Nationalism Debate Continues

Yesterday(17.03.2016), I read a centre-piece in the Times of India by Pavan K.Verma captioned “Communal polarisation & hyper-nationalism….” Mr. Verma is a former civil servant , a scholar & Parliamentarian frequently seen on TV news channel debates. He is also known for his close proximity to Shri Nitish Kumar, the Bihar Chief Minister and, considering the stand he usually takes in the debates, may well be said to be Mr. Kumar’s mouth piece.

The views expressed in the centre-piecee made me a little uncomfortable & I didn’t want them to go unchallenged.However, since I could never entertain the idea of the “Times of India” publishing a rejoinder ( news-papers enjoy the privilege of one-sided conversation), I decided to take the blog route to give vent to my counter-views and try to disseminate them to the extent possible.

An unfortunate feature of the political and social milieu in India today is that several public figure, of whom Mr. Verma is no doubt one, tend to blur the public or national interest,to suit the interest of personalities they admire. Mr. Verma’s fierce and intense advocacy of Mr. Nitish Kumar’s interests in the period leading to the general elections in 2014, Bihar elections in 2015 and continuing since then, fully reflect and diffuse the intense hatred that Mr. Kumar has for Modi (now the Prime Minister) and BJP. Mr. Verma can consequently be relied uoon to oppose any thing that may possibly help Modi or BJP.

A scholarly commentator is expected to present a balanced view of the differring ideas he chooses to discuss. Let us see whether Mr. Varma makes any such pretensions.

He writes in his centre-piece that when he addressed JNU students a few days ago, he came convinced that there is before our republic an unfinished agenda that must play out before India fully conforms to what our constitution envisages. In this context, he goes on to add when “Nathuram Godse pumped three bullets into Mahatma Gandhi , he was convinced that what he was doing was right.” This, to Mr. Verma, amounted to an as yet unresolved notion of what India will ultimately resolve to be. Now, 70 years on, can any one say that India has deviated from the path laid down by Gandhi ji?

Now, since he talks about his visit to JNU, he would no doubt concede that when the students on the fateful night of February 8, shouted the slogan “Bhaarat tere tukre hon ge” (India you will be dismembered) they must have been convinced that they were right. Is this a part of the agenda that has to play out? Mr. Varma seems to have nothing but sympathy for the students.

Again about the balance. Mr. Varma is concerned about the hardcore votaries of Hinddutava and says they have not been defeated and surface every now and then. He goes on to give examples of what some RSS leaders said prior to the partition of India (obviously no longer the current philosophies) and what some some fringe leaders of present day BJP have said recently. Like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, (Ramzades & Haraamzades), Mahesh Sharma (former President Abdul Kalam was a good man despite being a Muslim}Saksh Maharaj (Godse was martyr) being part of hyper-nationalism and wonders why these people have not been punished. But Mr. Varma chooses o completely overlook the statements of the fringe on the other side like Owaissi brothers, Ibrahim (who wanted to cut Modi into pieces),Azam Khan( with his petition to the
UN) and others, not to mention the slogans raised in JNU, as he obviously wants these to be mustered as freedom of speech & expression.

While concluding, Mr. Verma wonders aloud: “Will such extremist forces succeed?”and himself answers: “I believe not.” The reasons he gives for his belief have mostly to do with Hindus(His piece does not refer to Muslims at all as if all extremists are Hindus). True, being the overwhelming majority, Hindus have the major say and it is undoubtedly because of Hindus that India today is what it is. Fringe elements will be there on both sides. But responsible elements will hopefully prevail.

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