Hero of Alexandria (which is in Africa) is credited with inventing the steam engine. Benjamin Franklin's famous experiment proving lightning to be electricity was conducted in America. There have been numerous ancient thinkers who proposed theories of evolution. What about nationalism? Was it 'invented' in modern Europe? How is it Jordanes speaks of 'nations' 1500 years ago? What about the Old Testament? It certainly has a concept of Nationalism. Does Guha think it was written in modern Europe?
The European model of nationalism sought to unite residents of a particular geographical territory on the basis of a single language, a shared religion, and a common enemy.
There is not a single modern European nation which stipulates that residents of a particular geographical territory have to have the same language or religion. The Swiss are a nation. They have different languages and religions and no enemy because they are traditionally neutral.
Only at a time of war can there be a common enemy. If war has not been declared it is a crime for any citizen to commence hostilities against any internal or external 'enemy'. The law presumes friendship and amity save where an explicit declaration of War has been made.
So to be British, you had to speak English, and minority tongues such as Welsh and Gaelic were either suppressed or disregarded.
Sheer nonsense! There are plenty of people living in England today- many of Indian origin- who are British citizens and who can't speak any European language at all. Welsh has not been suppressed. It receives official support as does Gaelic.
To be properly British you had to be Protestant, which is why the king was also the head of the Church, and Catholics were distinctly second-class citizens.
How is this man a Professor at the LSE? To be properly British you had to be British by birth or by an oath of allegiance to the Crown in Parliament as recognised by Law. It so happened that a King who wanted to get remarried broke with the Catholic Church with consequences favourable to certain schools of Protestantism but it was never the case that Protestantism defined Britishness and thus was required of the King. Consider the case of James II. He was openly Catholic. Yet the Church of England itself required obedience to him. It was only after he broke his own allegiance to the Crown in Parliament by waging war upon his own people that he was stripped of his crown. The Act of Succession which was then put in place sought to leave the door open for the Young Pretender to return to the Anglican fold. However, this had nothing to do with Nationalism and everything to do with upholding the law.
Jews and Catholics and Dissenters flourished in England provided they were loyal to the Crown in Parliament and upheld the laws. They suffered certain minor disabilities but were far from being second-class citizens.
Finally, to be authentically and loyally British, you had to hate France.
Sheer poppycock! It was when rivalry with France was most intense that the English were most infatuated with its culture. The moment hostilities ceased, they would rush over to soak up French culture. Charles James Fox was notoriously pro-French. This did not stop him from being a formidable Parliamentary antagonist to Pitt.
Now, if we go across the Channel and look at the history of the consolidation of the French nation in the 18th and 19th centuries, we see the same process at work, albeit in reverse.
This is quite mad. If the same process is at work at the same time in two different places it must have exactly the same effect.
Citizens had to speak the same language, in this case French, so the dialects spoken in regions like Normandy and Brittany were sledgehammered into a single standardised tongue.
Quite false. There was no sledgehammer- just a specific administrative and educational policy championed by a radical priest. French dialects have not disappeared- though, because of radio and T.V, they have been eroded in the same way that regional English or Indian or Brazilian dialects have been eroded.
The test of nationhood was allegiance to one language, French, and also to one religion, Catholicism.
Utterly mad! Catholicism was a universal religion. It used the word 'nation' to distinguish linguistic groups- for example at Universities. However, monarchs and successor states to monarchies did not relinquish territory on the grounds that they were occupied by people of other nations.
Consider Alsace. Germany claimed it because it was German speaking. But the people retained their loyalty to France and were happy when France won it back.
So Protestants were persecuted.
How ignorant is this man? It was the Crown, not the Nation which persecuted Protestants but only when they represented a military threat or by the whim of an absolute monarch. This was purely a matter of elite politics.
Likewise, French nationalism was consolidated by identifying a major enemy; although who this enemy was varied from time to time.
French nationalism was consolidated by the slogan 'Liberté, égalité, fraternité' that is, the promise of a freer, more equal and fraternal society in which everybody might flourish no matter what their class origin or geographical provenance. That is why the French Revolution is considered an inspiration. France is considered a country of culture because it is not fuelled by hate of any internal or external enemy. Perhaps Guha is thinking of ISIS which was in fact consolidated by hatred for a 'common enemy' and which required its people to have the same fanatical type of Salafi Religion and to give pride of place to the Arabic language.
In some decades the principal adversary was Britain; in other decades, Germany. In either case, the hatred of another nation was vital to affirming faith in one’s own nation.
Jean Paul Satre fought in the Resistance against the Nazis. Yet he was a great admirer of Heidegger. He was typical of his class. Was this an aberration? No. The French were happy to absorb ideas from countries they were at war with.
This model—of a single language, a shared religion, and a common enemy—is the model by which nations were created throughout Europe.
There is not one single nation which was created on this triple basis in the whole of Europe. Every nation, except those recently defeated and shorn of territory, includes linguistic and religious minorities. No European country is defined by a 'common enemy'. It may be part of a system of alliances- but that is a different matter.
And it so happens that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is in this respect a perfect European nation.
Nonsense! Pakistan followed the principle enshrined in the Treaty of Lausanne
which featured Greek speaking Muslims going to Turkey and Turkish speaking Christians going to Greece. But Turkey is not exactly a 'perfect European nation'. The other time Religion has trumped Language and Culture was during the break up of Yugoslavia. But Alia Izbegovich was influenced by the Pakistani example and received a lot of backing from certain types of Muslim countries. It may surprise Guha to learn that things were not always so. Originally, the assassin of Archduke Ferdinand was supposed to be a Bosnian Muslim not an Orthodox Serb. At that time, linguistic nationalism trumped religion.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah insisted that Muslims could not live with Hindus, so they needed their own homeland.
Jinnah did not say that. He said the Hindus would devour the Muslims. Pakistan would exercise a countervailing power over Hindu India through the 'hostage theory'- i.e. Hindus would not ethnically cleanse Muslims for fear Pakistan would do the same.
After his nation was created, Jinnah visited its eastern wing and told its Bengali residents they must learn to speak Urdu, which to him was the language of Pakistan.
In the age of the Google, it takes just 30 seconds to verify that Jinnah said East Pakistan could have Bengali as the Provincial language. The State language would be Urdu. He never said Bengalis had to learn Urdu.
And, of course, hatred of India has been intrinsic to the idea of Pakistan since its inception.
The idea of Pakistan is Islamic. Guha may think Islam is a religion of hate. I disagree. Pakistanis don't hate India. They readily admit that for tactical reasons they may play up some supposed Indian threat or evildoing. But, the truth is, Pakistan is about getting rich off the State in some corrupt way. So is India.
Indian nationalism, however, radically departed from the European template.
There was no 'European template'. Prior to 1914, much of Europe consisted of multi-national Empires. The type of Nation Guha is talking about simply did not exist in Europe. There may have been some savage and xenophobic tribe in some wilderness which fits his template. But it has left no imprint in the annals of history.
The greatness of the leaders of our freedom struggle—and Mahatma Gandhi in particular—was that they refused to identify nationalism with a single religion.
But that identification occurred all the same. You might as well say 'the greatness of the Young Turks was that they refused to identify Turkish nationalism with Islam'. As a matter of fact, some Jews were prominent in their ranks. Yet the Young Turks polarised Ottoman society on linguistic and confessional lines as never before.
They further refused to identify nationalism with a particular language and even more remarkably, they refused to hate their rulers, the British.
Actually, Gandhi did identify the National cause with learning Hindi which is why my grand parents learnt that language. However, this strategy backfired on the Congress in Tamil Nadu where Guha and I are from.
As for hating the Brits- how could we? Annie Beasant and Nellie Sengupta were British and yet both were elected President of the I.N.C at different times. A.O Hume, William Wedderburn, Joseph Cotton- there were many Britishers on our side. Viceroys like Irwin and emissaries like Cripps had great respect for and got on very well with Gandhi and other leaders.
Gandhi lived and died for Hindu-Muslim harmony.
No. He lived and died in the belief that he had some great spiritual power which was enhanced by sleeping naked with young women. Had he cared about any sort of harmony, as a lawyer he would have campaigned for an overhaul of the judicial system such that the sort of anti-social elements who thrive on civil strife were properly dealt with. Unfortunately, this would have meant locking up a lot of his own hypocritical followers.
He emphasised the fact that his party, the Indian National Congress, had presidents who were Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Parsi.
Yes, yes. But some of those Hindu presidents were also high up in the Hindu Mahasabha. Consider what was happening in Bihar during his sojourn in Champaran. There was a violent campaign against Muslims which caused them to give up cow slaughter. Gandhi chose to remain blissfully unaware of any such development.
Nor was Gandhi’s nationalism defined by language.
In 1918, Gandhi identified Hindi as the national language which must be spread by 'Hindi ambassadors' more especially to the South. He never resiled from this position.
As early as the 1920s, Gandhi pledged that when India became independent, every major linguistic group would have its own province.
But Hindi and Hindi alone would be the national language. In any case, it was the Brits who had turned vernacular languages into administrative languages. Thus, ironically, Hindi would never have developed sufficiently to have a claim to be an official language of any State, let alone the Nation, but for the British practice in this regard.
And perhaps the most radical aspect of the Indian model of nationalism was that you did not even have to hate the British.
Why is that the most radical aspect? Surely, the determination to achieve independence through purely non-violent means was what was truly radical about Gandhi and the INC?
Indian patriots detested British imperialism, they wanted the Raj out, they wanted to reclaim this country for its residents.
Actually, this was not always the case. Many Indian patriots continued to believe that White rule was beneficial but also accepted Macaulay's argument (given in his essay on Milton) that even if the Raj was sugar and honey still its continuance would tend to the degeneration and moral enfeeblement of the people. As a matter of fact, as Naroaji pointed out, British Rule was 'shakkar ki churi'- a knife of sugar- because the exploitation of the productive class was increasing without legal check while the administration waxed lethargic.
Sooner or later, the British would leave- either because their naval hegemony was challenged or because the Raj ceased to yield an operating profit. Indians realized that they would have to run their own affairs or risk falling prey to either war-lordism or an external predator.
But they could do so non-violently, and they could do so while befriending individual Britons. Actually, the Britons came to the Indians and befriended them- like Andrews coming to Gandhi (Gandhi’s closest friend was the English priest C.F. Andrews).
Andrews befriended Gandhi not the other way round.
Further, they could get the British to ‘Quit India’ while retaining the best of British institutions. An impartial judiciary, parliamentary democracy, the English language, and not least the game of cricket; these are all aspects of British culture that we kept after they had left.
What was the best British institution? It was the Royal Navy ably seconded by the Merchant Marine. Without the Navy, forget about a British Empire, England itself would have been a province of some continental tyranny.
The Indians needed to learn to become a proper maritime power from the Brits. They refused to do any such thing preferring to sip tea and play cricket and talk worthless shite in stilted accents.
The second best British institution was its Financial markets and institutions which mobilised savings and directed them to their most productive uses. India could very easily have expanded the role of financial markets and reaped the sort of benefits that Japan did. But India chose to go in the opposite direction. Why? The Gandhian begging bowl was more compatible with incessant moralising than commercial flourishing.
British, French and Pakistani nationalism were based on paranoia, on the belief that all citizens must speak the same language, adhere to the same faith, and hate the same enemy.
Guha studied in England at a time when he could see with himself that many older Asians with British passports could not speak English and were of alien faiths. Some Asians settled here loved Soviet Russia or Maoist China. They were not deported.
It is only recently- because of Islamic terrorism- that knowing English or Welsh has become a requirement for citizenship. But, nobody is required to convert.
I don't know how Guha has got the idea that Britain and France require citizens to hate some specific enemy. I do know that any such requirement would be wholly illegal under British law.
On the other hand, Indian nationalism was based on a common set of values.
Sheer nonsense! No two Indians have 'a common set of values'. The thing is impossible. Indian nationalism featured 'overlapping consensus' regarding certain limited goals- that is all.
During the non-cooperation movement of 1920-21, people all across India came out into the streets, gave up jobs and titles, left their colleges, courted arrest.
So what? People also came out for Khilafat.
For the first time, the people of India had the sense, the expectation, the confidence that they could create their own nation.
India should have got the same deal as Egypt and Ireland. The reason it did not was because some Indian leaders- like Gandhi- didn't think India was ready to 'create its own nation'. He said to Hazrat Mohani that Hindus and Muslims were not united and so 'Swaraj' could not be attained.
In 1921, when non-cooperation was at its height, Gandhi defined Swaraj as a bed with four sturdy bed-posts. The four posts that held up Swaraj were non-violence, Hindu-Muslim harmony, the abolition of untouchability and economic self-reliance. Three decades later, after India was finally free, these values were enshrined in our Constitution.
Gandhi was wholly wrong. It was a World War which destroyed the power of Western Europe and put an end to Imperialism. There was no Hindu Muslim harmony at all. Instead there was ethnic cleaning or marginalisation. Economic self-reliance is hilarious. India practiced begging bowl diplomacy. The reference to Untouchability, however, isn't funny but then Guha is very high caste and likes rubbing in that sort of thing. The truth is the Constitution provided for reserved seats not separate electorates. This meant it was the higher caste Hindu who decided which Dalit politician got to represent his people. As a matter of fact, Dalit politicians were very able and thus, rather than 'Uncle Toms', we got some excellent people whose achievements caused bigoted people to change their minds.
Gandhi called off the No-Cooperation agitation because he thought that Hindus and Muslims would never unite save by some spiritual miracle. Further he did not believe Indians had the spiritual strength to conduct a non-violent campaign. Untouchability was not yet a big concern for him. As for 'economic self-reliance'- the fact is, his Ashrams were money-pits. Swadeshi required huge subsidies. Gandhian Indian was the India of the bottomless begging bowl. The Constitution was being formulated at the same time that Truman snubbed Nehru's demand for food aid. The Americans could not understand how a rich agricultural country which had been untouched by the war could possibly have a food availability deficit. Later, the farmer's lobby in America secured PL480 shipments for the subcontinent to keep it from toppling over into mass starvation. So much for 'economic self-reliance'.
When the Republic of India was created, its citizens were sought to be united on a set of values: democracy, religious and linguistic pluralism, caste and gender equality and the removal of poverty and discrimination.
Really? If this is true why did Ambedkar dismiss his contribution to the Constitution as 'hack work'?
In what manner did Article 291 of the Constitution, which guaranteed privy purses to Princes, remove 'poverty and discrimination'? Article 343 makes Hindi the official language. How is this 'linguistic pluralism'?
Guha says 'non-violence' was one of the 'bed-posts' which was enshrined in the Constitution. Where? There is zero mention of Ahimsa in the Constitution. There is a reference to protecting the cow in the Directive Principles, but there was no similar commitment- such as that made by Japan- to desist from wars of aggression or to rename the Army the Defence force or any such thing. Caste distinctions were not abolished by the Constitution. Gender distinctions were. That is why Guha is a hermaphrodite.
They were not sought to be united on the basis of a single religion, a shared faith, or a common enemy.
There is no Constitution in the world which mentions 'a common enemy'. Where did Guha get this crazy idea?
No European or American Constitution mentions religion. After all, in a war, chances are they would be fighting people of the same faith.
Now this is the founding model of Indian nationalism, which I shall call ‘constitutional patriotism’, because it is enshrined in our Constitution. Let me identify its fundamental features.
Quite mad! Is paying privy purses to Princes part of 'constitutional patriotism'? Should I take up arms to ensure that some Maharaja gets tax free money from the State?
Guha has been repeating some version of this speech for some time now. He genuinely believes there is something called 'constitutional patriotism'. Guha is completely and utterly wrong. No Constitution is the 'elaboration' of a country's model of nationalism. That's why they all look so much alike. What a Constitution does is say how laws can be passed, when Courts can strike down those laws, how the Constitution can be amended and so on.
We can change the Constitution and have done so frequently. Patriotism, however, is not so mutable.
Either you love and support your country or you don't. I may prefer to live under the American or French Constitution rather than under the laws of India. However, if I retain Indian nationality, then I can't be a patriotic American or Frenchman. I may still be a patriotic Indian though living abroad because my purpose may be to remit money to my countrymen for various socially worthwhile purposes.
Patriotism is not extinguished when the Constitution changes. Suppose India chooses a Marxist Constitution. Many Indians who don't like the Constitution would still be patriots. However, it is not the case that anyone can have an unconditional love and desire to serve a Constitution which, quite legally, can be changed to anything at all. Suppose Mrs Gandhi had not lifted the Emergency and further amended the Constitution appointing herself President for life. Many Indians would have continued to be patriots- soldiers, for example, may have continued to discharge their patriotic duty on the battlefield- even though they didn't like the new Constitution.
The first feature of constitutional patriotism is the acknowledgement and appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity.
There is no constitutional requirement for any Indian citizen to 'acknowledge and appreciate' anything at all. There is a requirement to obey the law and render allegiance to the State. However, there is a Directive Principles which could be construed as requiring Indian citizens, at least in some states, to acknowledge the cow's right not to be butchered and eaten no matter how much we appreciate the taste of its flesh.
In another speech delivered elsewhere Guha elaborated on this theme-
The first feature is the acknowledgement and appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity.
Can diversity be inherited? Yes, but only in terms of gender. No, in terms of race. White people can't make a black baby.
Can diversity be 'shared'? Can I share my Indianess with my English neighbour? I suppose I could teach her to recite the Gayatri Mantra. But teaching isn't sharing. I can share food with her, provided it isn't too spicy. But I can't share the pleasure I get from eating an idli. To her it is just some mushy substance. To me, it is sitting in my granny's lap being fed by her delicate fingertips.
One can acknowledge and appreciate the essential univocity between my love of idli and my neighbour's love for Yorkshire pud. Vicariously, I get some pleasure when she describes her grandmother's table. Similarly, she may smile and be forgiving to my moans of delight when devouring idli.
However, what we are acknowledging is not diversity but univocity. We are all actually descended from the same ancestral Eve and another ancestral Adam who lived much later.
I’m going to give you a quote from a person in Tagore’s league, the great Kannada polymath Kota Shivaram, whose bust I have on my table.
Karanth wrote the same kind of shite as Tagore because he was influenced by Tagore. Where's the fucking diversity here? Guha is often quoted as titling Karanth the Rabindranath Tagore of Modern India. This is because Rabindranath Tagore was the Pundit VV Iyengar of Modern India. VV Iyengar couldn't be the VV Iyengar of Modern India because he was the Rahul Sankirtayan of Modern India. Rahul Sankirtayan was the K.S Karanth of Modern India which is why Karanth had to settle on being the Rabindranath Tagore of Modern India though what he really wanted to be was the Ghanshyamdas Birla of Modern India.
He wrote, when asked about whether we were an Aryan nation: ‘It is impossible to talk of Indian culture as if it is a monolithic object.
Indians don't find it impossible to talk of anything of at all as a monolithic object even if they don't know what 'monolithic' means. Anyway, being 'an Aryan nation' was not a good idea after Hitler blew his brains out.
'Those who speak of Aryan culture do not realise what transformations this Aryan culture has undergone after reaching India.
Oho! So India is a miscegenated Aryan nation which has degenerated into 'cultures' because of intermarriage or intermingling with darkies.
Indian culture today is so varied as to be called cultures. The roots date back to ancient times and have developed through contact with many races and many peoples. Hence, among its many ingredients, it’s impossible to say surely what is native and what is alien, what is borrowed out of love and what has been imposed by force. If we view Indian culture, thus, we realize there is no place for chauvinism.’
The children born in a brothel may make a similar claim. However, they would be wiser to keep their mouths shut and pretend that they know their ancestry. Why? By pretending to be 'respectable' they are more likely to become so rather than be forced into some repugnant trade.
Guha says- No type of Indian is superior or special by language or fate- but he says it in English and then this is translated into Kannada for him. It is very good of Guha to admit that it is not the Constitution which makes English superior to Kannada and thus the fate of English speakers preferable to that of Kannada speakers.
What he says next is not so benign-
Indianness is defined by the allegiance to the values of the Constitution.
So, if the BJP amends the Constitution in the manner Mrs.Gandhi did, and redefines India as a Hindu Nation under the leadership of an Iranian style 'Supreme Guide', then Indianess would be defined by allegiance to the values of this amended Constitution.
It is true that during Indira Gandhi's experiment with totalitarianism, the Constitution was amended to list 'fundamental duties'. But that amendment was abrogated. Indianness, as Hindutva, does define itself as allegiance to the country, but the constitution is not the country. The Constitution itself does not require anyone to swear allegiance to it or otherwise promise not to avail of its provisions in order to amend, suspend, or wholly abrogate it.
What is wrong with Guha? Does he not get that it is the BJP, not elitists like himself, who have the power to change the Constitution? By committing himself to 'Constitutional patriotism', Guha is saying 'the moment the BJP changes the Constitution, I will change my tune because my patriotism requires it.'
In any major gathering in a major city—say in a music concert or in a cricket match—people who compose the ‘crowd’ carry different names, wear different clothes, eat different kinds of food, worship different gods (or no god at all), speak different languages, and fall in love with different kinds of people.
Guha clearly believes that a minor gathering in a minor town will consist of people who all have the same name and who are wearing the same pair of underpants. Naturally, this will constrict their genitals in a painful manner so they won't be able to eat different kinds of food or worship different gods. Just, they will be screaming- not speaking different languages or falling in love with different kinds of people.
They are a microcosm not just of what India is, but of what its founders wished it to be.
It is good to know that the founders did not want all Indians to have the same name or to try to fit into the same pair of under-pants.
For, the founders of the Republic had the ability (and desire) to endorse and emphasise our diversity.
The ability to endorse something arises simply out of possession of the language faculty. Guha is saying that the founders of the Republic, however challenged in other respects, did possess some minimal linguistic faculty.
Why does Guha think this so important? Do his British colleagues deny that Indian politicians of the period lacked the ability and desire to speak in a human language? Perhaps that is precisely what happens in the faculty lounge at the LSE. I can just see Mary Kaldor nudging Guha in the ribs and making gargling sounds. 'That's your Ambedkar!' the drunken minx says- 'He didn't know how to speak. So he just made gargling sounds.'
As Rabindranath Tagore once said about our country: “No one knows at whose call so many streams of men flowed in restless tides from places unknown and were lost in one sea: here Aryan and non-Aryan, Dravidian, Chinese, the bands of Saka and the Hunas and Pathan and Mogul, have become combined in one body”.
Oookay. So it was Tagore who put the idea into Guha's head that Aryans and Dravidians and Chinese all have to somehow squeeze into just the one pair of underpants in India. No wonder the country was fucked.
A second quote underlining the extraordinary richness of the mosaic that is India comes from the Kannada Tagore, Kota Shivaram Karanth.
Tagore's quote does not impute any 'extraordinary richness' to India. It just says that it is has a miscegenated population. That really isn't a big deal.
Karanth had heard demagogues speak of something called ‘Aryan culture’.
Arya is an Indian word associated with eusebia and noble conduct. There is nothing demagogic about it. It has no racialist connotation.
Did they realise, he asked, “what transformations this ‘Aryan culture’ has undergone after reaching India?”.
So, Karanth- a fair skinned man- subscribed to a racialist theory whereby he was descended from culturally superior invaders.
In Karanth’s opinion, “Indian culture today is so varied as to be called ‘cultures’.
So Karanth thought that there was a limit to the amount of variation possible within a culture. Was it a sensible view? After all, India is well defined legally and geographically. The Government spends some money on 'Culture'. Is it really the case that 'cultured' productions can't be distinguished from 'uncultured' productions according to some intersubjective metric? No. Not at all. I may not be able to distinguish Yakshagana from Twerking but once I understand that it takes years of practice and dedication to become an exponent of the former, whereas it just takes a little too much indulgence in alcohol to result in an exhibition of the latter, I have no difficulty in accepting the need for State support for Karanth's own art form.
As a matter of fact Yakshagana and Manipuri and Bharatnatyam and Kathak can and should be viewed in a univocal manner. There is a Classical Dance Culture of India which has been continually informed by at least one continuous Aesthetic tradition traceable back to the earliest times. Thus Indian Classical Dance is a Kripke rigid designator as well as a useful heuristic tool.
” The roots of this culture go back to ancient times: and it has developed through contact with many races and peoples. Hence, among its many ingredients, it is impossible to say surely what is native and what is alien, what is borrowed out of love and what has been imposed by force. If “we view Indian culture thus”, said Karanth, “we realise that there is no place for chauvinism”.
Does Karanth think that there is a place for chaunvinism in countries where nothing has been imposed by force? Why? Chauvinism is stupid. It has no place anywhere. Why does Guha think otherwise?
Now, an appreciation of this diversity means that we understand that no type of Indian is superior or special because they belong to a particular religious tradition or because they speak a certain language.
I appreciate diversity. I actually prefer Twerking to Yakshagana. However, I concede to the people of Karnataka the right to collectively put a higher value on Yakshagana than Twerking. Indeed, they may wish to ban the latter as obscene and I can see the sense in that. A young girl who twerks may invite unwanted advances of an amorous nature. A Yakshagana artiste, by contrast, will cause young men to remember their grandmothers.
In 19th century England, Protestants were superior to Catholics, English speakers were superior to Welsh speakers.
This is nonsense. Wealthy Catholics and Welsh speakers were superior to some poor English speakers. After 1832, Catholics could sit in Parliament. By the 1880's the Welsh speaking middle class was better educated than their English neighbours and thus Wales was able to reshape Britain into a Social Democracy under Lloyd George.
In 20th century India, patriotism was defined by the allegiance to the values of the Constitution, not by birth, blood, language or faith.
The Constitution has a Directive Principle regarding banning beef. An Indian can be a patriot while opposing this ban. The same point may be made about the abolition of Privy Purses. Patriotic Indians were not required to shed their blood so as to ensure Maharajas got tax free stipends.
The values of the Constitution are reflected in its articles and codicils. It is a legal document. What Guha reads into it has no legal warrant. It is just hot air.
The second feature of constitutional patriotism is that it operates at many levels.
Patriotism operates at only one level- in the heart of the citizen.
Guha has said in another speech-
The second founding feature is the recognition on the multiple levels on which patriotism can and must be practiced.
There is no such recognition. The guys who wrote the Constitution were smart. They knew the Law. Patriotism is not something that can be inculcated by coercive means. Lack of patriotism is not an offense in itself. There has to be some overt act harmful to the public weal before the Law gets involved.
Patriotism, like charity, begins at home, by how you treat your children, how you treat those who may work for you; it goes out into the street, the locality, city, the district, the province and the country.
Patriotism means love ad devotion to the Patria- the fatherland. It may require one to attack one's own home town or even kill your own children. The Indian Constitution is more Unitary than Federalist. It does not concede a right to secession. Thus, if there is a conflict between local separatists and the Union of India, patriotism requires loyalty to the latter not the former.
Catalan separatists are now discovering a similar fact about the Spanish Constitution for themselves. Indians have long known it. Sheikh Abdullah languished in jail for many years while his friend Nehru ruled the roost.
It operates at different levels and these levels are complimentary and they do not clash.
Sometimes they are complementary, sometimes they clash. When the clash, patriotism requires siding with the Union.
It is not just worshipping the national flag that makes you a patriot.
Worship of any purely political creation is deeply repugnant. It is idolatry. It endangers the Patria. It is not part of patriotism at all.
It is how you deal with your neighbours and your neighbourhood, how you relate to your city, how you relate to your state.
Civic Pride is not the same thing as Patriotism. I may be civil and neighbourly and show public spirit and yet lack patriotism. An Indian living in Dubai or Shanghai may be Civil and neighbourly and full of public spirit. Yet, no one expects him to be a patriot of the country where he is domiciled. However, he continues to be bound by the laws of his host country.
In America, which is professedly one of the most patriotic countries in the world, every state has its own flag.
Only Texas requires students to know how to pledge allegiance to the State flag- though about 12 other States have such pledges. Guha must know that the American Constitution defines patriotism as loyalty to the Union, not one's own State. Why bring this up in the Indian context? Did we have a Civil War over Slavery?
And some states of India also have their own flag, albeit informally. Every November, when Rajyotsava Day is celebrated in Karnataka, a red-and-yellow flag is unfurled in many parts of the state. It is not Anglicised upper-class elites like this writer who display this flag of Karnataka, but shopkeepers, farmers, and autorickshaw drivers.
Guha, like me, is a Tamil Brahmin. He knows very well that the Karnataka flag is about 'sons of the soil' type policies aimed at 'immigrants'. It has nothing to do with patriotism.
Patriotism can operate at multiple levels. The Bangalore Literary Festival (which is not sponsored by shady corporates, but is crowd-funded) is an example of civic patriotism.
'Civic pride' is the correct collocation. 'Civic patriotism' would involve fighting off besiegers or expelling interlopers.
The red-and-yellow flag of Karnataka is an example of provincial patriotism. Like the Shiv Sena flag.
Cheering for the Indian cricket team is an example of national patriotism.
Only in the view of Norman Tebbit in this country.
So, patriotism can operate at more than one level—the locality, the city, the province and the nation.
No. Patriotism only operates at the level of the heart. It may increase civic pride and public spirit but it remains focused on the patria. India is fortunate in that, at least for Hindus, there is a notion of a heimat larger than one's province. That is the root of Hindu patriotism. Some Indian Muslim thinkers have eloquently expressed a similar concept and linked it to the hadith- hubb al watan min al iman. Historically, first generation immigrants might refuse a land grant on the grounds that India was dar ul harb (as happened in the case of the famous Reza Khan) but those born in India who were known as al Hindi had no similar scruple.
A broad-minded (as distinct from paranoid) patriot recognises that these layered affiliations can be harmonious, complementary and reinforce one another.
So, Guha thinks paranoid patriots exist. Why? It is the hallmark of paranoia that love turns to hate and fear. A patriot who begins to suffer from this mental illness will believe that the country he used to love has become utterly evil and that it is secretly trying to poison or otherwise do away with him.
The model of patriotism advocated by Gandhi and Tagore was not centralised, but disaggregated.
I see. Conventional models of patriotism are about everybody getting together to repel an invader. Gandhi and Tagore's model was of everybody running away in different directions.
And it has helped make India a diverse and united nation.
How? According to Tagore, the diversity was there to start with. At Independence, Indians took over the administrative machinery left by the British. No 'disaggregated model of patriotism' was responsible for the shape of India inherited from the Raj. Where borders were threatened, it was a centralised model of patriotism- soldiers obeying orders- which prevented them crumbling altogether.
Look at what is happening in Spain today. Why have the Catalans rebelled? Because they weren’t given the space and the freedom to honourably have their own language and culture.
Nonsense! The thing is purely political and has a lot to do with E.U mandated austerity. Guha must be out of his mind if he thinks Catalans are denied their own language and culture.
And the centralised Spanish state came down so hard that the Catalans had a referendum in which many of them said, ‘we want independence’.
Sheer lunacy! The Catalan referendum was an illegal stunt for a shallow political purpose. It backfired.
Had the Republic of Spain been founded and run on Indian principles, this would not have happened.
If Spain had been run on Indian principles it would be a starving shithole.
Had Pakistan not imposed Urdu on Bengalis, they may not have split in two nations a mere quarter-of-a-century after Independence.
Pakistan split because the Bengalis got a majority in the elections. Bhutto and the Army didn't want to answer to Bengalis. Urdu was a side issue.
Had Sri Lanka not imposed Sinhala on the Tamils they would not have had thirty years of ethnic strife.
Sri Lanka weakened the army because of fears of a Burgher led coup. This made it vulnerable to insurgency- communist (JVP) or ethnic. Buddhist chauvinism was a factor as was some Cold War meddling.
India has escaped civil war and secession because its founders wisely did not impose a single religion or single language on its citizens.
No. The State does not have the capacity to impose very much and thus its 'wisdom' is irrelevant. What matters is if the Army can crush insurrections and seal borders. India could do so because of the 'centralised', not 'dis-aggregated' patriotism of its soldiers.
One can be a patriot of Bangalore, Karnataka, and India—all at the same time. No. If one is a patriot of India, one can't eject other Indians from Bangalore. Previously it was thought one could be a patriotic Britisher as well as believe in a common European heimat. But, it seems this is not so anymore because British politicians have decided that they want to keep some Europeans out of Britain. But the notion of a world citizen is false. Not at all! There are people who believe it is immoral to prevent the entry of exit of anybody whatsoever. The British-born Indian J.B.S. Haldane put it this way: “One of the chief duties of a citizen is to be a nuisance to the government of his state. As there is no world state, I cannot do this.... On the other hand I can be, and am, a nuisance to the government of India, which has the merit of permitting a good deal of criticism, though it reacts to it rather slowly. I also happen to be proud of being a citizen of India, which is a lot more diverse than Europe, let alone the US, USSR or China, and thus a better model for a possible world organisation. It may, of course, break up, but it is a wonderful experiment. So I want to be labelled as a citizen of India”. Why did Haldane and his wife become Indian citizens? It was because his wife was sacked for drunkenness. They were both quite batty. Haldane went on a hunger strike because some Canadian Pentecostal couldn't come to a dinner he'd arranged. The Canadian later converted to the Wicca Religion. All quite mad.
Why is Guha mentioning Haldane? Being a nuisance isn't patriotism- it is being a silly arse.
A citizen of India can vote in panchayat, assembly and parliamentary polls; he or she can make demands on their local sarpanch, MLA, or MP. Wow! It sure must be swell being an Indian and getting to be a nuisance to so many different people. But how has this helped Indian people? Are they all comfortably off? Do they have no unmet needs?
In between elections he or she can affirm their citizenship (at all these levels) through speech and (non-violent) action. So what? This has nothing to do with patriotism. No sacrifice for the greater good is involved. But global citizenship is a mirage; or a cop-out. Those who cannot or will not identify with locality, province or nation accord themselves the fanciful and fraudulent title of ‘citizen of the world’. How so? A 'global citizen' can harass the U.N Secretary General in addition to harassing his local Councillor or M.L.A or M.P or P.M. Under both British and Indian law, a person who rejects British or Indian patriotism still has the same rights of self-expression as one who loves his locality, province and nation.
The third feature of constitutional patriotism, and this again comes from people like Gandhi and Tagore, is the recognition that no state, no nation, no religion or no culture is perfect or flawless.
Utter balderdash! Indians are welcome to believe that their revealed Religion or favoured Ideology is perfect and flawless. Some Indians believed that the sun shone out of Stalin's and then Mao's ass. So what? The Constitution accorded them the right to act in a self regarding manner in this respect. Thus 'constitutional patriotism'- were it not an oxymoron- would counsel respecting these nutjobs' beliefs and not offending against them.
India is not superior to America necessarily, nor is America superior to India necessarily.
India is necessarily superior to America if you are an Indian citizen who can't emigrate to America. Why? Because a country where you can actually live and work and derive utility is necessarily superior, for you, to one where you can do no such thing.
Hinduism is not superior to Christianity necessarily, nor is Islam superior to Judaism necessarily. Hinduism is necessarily superior for me because I can only please my loved ones by carrying out Hindu rituals, not Christian ones, of a specific type. Religious and ideological fundamentalists are possessed by the idea of superiority. They believe that they and only they have the perfect truth. As opposed to you who just gasses on and on saying nothing because you genuinely believe the truth is any old shite you blurt out.
But no state, no religion, is perfect or flawless. And no leader either. The great B.R. Ambedkar, in his last speech to the Constituent Assembly, said that “in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship”. That's why Ambedkar thought Gandhi's assassination a good thing.
Ambedkar’s warning was prophetic. It anticipated the rule, or rather the misrule, of Indira Gandhi, which came about only because her bhakts placed their liberties at her feet.
Sheer nonsense! Indira had sycophants. Gandhi had worshippers. Indira's sycophants wanted to get rid of judicial and parliamentary checks and balances so as to enrich themselves. The dynasty too profited- Madam Sonia was the other shareholder in Maruti.
And now, Modi bhakts are blindly worshipping our present prime minister.
But Modi is an RSS man who has to bow to whichever grey eminence runs that body.
In truth, this cult of the great leader which Ambedkar warned against bedevils not only Indian politics, but also Indian corporate and intellectual life, even Indian cricket. Guha alone still subscribes to the Great Man theory of History. He quotes Tagore's tosh as if it means anything.
Gandhi himself once admitted to making a Himalayan blunder. Why did he do so? It was because Dyer had massacred peaceful satyagrahis. Gandhi had to call off the agitation because the British were prepared to use post-Mutiny tactics. Gandhi's followers would have been massacred and he himself transported, never to be heard off again. Gandhi knew what the Brits were capable off because he knew what happened to the Boers in the concentration camps. But I cannot recall Narendra Modi acknowledging even a minor mistake. Unlike Gandhi, who had no power or official position, Modi has power and official position. If he admits a mistake then there is both criminal and civil recourse against him and his administration. However, it is very important that citizens recognise that like nations and cultures, leaders are not perfect or infallible either. Why is it very important? Suppose citizens are so stupid that they think some leader is infallible. Only if the leader follows a dangerously misguided policy will those citizens suffer any harm. However, even leaders believed to be fallible may do the same thing. Thus the belief of citizens re. infallibility of a Pope or Politician is wholly irrelevant.
The fifth feature of constitutional patriotism is the ability to be rooted in one’s culture while being willing to learn from other cultures and countries.
Patriotism motivates one to do something helpful for one's patria. 'Being rooted in one's culture' may be unhelpful for it. Japanese people gave up their kimonos and katanas for trousers and rifles. This was beneficial for their patria. Being willing learn things needful for the defence of one's country is certainly patriotic. But utility not provenance is all that matters.
This too must operate at all levels. If you live in Basavanagudi, love Basavangudi, but think what you can learn from Jayanagar or Richmond Town. Love Bangalore but think what you can learn from Chennai or Hyderabad. Love Karnataka, but think what you can learn from Kerala or Himachal Pradesh. Love India, but think of what you can learn from Sweden or Canada. So, true patriots must be rooted in their locality, their state, their country but have the recognition and the understanding that they can learn from other cultures, other cities, other countries who have done some things better than them.
If you live in the Majestic area, love the prostitutes there but think what you can learn from the Red Light districts of Amsterdam or Bangkok.
A fourth feature of constitutional patriotism is this: we must have the ability to feel shame at the failures of our state and society, and we must have the desire and the will to correct them. Why feel shame? It is a childish, heteronomous, emotion. Shame causes us to hide things. It is not a rational emotion. Better to have a sense of sin and desire expiation. Even better is to proceed according to a purely rational calculus of Costs and Benefits. This does mean making trade-offs and taking risks. There is a regret minimising strategy of a statistical nature which we should adopt. The most gross and debased aspects of Indian culture and society are discrimination against women and against Dalits. And a true patriot must feel shame about them. Gandhi felt shame, Ambedkar felt shame, Nehru felt shame, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay felt shame. That is why in our Constitution we abolished caste and gender distinctions. Quite true! Indian Constitution abolished secondary sexual characteristics. Yet these distinctions pervade everyday life. Because some people still have dicks and others don't. How shameful! Unless we continue to feel shame, and act accordingly, they will continue to persist. So, if you want your dick to disappear, continue to feel shame. Probably your acting accordingly consists in chopping the thing off.
Two quotes, from the greatest of modern Indians, illustrate this open-minded patriotism very well. Thus Tagore wrote in 1908: “If India had been deprived of touch with the West, she would have lacked an element essential for her attainment of perfection'.
Hang on! I thought Guha said we mustn't think any country could be perfect. What's going on here? Does it have to do with chopping off our dicks?
'Europe now has her lamp ablaze. We must light our torches at its wick and make a fresh start on the highway of time. That our forefathers, three thousand years ago, had finished extracting all that was of value from the universe, is not a worthy thought. We are not so unfortunate, nor the universe so poor”.
Did Tagore act upon his own recommendation? Nope. He went to London in his robes and got Yeats to write an introduction to Gitanjali. From the Imperial point of view, Tagore was a useful idiot. He demonstrated that the East was spiritual, as Yeats demonstrated the mad mystic strain in the Irish mind, and thus India was as unfitted for self-rule as Ireland because spirituality and mad mysticism are marks of political imbecility.
Thirty years later, Gandhi remarked: “In this age, when distances have been obliterated, no nation can afford to imitate the frog in the well. Sometimes it is refreshing to see ourselves as others see us”. Quite true. The world had indeed come to see India as a country saved from starvation and civil strife only by the Brits. Why? Because Gandhi's economic policy was of every village drowning itself in its own well.
As a patriotic Indian, I am delighted that the West has acknowledged the importance and value of yoga. Why? You feel delight at something which doesn't matter in the slightest. How does this make you patriotic? Likewise, there must be many aspects of life in the West, in Africa, in China and Japan that we can acknowledge, appreciate, learn from. One aspect of life in Africa is a loathing of worthless verbiage. Learn that, Guha. As Tagore suggested, we must find glory in the illumination of a lamp lit anywhere in the world. So, we should all sit up half the night feeling glory because somewhere some guy turned on a lamp. That's bound to be really helpful for our country.
An appreciation of individual and cultural diversity; a readiness to enact one’s citizenship at different levels; the recognition that no religion, nation, or leader is flawless; the ability to feel shame at the crimes of one’s religion, state, society or nation; the willingness to learn from other countries—these, to me, are the five founding features of the model of patriotism bequeathed us by the nation’s founders.
Indians under the Raj were welcome to indulge themselves to their heart's content in each of these five features. What they couldn't do was defend their own country's borders or its interests abroad. This meant that if the British had decided, on the basis of their own self interest, to abandon the North East to the Japanese in the hope that their supply lines would get over-stretched, then this 'five fold' 'constitutional patriotism' could have done nothing at all other than feel some more shame and recognise leaders are not flawless and so forth.
As a matter of fact, when the Chinese invaded, Nehru certainly showed this 'five fold' patriotism in his address to the people of Assam
. Far from striking a Churchillian note, the old Harrovian came across as a pathetic old woman. It was felt that he was writing off the Brahmaputra valley. This rankles in their heart to this day.
This model is now in tatters. It is increasingly being replaced by a new model of nationalism, which privileges a single religion, Hinduism, which argues that a real Indian is a Hindu.
Not quite. Hindutva is the notion that the real Hindu is a patriotic Indian who will go and fight the Chinese or any other invader. It is also the notion that weeping and crying and feeling shame is quite useless.
This new model also privileges a single language—Hindi.
But Gandhi did that as did the framers of the Constitution. What's new about this?
It insists that Hindi is the national language, and whatever the language of your home, your street, your state, you must speak Hindi also.
This isn't true. Did the BJP make Hindi compulsory in Karnataka when they were in power? Has any one from the party mentioned doing so now? What is actually happening is that private schools are fighting compulsory classes in Kannada. Hindi is a red herring.
Thirdly, this model privileges a common external enemy—Pakistan.
Pakistan and China have always been the external enemies which the Army and Intelligence Agencies prepare to battle. There is nothing new here.
Whether they acknowledge it or not, those promoting this new model of Indian nationalism are borrowing (and more or less wholesale) from 19th century Europe.
The Constitution borrowed wholesale from the Irish model- e.g. on the issue of constitutional autochthony and Directive Principles. 19th Century Europe was wholly irrelevant.
However, to the template of a single religion, a single language and a common enemy they have added an innovation of their own—the branding of all critics of their Party and their Leader as ‘anti-national’. Indira's Congress did that in the Seventies. It locked up opposition politicians and independent journalists. That isn't happening now. This scapegoating comes straight from the holy book of the RSS, M.S. Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts. In this book, Golwalkar identified three ‘internal threats’ to the nation—Muslims, Christians and Communists. Gowalkar was right. Muslims did partition the country and ethnically cleanse Hindus. Communists did mount a military challenge to the State. Christian missionaries in the North East did encourage separatist violence. Under Nehru and his daughter, tough measures were taken against all three. Now, I am not a Muslim, Christian or Communist, but I have nonetheless become an enemy of the nation. Why aren't you in jail? Is it because Modi, unlike Indira, hasn't suspended the rule of Law? Because any critic, any dissenter, anyone who upholds the old ideal of constitutional patriotism is considered by those in power and their cheerleaders to be an enemy of the nation. You are saying there is at least one person who is in power who thinks you are an enemy of the nation. Has he said this to you himself? If so, why have you not made a complaint to the Courts so that he receives the punishment laid down by law for such a gross violation of the constitution? Where is your 'constitutional patriotism' Prof. Guha? Or are you simply lying? No doubt, that is the real meaning of being a 'constitutional patriot'.