged theory of history. A large middle class bent on avenging historical wrongs could be a dangerous vector. It may opt for a nationalism that will not see the partitioning of British India as a tragedy because millions Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs suffered from it. Nor will it care that partition devastated myriad communities, cultures and inter-religious bonds. It will remember partition, as some already do, as a humiliation of the Hindus and as a loss of real estate. I look at the future with apprehension and fear that we may have already lost a part of our selfhood.
It takes only an Ashis Nandy to not recognize the Partition and consequently, Pakistan for what it is: a permanent sore that continues to fester because it remains committed to the unfinished Arabic/Mughal dream of Islamizing India. Not facing this reality directly won’t make this sore go away. The Acorn’s post in a related context nails it well:
Instead of reconciling with Pakistan, he says, Indians want to “teach Pakistan a lesson” and put them in their place. Now assuming this is true, does Mr Bhagat pause to examine why? Is it perhaps because Pakistan has devoted itself to damaging India right from the word go? Reconciliation is not a rational response towards Pakistan until the time it unequivocally transforms itself into a country that is at peace with itself and its neighbour. Yet, the story since 1998 at least is one where India has made repeated attempts to reconcile-at political and popular levels-and on each occasion received a dagger in its flesh in return. So yes, bashing Pakistan might be considered patriotic and make good politics, but for good reason.
Whether the Partition was good for Hindus is quite debatable but it certainly showed that the Islamist dream was partially realized; it was realized because of a lack of united and decisive Hindu action–or capitulation to one man’s unbendable will if you will. The “loss of real estate” is only incidental compared to this. The continued attacks against the Indian state are both, repeated reminders of this Islamic dream and wake-up calls to set Pakistan–and India–right. The happy stupor of our political class and the likes of Nandy is astounding to say the least. When Pakistani terror outfits carry out these attacks openly in the name of Islam, quote the Koran as justification, and use the names of medieval Islamic conquerors for inspiration, our intellectual runts actually hear the exact opposite. There’s no bigger instance of internalizing the fear of Islam than this. The fact that some of these runts opt for selective deafness owing to other, selfish agendas is purely incidental.
The lack of a cold, reasoned, and concerted response from the Hindu leadership also helps these peewees. Hence the Nandys of the world thrive and peddle things like loss of real estate, etc. However, that has changed significantly. A good indicator is the absolute refusal to give opinion or editorial space to the Hindu viewpoint in the mainstream media. The Hindu revival movement in the ’90s exposed the powerlessness of defending the secular viewpoint in the press. Another indicator is how the ’70s generation of Indians refuses to accept bullshit even if it’s doled out for free by eminent psychologists packaged in any form. This generation isn’t really afraid of calling bullshit by its name. The most visible evidence of this phenomenon is the huge number of blogs critical precisely of such people as Ashis Nandy. Most significantly, this generation is drawn almost entirely from the middle class and is not affiliated to any ideology, or outfit . Which is why I called Nandy a Communist. An educated, travelled, prosperous, and self-aware middle class is Enemy Number 1 of any Communist because it keeps asking discomfiting questions. The likes of Nandy, Shekhar Gupta (recall his shamefully racist piece demonizing middle-class Gujaratis), Guha et al have continued to spite the Indian middle class because it is asserting itself in almost all spheres. If it questions the history it was taught, the subject itself is branded as “packaged.” If it questions economic policies, it is branded as “aggressive,” “materialist,” “consumerist,” and “uncaring.” If it insists on national security, it is branded as “fascist,” “brainwashed by militant ideologies,” and “warmonging.” The latest addition to these labels is “Masculine.”
But hasn’t Ashis Nandy been awarded some kind of a sarkari award?