Surges Of Nationalism And Just Where To Stuff Them

Jaded's picture

The last few days out here have been rather strange. Strange enough that I actually paid attention to what was happening around me instead of just going on under the oblivious haze I call my eyesight. It so seems everyone is very concerned about 'India' these past three weeks -- concerned only in the worst possible of ways -- and more specifically about how is the 'image' of India being represented. This isn't to say there aren't such tower guards employed by the Government to make sure we're represented as a footstool of human civilisation and or as a growing super-power (as per your specifications and the amount of money you can loan us!¹) but rather the whole country now wants to openly engage in this 'patriotism'. For a while I thought it was because of the Gandhi anniversary on the 2nd of this month that has swept the nation into wholesale CountryLove but then I remembered all we do on Gandhi Jayanti is stay at home, drink the stocked up alcohol and try to look interested in the latest GandhiFlick that Bollywood spurned this year. And it turns out the real reason for this mass-ejaculation of patriotism are two entirely different polarised debates.

For the uninitiated, Delhi is the host of this year's Commonwealth Games and garnered a lot of justified negative reputation when ceilings and bridges began to collapse two weeks before the event. Of course the media had a field day supposedly 'exaggerating everything out of proportion' (frankly I don't blame them. I'd take the Government to task every turn I could too) while the politicians in charge started paling and gave out silly and inane replies providing the weekly quota of entertainment. In the light of these events, a lot of people were ashamed to think of what would happen to the image of India now? "THEY WILL ALWAYS SEE US AS A BACKWATER SEWAGE DUMP NOW" has become the chief concern. Not the gang rapes of Dalit women a few kilometers out of the national capital, or the fact that someone set another Dalit woman on fire after raping her but what will people (read: other countries) think of our sanitary practices. We're quite placid about massive groups of Delhi beggars who have been shipped out of the city since the past four months² just so the city can look like poverty never touched it but the fact that international candidates are opting out of the game makes us cringe wholeheartedly, collectively and uniformly. So the poorly constructed stadiums and terrible lodging arrangements are the source of national shame but the thousands displaced by floods last week in Delhi hardly make it to two centimeter notes in the paper. When I raise such questions, often I'm berated for being a 'bad' Indian; for don't you know good Indians don't critique the Government -- especially in events like this one -- but instead make groups to encourage positive environment? I didn't know either till fifteen different people sent me the same e-mail coaxing me to join the group that will magically pump me up with Optimism! and Happy Feelings! about the Commonwealth Games (without any drugs they say!). Which is the exact same time, co-incidentally, I burst a blood-vessel in there somewhere.

Repeatedly ritually and routinely we're encouraged to participate in this 'nationalistic fervor' to promote India while easily turning a blind eye towards the internal problems that plague us such as the Olde Woman Problem where silly feminist bitches want to destigmatise abortion and abolish female feticide, the Dalit Question where those ruthless buggers are still demanding equal rights -- Didn't we give them three seats in buses and trains? people can't stop asking--, The Army Question where the army is engaged in 'encounters' every other day in Jammu and Kashmir as countless rapes, thefts and forced entries go unreported to name a few. To top this, the Babri Masjid verdict came out yesterday which sanctioned that Lord Ram was indeed born in Ayodhya and the Hindus were always right and the Muslim buggers need a swift kick you-know-where. Or at least that's how it sounded like in my head as many people from my community set out to celebrate Hindu domination and force out into the streets. In fact, I even heard many people saying, "Even if we will shame ourselves in Delhi, we at least showed those Muslim devils their place" as we once again croon how great Hinduism is while completely forgetting to mention the fascist leanings of Hindu Supremacy groups (one of them being the B.J.P which is the national freaking opposition). Why does our nationalism have to be so ruthlessly set on Othering and marginalising minority groups?

As I've said before, nationalism isn't for me where I'd be required to let go of my humanity, build up this 'love' for my country on the basis of hating someone else's homeland. Somehow boxing and labeling people isn't something I'd like to do, even if my life depended on it , despite how much 'fun' it may seem like (it's just like doing origami! Only you fold people to your imagination instead of coloured paper they say). What disgusts me here is the CollectiveReprimandTone almost everyone -- from my parents to the woman who dusts my house -- has so easily internalised. "What do you mean you don't feel a thing about the Babri Masjid verdict?" or "How can you even call yourself Indian?" are common questions as well as sickeningly popular opinions. Whenever I manage to steer the conversation to letting go of personal biases and evaluating the situation critically, the easiest remedy is to say "But don't you think we deserve to win the court case?" or say "scrounge up your two-inch deep respect for the country, will you?". Apparently these statements don't hamper common sense in other people. Supposedly. But I digress.

This is a particularly sore topic for me and many others to discuss because so much is wound up with both of these events. Not 'national pride' people of the Olde Interwebes but the massive effort it takes to come to terms with such nationwide brutality. The fact that so many people were exploited as they worked the last few weeks to make the National Capital 'seem' worthy of International press or the fact that the same city espouses currently thousands of displaced people who lost everything in the floods or the communal riots that can take place soon considering the verdict was more legally unfair than believable and so many things I may not even be aware of.

These bouts of nationalism that we seek and encourage epidemically just turn us into perpetrators of violence, inhuman as we are so ready to marginalise and exploit anyone we can in the social, cultural and economic ladder as long as we can look like the country people see on our coins and notes. All I know is, these surges of nationalism just need to be shoved up capitalism, cultural imperialism and neo-colonisation's respective hindquarters -- after nationalism needs to be reunited with its parent ideologies. Don't believe me? Google Gramsci. He'll explain everything.

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1. Seriously, ask P. Sainath. He has all the answers you need.

2. Observation of a police officer in Delhi who wishes to remain anonymous.

 

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Comments

I'm sorry

But I don't agree with the point of view of this post at all. I'm an Indian and nationalism, a sentiment this "jaded16" scoffs so much at is an extremely important sentiment. That's how we got freedom. This is how the country is still one even after so many problems within communities. Also, those Dalit women rapes that "jaded16" mentions, they aren't exactly what you call surprising. It's Leftist writers like "jaded16" and the journalists she quotes that make them seem scandolous but in reality, they aren't. And those Dalit women were probably just prostitutes who are now 'claiming' rape. I wouldn't be surprised if that was so.

I don't like the condescending tone "jaded16" takes here and in many of her posts. Almost as if she knows better than the rest of us. Also, a clarification: The BJP is a fine party. What is wrong in promoting or even preffering Hinduism? Again, "jaded16's" Leftist ideals clouds her judgment.

Ayesha.

As long as we're talking about things we don't like...

arvan's picture
5

I don't like your sexist, patriarchal rape-apology.  How dare you?

As far as I can tell, you are just another miltaristic bully who is fine with religious intolerance so long as it is your religion in power.  And you seem to be completely fine with calling a rape victim a prostitute to devalue her word and value as a human.

Nationalism may or may not be a good idea.  However, what 'freed' India was kicking out the British and not deciding that one set of fariy tales is better than another and therefore justification for inequality.

If you want to give Indians something to be proud of - try defending rape victims instead of calling them prostitutes and casting dispersions on them.  Otherwise, you're just another sexist, militaristic, theocratic bully in a long line of them across the planet.  And just to let you in on something - that is nothing to be proud of.

-arvan

Oh, yeah and by the way - why is it that you didn't address the author herself?  I'll tell you why - because you devalue her as a woman and you are trying to bully or manipulate her voice and opinion out of existence.  Again - NOTHING to be proud of.

Easy for you to say

What do you know about the Dalit situation in India? Most Dalit women are Maoists who deserve any punishment that they get. Another thing, I advise you to go check the facts yourself instead of just relying on this 'jaded16'. Most Dalit women claim oppression and rape just to escape police procedures. And these Dalits are so poor, they will do anything for money, even become prostitues and then cry rape. It's an old tradition in India.

The BJP is a fine party with ideal goals. India mainly comprises of Hindus, there is nothing wrong in having or supporting a party that furthers Hinduism. To devalue nationalism, especially on Gandhiji's Birthday! Jaded16 crossed a line there. And see any history book, it IS nationalism that brought us together.

The reason I don't address this 'jaded16' is because I have nothing to say to her. Also, what kind of an Indian takes a name like 'jaded16'. After reading this post, I'm sure she's not one.

Ayesha.

Hey Ayesha, a quick word?

Jaded's picture

I know you didn't address me again, but there are a few things that need to be told. Also, I figure this will make you smile even more. So.

First off, there is a WORLD of difference between Dalits and the Maoists. The 'Dalits' are a community that has been Othered, dehumanised and used for the longest time in Indian history, earliest evidences go right back to the Vedic age. The Maoists however, are a group of people that have been so entirely disillusioned by the Government policies that did nothing for the socially and economically backward castes and classes, that they've now taken up arms against the Government since the Independence.  Their idea of a society is to completely remodel it, even if that advocates, uses and encourages armed insurrection. I don't condone any violence ever, for me any war is also non-justifiable. Even then, to say someone 'deserves' to be punished -- in this case raped -- is more than a little extreme. Whatever crimes the Maoists or the Government or ANYONE ANYWHERE commits, rape is not a suitable 'punishment'. It's a vile game of power, here used against the Dalit women to assert power over their collective status as "inferior beings" and to reaffirm the assumption that they are "bodies to be possessed at will".

The "ideal" goals of the BJP include promoting and favouring Hindutva among people. That's about it. This "ideal" goal negates the identities of various communities that are not Hindu, living in India since and long before the Independence. It's rather funny isn't it that a country that so proudly calls itself "secular" engages so disgustingly in communalism every opportunity it gets? Nationalism didn't get us freedom, the joint, co-incidental and orchestrated actions of various groups led to Independence. Gandhi isn't the only leader who was a part of the freedom struggle, we had a lot of other Radical heroes and fighters too. Many of whom were tribal and/or Dalit people and whose contribution we have very successfully erased. And just a tiny fact about Gandhi, though he worked for the 'upliftment' of the Dalits, he called them 'harijans' a term that itself Others the Dalit community into a 'different' subsect, if even that. He's not quite the G*d you make him out to be. I suggest, it's your turn to look at History books. I can even recommend a few if you want.

You don't get to decide what do I call myself or how. And I can call myself "Queen Of Freaking England" and STILL be Indian.

Jaded16.


Ayesha

arvan's picture

You call your party de jour the BJP, over here it's the GOP, in Israel they are the Likud, in Venezuela they are the PSUV, in Britain they are the Tories and so on.  They are all the conservative status quo - intent on hoarding wealth and privilege, using religion / ideology to justify it and brute force to squash any and all resistance.

You have no claim to special status other than the silence your insults, arrogance and brutality net you.

How dare you come to a site where people share who we are in our own terms and tell someone that you, in your self-appointed righteousness and arrogance - are the person to judge their value or identity?

You're on the wrong side of history.  You're on the side of bullies and tyrants.  What is worst of all for people who choose the oppression of others for their financial gain - they are damning themselves and their own children to another generation of a failed society.

As a woman, Ayesha I ask you why you spend time trying to silence another woman instead of asking how you can magnify her voice and the voices of every other woman on the planet?

The only proven method to break the cycle of poverty is the education of women.  Not religious education, which teaches them that women are shit because 'god' said so, but real education - about their bodies, about math, language, reasoning and whatever they might want to do to earn a living.  Any society that denies half its population education is doomed to failure.  Pray all you want to your god for your co-believers to prevail, but the only thing your plan produces is bloodshed, poverty and disease.

-arvan

 

comment deleted

arvan's picture
5

Ayesha,

your latest insulting comment was deleted.  Any future insults will also be deleted.  If that is all you have to offer, please do not return.

-arvan

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