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The Saffron Book

Nationalism shall create national synergy whereby the effort of four Indians would result in the output of say, six.

11. Nationalism

Dear Verghese
I could see the other evening that you have an instinctive grasp of nationalism as a concept. I wonder whether this grasp has anything to do with the faith to which you belong. I say this because of the communities and religious groups that have operated on a world scale, it is the Christian who contributed most to the evolution of nationalism and practiced it as a political philosophy.

In contrast, most Jews, no matter where they live, candidly show their first sympathy for the idea of Israel. Until 1924, there was the khalifa who was, at lease symbolically, the spiritual as well as the temporal head of all Sunni Islam. The communist is, Per se, an internationalist owing his first loyalty to the workers of the world rather than to the government of his country.

As I told you, suraaj is our ultimate goal. The question is how to get there. There is no short cut and the only way to achieve the objective is with the help of nationalism. Unless our country becomes nationalist, it is going to be well nigh impossible to become modern, leave alone a suraaj. And what is nationalism?

To put it simply, a nation is the extension of a joint family. It is the macro or the enlargement of what is micro or small as represented by a family.

Most people usually have a common tradition and a shared memory which is often called a common consciousness. Usually they speak the same language and worship similar Gods. But not necessarily so. When someone in the family marries a lady from another part of the country or the worlrl, she may speak a deifferent language and profess a different faith. But she can still be very much an integral part of the family. The ultimate test of her membership is her loyalty to the family.

In exchange for this loyalty and love, the individual experiences a sense of belonging and a sense of security. The family roof offers shelter and protection. The family's goodwill gives the individual an identity, a legitimacy and a respectability. To belong to a nation, therefore, is to save oneself from the loneliness of an orphan or the diffidence which is often associated with an illegitimate child.

Property, whether land or building, gives the joint family a physical base. It provides a material bond to the members and the promise of a refuge in times of adversity. Territory is similarly the nation's property.Without it, the nation disperses just as the joint family disintegrates when it does not have its land or buildings. The Jewish nation is a classic example. After its diaspora or dispersal from Palestine, over 20 centuries ago, the Jewish people had no territory. The people dispersed to settle as far away as India, Iran, Russia, Germany, Poland and theUSA.

The ill treatment of the Jews has a long history. Anti-semitism is a common expression. Except in India, they were discriminated against everywhere. In Europe, they could neither own land nor get state employment. The climax of their tragedy was the extermination of six million Jews by Adolf Hitler before and during World War II. What acolossal price for a people to pay for not possessing territory! This should be a useful reminder to those Indians who do not recognise the sanctity of our Motherland and who object to the prayer 'Vande Mataram'.

After a long struggle, the Jews were able to acquire a part of Palestine as their territory. In 1948, the State of Israel was established with a small population including those who had been immigrating since1882. It was indeed an old national dream at last come true. The Jews behaved like a nation possessed. With energy and determination, they have built up a country of now 47 lakh (4.7 million) Jews who inspire awe in the hearts of 13 crore (130 million) Arabs across West Asia! Such is the magic of a motherland.

What is else practical value of nationalism? The answer is simple. No society has successfully graduated from the medieval, agrarian stage of history to the modern industrial era without the energy of nationalism. The communist countries were the exceptions which tried to take a historic leap into the modern age without the help of a nationalist spirit. In fact, they deprecated nationalism and claimed they were internationalist. Their call was for the workers of the world to unite.

The Soviet Union led this experiment which, as is well known, ended in disaster. The failure was similar in the satellite countries of Europe. Be it Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Romania, all have abandoned communism. Observe also the contrast between North Korea and South Korea. Nationalism must not be confused with either liberalization or democracy. The regime in Seoul, South Korea, was autocratic until quite recently. The Chinese leadership after Mao Dze-dong was wise enough to see the point and to abandon its internationalist posture. Today China is a picture of Han (their race)nationalism.

Contrast the Russian disaster with the Japanese miracle. An islandcountry with few natural resources and see how it is aspiring to become the wealthiest nation on earth. And remember Japan suffered a severe reverse in World War II. The atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 is still green in world memory. As a people, the Japanese are extraordinarily single minded in their purpose; to the extent of being obsessed by their objective. But that alone would not have taken them so far. What has made the overwhelming difference is their nationalism carried, as it were, to perfection in unity.

The whole nation has one supreme goal: to improve technology, make better and better products and to export more and more of them. What is unique is how the whole nation puts its collective shoulder to the wheel of this supreme goal. As if every Japanese, man, woman and child, whether he/she is in industry, farming, government or municipality, is preoccupied with the supreme goal. This explains the nature of their exceptional achievement.

Just contrast the Indian stagnation with the Japanese miracle. In1945, India was better placed than the war ravaged land of  the rising sun. Yet our country kept fumbling: going forward in some areas, receding backwards in others and marking time in many others. If there be one reason for this stagnation, it is the neglect of nationalism for all the decades since Independence.

The collective memory or the consciousness of virtually all Indians is about the same. Whether it is described as Hindu, Bharatiya or Indian, it amounts to the same. The ancestors of most Indians were at some stage or another Hindu. True, the Parsees came from Iran and have maintained their separate identity. But over the thousand years that they have been here, they have imbibed more than enough of the Indian ethos to be politically speaking one with the rest. The position of the Jews may be comparable.

True, a small percentage of the Muslims who came to India may or may not share the same consciousness. But even two or three centuries are not a short time. And who can claim to be of pure foreign blood? In any case, many of those who had strong nonIndian leanings migrated toPakistan. There was no Islam even in most of what is now Pakistan until the 13th century. Even Sind and Baluchistan had none till after the coming of Mohammed bin Qasim in the eighth century.

The essence of cultural nationalism was captured by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University in a speech he delivered in 1884 (British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance edited by Dr. R.C. Majumdar page 309, taken from Eminent Mussalmans (Natesan) page 32, Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan) "Do you not inhabit the same land? he asked. Remember that the words Hindu and Mahomedan are only meant for religious distinction - otherwise all persons, whether Hindu or Mahomedan, and even Christians who reside in this country, are all in this particular respect belonging to one and the same nation". In another speech he referred to the Hindus and Muslims as forming one nation. To a Punjabi Hindu audience he said that every inhabitant of Hindustan is a Hindu, and added "I am therefore very sorry that you do not regard me as a Hindu". (India Divided page99 by Rajendra Prasad).

The Saffron Book
Prafull Goradia
1. Awake and Unite!
2. Why The Saffron Book?

10. Small States
3. Vision
4. Economic Face
5. Abolish Casteism
6. Bride Burning, Divorce
7. Rape, Prostitution
8. Revolutionising Education
9. The Constitution

11. Nationalism
12. Pan-Islamism
13. Communism
14. Subnationalism
15. Casteism

16. Hindutva is Dialectical
17. Origin of Hinduism
18. Medieval Phase
19. Modern Resurgence
20. Not Fundamentalism
21. Not Fascism
22. Tolerance
23. Strengths
24. Weaknesses
25. Opportunities
26. Threats
27. Individual Brilliance

Hindu Paradoxes
42. Idolatry
43. Fatalism
44. Double Standards
45. Masochistic Fringe
46. Fifth Column
47. No Soul before Birth

48. Proselytising Unwelcome
49. Myth of Divide and Rule

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