Nationalism is the flavour of the season

By:MK Tayal

Having lost its track, Patriotism was not being taken seriously as people

became nonchalant, ignorant or disinterested in state of affairs due to the

helplessness of the common, rampant corruption and bureaucratic


India was being run by God was the common refrain. Being patriotic was

something left to actors like Manoj Kumar and to be displayed on a few

occasions like the Independence Day.

Nationalism had lost its true fervour. People were shy to talk about being

patriotic. A part of the common psyche had given up on the health of the


But with the advent of social media and couple of incidents have changed

the narrative.


People started connecting virtually over various social media platforms.

Their voices were being heard, even if by a few.

And when the initial excitement subsided, the discourse could take a

serious turn.

From mundane banter, recycled images and cheap jokes, dialogue started

shifting to a serious note that is not shy about being nationalistic. The

transition is swift yet grounded.

Over social media and private living rooms across the country, now it is

not only acceptable but ‘cool’ to talk about the nation and the state of

affairs. Nationalism is back on track.

The true beginning of post independence 21 st  century ‘Nationalistic’ talk started

when the second United Progressive Alliance government came into power. A

series of incidents and events, triggered the national conscience.

The protagonist of the movement was none other than Prime Minister

Manmohan Singh. Had it not been for Singh and his government riddled in the

rampant corruption, it would not have become the centre boiling point of anger

across the country.

A politically lightweight Prime Minister remained a silent spectator to the event

that unfolded during his second stint. Sitting at 7 Race Course road with all the

silence he could muster at his command, he remained a mute spectator.

And from the corruption rot emerged Arvind Kejriwal who captured the

imagination of the angry populace riding on the name of Anna Hazare and

became the chief minister of Delhi. However, he inadvertently exposed himself

and came across as opportunistic, manipulative and even anti-nationalistic in

nature. Kejriwal, of course, today has become the butt of humour and resentment

but that is another story altogether.


But unable to sense of the anger of the people, UPA government with Sonia

Gandhi and son Rahul as the defacto heads came crumbling down as RSS prachark

Narender Modi challenged them head on from the Muslim-named city of

Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The Congress exit was inevitable.

Thankfully, the people did not miss the plot and rallied behind Modi in a manner

that Kejriwal was secretly hoping would have been his spot.

Modi has since been playing his cards right, treading cautiously and doing the

right things even if they do not proportionately match the expectations of the


With Modi’s rise and nothing against him for a year, the disgruntlement of the

Congress was palpable. They had to do something. The party leadership instigated

the leftist intelligentsia to throw up ‘ambiguous tantrums’ in the name of

intolerance after an incident which otherwise could have been an isolated


Akhlah, a 50-year old muslim, was killed by an angry mob for eating beef in his

home in Bishra village in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh in September 28, 2015.

The lynching sparked nation-wide protests of intolerance resulting in the ‘Award

wapsi’ program.

Award Wapsi!

It was perhaps the first ingenious major creation of the Congress and its allies and

non-government organisations whose foreign funding had been stopped by the

Modi Government. They rallied behind each other and commenced a series

attacks by the intellectuals, writers, film stars, academicians. They started

returning their ‘awards’ that were bestowed to them by the Congress

government. This breed of pseudo intellectuals started to attack the government

over its ‘intolerance’ stand.

Everyone in the country was stunned by the root cause of intolerance and reason

why these intellectuals were returning their awards.

This led to nationalism debate entering the common man’s living space. What is

the Hinduism, why muslims have many children and who is funding these

intellectuals, is Modi responsible for the lynching and how… The questions were

being debated. People were taking stands in common drawing room debates. You

could either be with them or against them, but you could not ignore them. It

suited the Hindutava regime and got the Sangh the national support it had been

yearning, while completely discrediting the so-called ‘motivated intellectuals’.

Conspiracy theory

Dr Gaurav Pradhan, who claims to be neither a neta nor trader but a technologist

and a news analyst, went a step further and saw it as a conspiracy to weaken the

nation. In a series of tweets, he claimed that the entire program was funded by

the USA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

An international public relation firm was hired to project intolerance in the

country after a few Congress leaders met with few JNU professors and writers

with select journalists in tow and use the Akhlaq incident as fool proof incident.

The meeting reportedly took place in JNU and later at India International Centre

in New Delhi.

Initially these writers were reluctant to fall in line due to negative reaction but

were weighed down by the favours the Congress had bestowed on them, he


The CIA plot

Funds from organisations like Ford Foundation, who are reportedly backed by the

Central Intelligence Agency of the USA, were used, he alleged. “Globally 150

writers & journalists were hired to write article on ‘Award wapsi’ and to build

image of India as "intolerant" nation under Modi” and “to promote & divert in

benifit of Pak-US- Saudi, Ford & GreenP hired an international PR firm and millions

are invested as fee & benefits.”

He accused that the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia “designed

Chakraviyu of "Human Rights" 2 project INDIA as a country INTOLERANT to other

religions, a Hindu terror promoter under MODI.”

Shelley Kasli writing in the Beyond Headlines website, says, “The CIA uses

philanthropic foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large sums of

money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients to their source. From

the early 1950s to the present the CIA’s intrusion into the foundation field was

and is huge. A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50

percent of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the

principal foundations were funded by the CIA. The CIA considers foundations such

as Ford “The best and most plausible kind of funding cover”. The collaboration of

respectable and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA operative,

allowed the Agency to fund “a seemingly limitless range of covert action

programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses

and other private institutions”. The latter included “human rights” groups

beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important “private

foundations” collaborating with the CIA over a significant span of time in major

projects in the cultural Cold War is the Ford Foundation.”

Ironically, the anti-India movement had its diametric impact. Not only were the

intellectuals were discredited it systematically built a nationalistic opinion which

was more grounded and realistic.

Earlier patriotism was sneered in high class living rooms, but thankfully, after the

Award Wapsi program, it was openly deliberated. At tea stalls across India, where

everything under the sun is possibly discussed with all candour, those espousing

the cause of ‘award wapsi’ were left defenceless.

All shades are one

Then came along a second incident of JNU president Kanhaiya Kumar. On

February 9, 2016, a group of students under Kumar shouted anti-India slogans,

the videos of which went viral in the country.

It left people angry. Period. How could this happen in the capital? What was the

Government doing? Apparently, the Government was helping them it seems.

Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi brazenly supported Kumar,

isolating them both and stripping them of admiration they had developed.

Kejriwal’s support to Kanhaiya dragged him in the anti-India bracket.

Even here some were arguing about the Modism and his curb on freedom and


Former Delhi High Court judge, A P Shah, defended the likes of Kanhaiya for the

sake of freedom of speech and expression. “Our right to free speech and

expression is not a gift or a privilege that the government bestows on us; it is our


But Shah’s wisdom perhaps misses the point of sedition. Freedom of speech and

sedition are separate and by clubbing them together he presented an unsavoury


Freedom of speech and scholarly discourse cannot and will never include slogans

of “Bharat tere…”

Nationalism had become the normal talk and much discussed on social media and

in television studios.

Terrorism unites the Nation

People in Bharat can tolerate a lot but any attack on the soldier is taken extremely

seriously. The country is emotional about its men in uniform. This time they bore

the brunt of the direct Pakistani terror attack in Pathankot and Uri in Kashmir.

These two incidents ignited passionate anger.

On Jan 2, 2016, a heavily armed terrorist group which attacked the Pathankot Air

Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force, was killed

after an operation that lasted more than 17 hours.

After eight and half months, on September 18, Jaish-e- Mohammed terrorists

carried out a daring attack on an army base in Uri in Kashmir. It was reported as

"the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades".

Kashmir did the rest

Last year, palpable unrest had been brewing in Kashmir and the youth there were

regularly involved in unsavoury stone throwing incidents on the security forces.

On a daily basis Kashmiri youth were pelting stones at the security forces. The

men in uniform were left to defend themselves with human right activists and

mobile phone reporters lurking around every nook and corner in the valley.

Nearly 85, anti-national Kashmiris were killed in various incidents.

This led to strong sentiments across the land. For the people in the rest of the

country, Kashmir boys and girls who were hurling stones were “traitors” who

were acting on behalf of the Hurriyat and Pakistan terror groups.

Abhinay Sandwar, a student of Studied at Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of

Technology, expressing his resentment called them “traitors” who were getting

paid to throw stones.

“These traitors are revolting against their saviors. There is a clear-cut proof of the

same recorded in camera numerous times. The perpetrators are exposed and it

doesn't matter if they are paid for that or they did it advertently. Does it really

matter if people are paid money for pelting stones? Is it really worth to know

whether hurriyat or any other organisation is funding them?” says Sandwar.

These were the same Kashmiris, the Army was saving from the floods that had hit

the valley. The internet was inundated with sarcasm against the stone pelters.

Crossing the boundary

However, sensing the mood of the people, the Modi Government did the

unthinkable. It gave permission to the army to cross the border and take stern

action. The hot pursuit in Myanmar and subsequent army retaliation in Pakistan

pacified the pent up anger of the people.

In 2015, two platoons of commandos finished an operation in 40 minutes inside

Myanmar, leaving 38 Naga insurgents dead and seven injured. The commandos

from 21 Special Forces, wasted little time after Modi gave his consent to strike at

Naga camps operating inside Myanmar, according to sources privy to the details.

Days before the strike on June 10, Naga militants had killed 18 soldiers in an

ambush in Chandel area of Manipur. For the first time, the Indian Army had

operated in Myanmar against the Naga terrorists.

However, the morale of the people really soured high after the troops from and

Bihar and Dogra regiments supporting para commandos crossed line of control

and operated and killed inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir on September 29, a

year later.

Pakistan denied the surgical strike but President Nawaz Sharif condemned the

"unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces”, short of admitting the strike.

However, a news channel claimed that Ghulam Akbar, Superintendent of Police

(Special Branch) of the Mirpur Range in PoK disclosed that the Pakistan Army was

caught unawares by the Indian attack and that at least five Pakistani soldiers and

an unspecified number of militants were killed in the strikes. A reporter posing as

IG of Pakistani police had talked to the Akbar over the issue.

Samana in Bhimber, Hazira in Poonch, Dudhniyal in Neelam and Kayani in Hathian

Bala in Pakistan were the areas which came under attack, according to Akbar. This

left the Pakistani establishment including its Army and President embarrassed.

But the Indian public were thrilled. It needed no confirmation. The unthinkable

had been done, punishing Pakistan for its nefarious designs.

Currency Gul

The third surgical strike came from commando Modi himself. The nationalistic

fervour that had been building suffered by the currency ban, according to some

anti-BJP supporters.

The 500 and 1,000 rupee note currency ban left millions of people standing in

queues for long hours to change their notes.

Many were saying it was a grave error by Modi. Targeted at eliminating terror

funding and black money, the currency ban brought several hardships to the


Though poorly implemented, the currency ban proved otherwise. If Uttar Pradesh

and Punjab elections and subsequently Delhi MCD elections are any indicator, the

currency ban did positively impact the people, and resentment, if any, was only

for the NDTV type journalism.

People went out of the way to vote for the BJP. Nationalism discussions brought

unimaginable gains for the party.

The national narrative is being shifted to equate nationalism as support to the

BJP. And rightfully so. Discussions on terror, religion and beef, freedom of speech,

the party used for its advantage.

But many like Shah feel that the whole nationalism discussion is scripted by the

Sangh lobby. ‘Why Are We Being Told What to Say, What to Eat, When to Stand’:

Shah commented on ‘false nationalism’ recently. He misses the point, completely.

Akhlay and Kanhaiya were not scripted events by the BJP. The tone and tenor of

the arguments may seem to fit the Saffron scheme of things, but how were they

instrumental in getting Rahul Gandhi to visit JNU to support Kanhaiya.

However, such incidents were not apparently scripted. The BJP just got the


But it is not always going to remain so. The BJP has not worked on its real hardline

script so far but will have in the near course of time.

The demands and hopes of people will go up in time when the Sangh start

working on their known agenda.

Touching the Hardline

So far, the BJP has not touched highly controversial core issues of Kashmir – article

370, reservation and uniform civil code.

On the issue of reservation, the BJP and its ideologue organisation, RSS, have

publicly backed down.

On Kashmir, they have allied with a Party that was seen patronising the Muslim-

Kashmiri fundamentalists. It is unlikely they will touch it in the near future.

The only issue the BJP is keen to play upon is the Uniform Civil Code. By stirring

the hornets’ nest, it got some marginal quantified support of educated or

moderate Muslim women (a rare breed that still adorn the burqa when walking

the allays of Kairana (mini-Pakistan) or Moradabad), and Hindus. The triple Talaq,

– Talaq, Talaq, Talaq –divorcing ones consort by uttering just three words is just

too convenient for Muslim men. The situation is potentially dangerous for the

women who are forced to remain on the edge in this modern age of equality and

gender sensitivity.

Here is the party that will take issues to logical conclusion! But was it just election

repartee or does it have a serious intention to transform words into action, is yet

to be seen.

But the national narrative is bound to see dramatic turn if ever Ram Mandir

construction would begin.

With Yogi Adityanath occupying centre-stage in Lucknow, Ram Mandir hopes are

being revised. Of course there is no direct talk of Ram Mandir even by Yogi but

expectations of the Hindutava hardliner have magnified manifold. With Modi not

inclined to act for his politically correct existence, hopes are pinning on Yogi to

revisit the aspirations of the Hindu masses for the much awaited ‘magic’ action.

Nevertheless, in the present scheme of things it appears a far-fetched dream.

But what happen if the BJP pushes for Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

Hindu vs Muslim Nationalism

Will the nationalism of Muslims clash with that of the majority.

“Indian nationalism is an instance of territorial nationalism, inclusive of all her

people, despite their diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.”

Are Muslims opposed to respecting the National Anthem.  Certainly not.

Fundamentalists may not approve of Vande Matram but their approval is not

even required for greater nationalism.  However, they have little against Jana

Gana Mana.

When the Supreme Court imposed the mandatory respect for national anthem

and ordered it play in the theatres, few like Justice Shah questioned the move.

“The Supreme Court’s national anthem order requiring all movie-goers to “stand

up in respect” for the national anthem before the start of a movie in order to

“instil a feeling within one a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”.

“The order of the court, which seems a little short on reasoning to help

understand how such an interim order was passed befuddles and seems contrary

to the spirit of the constitution and past precedent, says Shah, former judge of

the Delhi High court.

He feels that people are being forced to take stands. There is a lot of palpable

anger against national anthem in cinema houses.

One Nation, One chant

Though Nationalism and culture are intermixed but yet remain bifurcated in

modern times. Celebration of Valentine’s Day though not part of Hinduism is

much accepted in the country though Hindutava parties like the Shiv Sena are

vehemently opposed to the ‘brazen intrusion of western culture’.

But current nationalism is far above this narrow outlook of celebration.

World against Muslims

While world over, nationalism is entirely anti-Muslim – from the US to Europe and

Australia, will the liberal India nationalism clash with hard realities of Muslims.

This is the question we have to ponder.

Nevertheless, nationalism continues to strongly influence the politics of India and

reflects an opposition to the sectarian strands of ‘Hindu nationalism and Muslim

nationalism, which do not exist.’ Nationalism has to be above caste and religion.

There cannot be separate nationalism for Muslims and Hindus. For now,

nationalism is Bharat is not based on religion. Only time will tell its colour.

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