Anti-national debate: Don’t forget that nationalism is the last refuge of scoundrels


S Ramachandaran Sundarajan

There was folklore which goes like this; A mentally retarded man was cured by his doctor partially and he came back to native village. But the villagers continued to make fun of him. He went back to his doctor complaining about the villagers. The doctor took pity on him and gave a certificate to the effect that the man was cured.

He went back to the village and still people ridiculed him. Now, he took the doctor’s certificate out and shouted at the people to show such a certificate that they were also sane.

Former PM V.P.Singh had told this story in the context of Bofors Scam.

Now RSS, which never took part in Indian freedom movement, waves the nationalism ‘certificate’ and asks all of us to show the ‘certificate.’

One fine day this khaki-half trouser -clad gentleman called Mohan Bhagwath sermoned that Bharat Mata Ki Jai slogan should be chanted by all Indians failing which, they were not supposed to remain in India.


Another gentleman called Owaisi picked it up and said he won’t chant it even if a knife is put on his neck.

Then the original khaki half-trouser clad gentleman –all of a sudden –admitted that no one should be compelled to chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

Well, the another gentleman Owaisi, in a sort of ‘understanding’ vacated his place and Darul Uloom Deoband took the mantle and gave a clarification/fatwa, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

The Darul Uloom claimed that its fatwa came in response to thousands of queries from the Indian Muslims as to the chantability or non-chantability of Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

As RTI Act won’t apply to a private body, we cannot enquire as to the specific number of Muslims having asked for this explanation, so that they can take their next meal without committing any sin.

There seems to be a method in this ‘madness’. If you call it quits, I need not, until it suits me. In between us we will share the booty.

So what about the great, proud Indians whose identity is not Hindu/Muslim/ Christian/etc., but whose identity is those who live below poverty line or those living slightly above poverty line.

Churchill said ‘Nationalism is the last refuge of scoundrels.’ Since he was from the so-called mother of all democratic countries, apart from the fact that RSS never fought British and its leaders repeatedly sent letters assuring good behavior, it may be certainly taken for consideration.

Oxford dictionary defines a scoundrel as ‘dishonest or unscrupulous person; a rogue.’ Therefore, someone who is claiming to be a nationalist is essentially a scoundrel, according to Churchill.

To repeat, Churchill said ‘nationalism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Then what may be the previous ‘refuge.’ May be religion, language, or ‘garibi hatao’ or 10% GDP or ‘Make in India’ etc. The list is truly a long one.

The views of other thinkers on ‘nationalism is also not flattering.

Albert Einstein said ‘nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind’. For a change let Pope also be quoted. Pope John Paul II said “Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery.”

I’m really not big on nationalism, said Irish comedian, actor and filmmaker Dylan Moran, to be honest with you. I really don’t think it gets people anywhere except near a pile of dead bodies. Pile of dead bodies? Indeed strong words, coming from an Irish who got their freedom after armed struggle.

After World War II, the winds of nationalism and anti-colonialism blew through the developing world. India was in the midst of its freedom movement. Nehru strongly believed that Independence did not mean chauvinism and narrow nationalism. His kind of ‘Bharat Mata’ was different. He even questioned Gandhiji’s mix of religion and freedom struggle, ‘Ramraj’ etc.

Nationalism has a way of oppressing others says Noam Chomsky. Edward Snowden recorded the truth that in the aftermath of 9/11 most important news outlets in America abdicated their role as a check to power, the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government for fear of being seen as unpatriotic and punished in the market during a period of heightened nationalism.

Naturally or perhaps ideally the globalisation and liberalisation should have brought international sharing of economic advantages, sustainable economics and economic equality. The new age technology should have brought more knowledge sharing, wider art, sports and cultural exchange leading to, perhaps, internationalism and not nationalism, seclusion and protectionism.

Well, it may suit you poor citizen of the world, but not us- the US, ISIS, its local variants RSS. The list, once again is truly a long one.

The author is a lawyer and has also done diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication. Views expressed here are the author’s own and doesn’t subscribe to them


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