George Soros, the Billionaire American Investor is accredited with the following statement made at World Economic Forum in Davos- “Nationalism, far from being reversed, made further headway. The biggest and most frightening setback came in India, where a democratically elected Narendra Modi is creating a Hindu nationalist state, imposing punitive measures on Kashmir, a semi-autonomous Muslim region, and threatening to deprive millions of Muslims of their citizenship.” The Indian Media on the prowl for harvesting opinions of selective international personages to authenticate their stand point that Modi govt’s CAA is a reflection of its abhorrence to secularism, promptly latched on to it.
As far as Soros is concerned he has the dubious distinction of pulling down govts and squeezing them with his financial clout to suit his business needs. The “Open Society Foundation” funded and controlled by him has been indulging in malefic political activities in various countries. In countries- like Russia, Hungary, Israel, Turkey, Malaysia and even Pakistan they were forced to close their shops and shift out. This much would suffice for us to surmise what credence needs to be accorded for political statements from Individuals like Soros. Similar has been the case with Ford foundation in India which was more actively involved in influencing country’s political discourse in the guise of philanthropic mission.
Some thinkers, who are concerned about the rise of nationalism as a threat to open society are trying to superimpose 19th & 20th century history on to 21 st century political system prevailing in the world. In the previous centuries there were significant number of regimes which were monarchical or dictatorial and a strong wave of nationalism necessarily paved way for expansionism and a resultant war. However in 21st century most of the nations are democratic where in an elected govt is at the helm of affairs. In such nations no leader is totally free to pursue policies of aggression with other countries without soliciting support from the elected representatives of people. Every country in the world is subject to censure over its contentious policies from other countries which are part of a world body of Nations. With the emergence of various groups of nations forming various cooperation blocks with the intention of having a common defense arrangement the imperialism and expansionism has become an outdated pursuit.
Almost all the philosophers and thinkers of eminence however agree on one thing that, notwithstanding the merits or demerits of the Nationalism, Nationalism is an emotion that just cannot be wished away or suppressed. The Nationalism pangs are as primordial in human beings as the rudimentary emotions of love and craving for being loved. The concept of National anthem is an 18th century phenomena that started in Spain and many countries followed it. If nationalism did not have a worthwhile place in a polity, no country would have thought it fit to have National anthem of their own and take pride in singing it.
The Ethnic Nationalism among various other forms of Nationalism is the strongest and it cannot be stifled. The events of the past history around the world will tell us that fragmentation of Europe, especially that of Russia as well as of African continent in to smaller nations is precisely because of rise of ethnic Nationalism. Even the modern day Brexit in Britain is a direct consequence of rise of British Nationalism. The Brits were becoming more averse to outsiders competing for jobs in Britain and an open door for all immigrants of Europe.
Countries like Germany, Japan, Italy, which were devastated due to imperial ambition of their by Military leaders who manipulatively channelized heightened Nationalism to serve their self-aggrandizement, also rebuilt itself in to a strong nation in a few decades solely because of strong revival of Nationalism. The burgeoning Israelite Nation, surrounded by adversary neighbors could not have been a reality, without that strong bond of heightened Nationalism. Many countries like USA and some progressive democracies of Europe have been dulled into deep slumber by prosperity and attended by false notions of liberalism to keep their Nationalism wrapped up in their closets. All these nations have suddenly become much vulnerable living under constant fear of unforeseen attacks on them. World over there is a rise of right wing domination, which has a natural affinity for Nationalism .
In India if we come across the sad plight of govt property getting stolen or damaged or misused it is a direct ramification from lack of Nationalism among the citizens. Public utilities get abused, prestigious trains get ransacked by travelers resorting to steal various amenities provided for the passengers comfort, people are found spitting nonchalantly on the road and public places, people are showing utter disregard to traffic rules- all these abusive behavior has its roots in lack of sense of ownership and belongingness to the Nation. This belongingness cannot come without a strong sense of Nationalism.
With remote possibility of Imperialism or fascism rising its ugly head in the modern polities and with so much of positive attainment through Nationalism in various countries, why would it be detested by some and what grouse do they have against Nationalism. Are their apprehensions guided by genuine concern to the common public or does it have something to do with their personal agenda needs further insight.
In the Indian context before we identify the groups and dwell on reasons which make them unfavorably disposed to consolidation of strong Nationalism, we should underline some unique characteristics of Indian Nationalism.
India is a country with diverse languages, castes and tribes. The only unifying feature for majority of the population is their religious roots. Thus the impetus for Nationalism in India has strong connotations of religion of the Majority which is Hinduism. The shock and realization of impending danger which should have gripped the rest of India in the wake of Hindu exodus from Kashmir three decades ago, finally made its impression in the psyche of many Indians somewhat belatedly though with increasing instances of audacious postures adopted by Muslim communities.
Religions like Islam extracts from its followers a total allegiance to the religious decrees in preference to any state law or geographical entity. In Islamic countries Blasphemy charges carries a serious capital punishment as compared to charges of treason against the Nation. Commitment to religion supersedes loyalty to state and therefore the concept of National borders is totally irrelevant. The Indian Muslims rising up for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar underscores this point. This feature of Islam further accentuates the ground reality that Indian Nationalism had to assume a Hindu monopoly. Furthermore when leaders across the border issue statement like- “Pakistan does not have to fight a war with India anymore since the Indian Muslims will win it for them”, it only adds more credence to the belief that Hindus have to solely carry the torch of Nationalism in India. Thus in India the rise of nationalism and awakening of Hindu rights are entwined irrevocably.
In India the ultra Liberals, Media, politicians who diet on divisive politics, the red brigade and the Christian missionaries become overly agitated at the mention of Nationalism. They get petrified at the prospect of Nationalism appeal scoring over other themes that go to comprise election campaigns. One can recall how desperately they tried to under play the “Surgical strike” and the resultant India –Pakistan stand off.
The Liberals and the pompous presstitutes pandering to the media baron’s power brokering pursuit, thrive on weak regimes which can be arm twisted into serving their harboured intentions. As long as there is no common denomination of unifier, it is expected that there will be fragmentation of political forces which in turn would mean no single institution would emerge as unassailable. The liberals and the Media revel in the intoxication that comes along with the attending lobbying power at their disposal, when the politicians and the govt are on a weak footing.
It is paradoxical that Communism which relies on people’s power in revolution induced politics is so much hostile to the idea of Nationalism as vehicle for harnessing people power. Nationalism has the intrinsic characteristics of building or creating some positive entities where as revolutions have destructive bent of objective. After all communism thrives on keeping the proletariat under privileged eternally. The Nationalism will obscure this class division when they unite and the class struggle is the very essence of communism.
India must be the only country whose political arena is replete with record number of political parties vying for political power. It is logical to infer that such scenario necessarily mandates a divided community of electorates for these political parties to stand any chance of securing a political space. When the unified electorates rally around a single party, it leaves these parties with only two choices – either wind up their party and career or hook on to the party in power in the hope of being relevant. The political parties can fore see two such factors that have the potential of achieving this unity – Nationalism and Religious identity of the Majority. In Indian scenario both are entwined.
The evangelical missionaries operating in various countries having majority non Christian population require an affable and non intruding governments to further their cause. Money power has more leverage with weak regimes both as a direct influence and indirectly through media institutions. A strong Govt and that too a majority religion supported govt would turn out to be its bug bear.
There are various Hindu outfits in India viz- Hindu Mahasabha, Bajraang Dal, Viswa Hindu Parishad, Hindu Sena, etc. but then the antagonists of Nationalism single out RSS as their main adversary because the organization’s founding principle is Nationalism. The motto of RSS is “in the service of the Nation”.
Those who revile rising Nationalism in India are blissfully ignorant that in the near future, when war cry for shariah laws is heard everywhere, the posterity will be cursing them for their short sighted comprehension of Hindu Nationalism.
The German President Frank Walter Steinmeier has gone on record with is quote that “Nationalism is an ideological poison”. French President in an attempt to take a dig at Donald Trump seated close to him remarked that “Nationalism is a betrayal of Patriotism”. As long as the Islamic Jihadi terror keeps flourishing many liberal democracies over the world will be experiencing intense wave of Nationalism. The right wing parties which are closely associated with fervor of Nationalism will be on the ascendancy because the liberal leaders with their aversion to Nationalism have abjectly failed to counter the growing threat of Islamic expansionism, albeit have facilitated its growth.