By Aadam Farooq
George Carlin, one of America’s finest political satirists and comedians, once said, “I could never understand ethnic or national pride. Because pride should be reserved for something you can achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens by accident of birth.” These lines of George Carlin clearly define the situation currently in India and in a broader sense all over the world, and enclose religious pride and caste superiority pride as well.
Recently, the chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Asaduddin Owaisi, made a remark that he would not chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai because the Constitution of India doesn’t ask him to do so. This remark was in response to the RSS chief’s comment saying that the new generation needs to be taught to chant slogans hailing mother India. The comments of the RSS chief came against the backdrop of the row over alleged anti-India slogans in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Anupam Kher, the self proclaimed intellectual and the only one who defines nationalism in India, recently tweeted, “The only definition of NATIONALISM for Bharatwasis should be “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Rest are all escape routes.” Shiv Sena went a step further and launched a fierce attack on Owaisi and asked for revocation of his citizenship and of all those who don’t chant this slogan. Earlier, a similar situation was created over the chanting of “Vande Mataram” after a fatwa was issued against its chanting.
The question that I ask is: Is shouting slogans the only proof of one’s nationalism? APJ Abdul Kalam Azad was the most reputed scientist and President of his time in the country. He served India by making her one of the few nuclear powers in the world and raised the country’s status in the field of science. He was a true nationalist who didn’t even marry because of his commitments to the nation and its people. Years later, he was honoured as the President of India and where he served the people justly. If at this point of time he was alive and wouldn’t chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai or Vande Mataram would that have made him a traitor?
There are many examples like this and if chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai is made a proof of Indian citizenship and nationalism then India will be home to pseudo-nationalists who will take it into a state of anarchy and chaos. The Constitution nowhere asks the citizens of India to chant or shout slogans to hail their motherland. Moreover, nowhere in the fundamental duties of the Indian Constitution has it been mentioned that people should chant Vande Mataram as proof of their nationalism.
Chanting slogans is a good thing as people show their emotions and feelings. I am not against praising your motherland. However, one shouldn’t be forced to chant these slogans out of fear for his life. He can show his nationalism by serving the people of his country or by chanting other slogans and writing poems and singing songs of patriotism. Anupam Kher’s way is like the Nazi way of forcing ideologies on people and not accepting any other ideology. On one hand, Indian politicians and “intellectuals” like Kher are against honour killings, Khap panchayats and other similar issues, but on the other hand they are in favour of suppressing any idea that may damage their definition of nationalism.
The RSS ideology asks the minorities that they shouldn’t have any love of any foreign “institution” of place like Mecca, Medina or the Vatican. Instead, they say, one should hold India as his highest priority. What RSS forgets is that they are dealing with the strongest power in the world –the power of love. And it doesn’t come by force.
Anupam Kher, Shiv Sena, RSS and others have forgotten that “Saare Jahan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara”, one of the best patriotic poems ever written in the history of India was composed and written by Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal, a Muslim. It was he who later laid the groundwork of Pakistan because of the communal forces that had started to develop in India. Modern day politicians should take a lesson from the partition of India in 1947 and not allow any divisive forces to grow. These forces might be Hindu, Muslim or from any other religion, but they have one thing in common- they are formed by imposing ideological differences on other factions of society.
—The writer is pursuing a BTECH in civil engineering