Thoughts on Patriotism Nationalism and Jingoism – 2: Inspired by Ramachandra Guha and Art Buchwald
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Thoughts on Patriotism Nationalism and Jingoism – 2: Inspired by Ramachandra Guha and Art Buchwald

November 9, 2017

[Continued from yesterday]

The democracy in US is of Unitary form, with the President of the country directly elected. But in India, we have a democracy which is Federal in nature though Unitary in character. Flags and songs are symbols of sovereignty and sentiment. What is good for America may be bad for India.

I am reminded of Yeat’s famous poem The Second Coming wherein he says: “Things fall apart; the Centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon world”. Here, we may as well replace the word world with India. Political party flags are okay but certainly not State flags. It will not augur well for the Centre and for the integrity  of our country.

Anyway, it is significant to note that Ramachandra Guha was speaking at a kind of function which has become fashionable and a farce, called Bangalore Literature Festival. Were there literary persons? It was more of an anti-Modi crowd. The subject: “Jingoism Vs Patriotism”. Jingoism means extreme or aggressive form of patriotism. He said “Catalans have declared independence since Spain did not let them speak their language among many other concerns.” But who is going to remind the good old saying that “where wealth accumulates men decay”. Catalans demand independence because they are economically independent and prosperous. Like our Punjab once. Catalan is rich, most of the major industries are located there and also major contributor to Spain’s agricultural produce. So the pride. So the demand for independence.

In poverty all the members of a family hang together. But let one son or daughter become rich. He or she wants to separate. Spain pumped all its resources to Catalan because of its geographical advantages. Now it bites the finger that fed it.

Everyone on earth will speak the language he wants, a language that benefits him. One should cut his tongue to stop him. I heard Kamal Hassan blabbering about Tamil language to be politically correct now that he wants to get into politics. Why not he openly propose a 3-language formula — State language, English, Hindi. With a flag and a language of its own to the exclusion of Hindi and English Indian Federal States may politically go overdrive, like it happened with Tamil Nadu and Punjab in the past even without a flag or a single language. Give an inch to a politician, he will take a mile. We know how even at the height of DK movement to banish Hindi, no Hindi Prachara Sabha was attacked. Why? At the all India-level job opportunities are better with knowledge of Hindi. Savvy?

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According to Ramachandra  Guha, as reported in The Hindu, the factors for the kind of Jingoism practised by RSS or BJP or saffron brigade are (1) unpatriotic left because of its ideology (2) the corruption and dynastic rule of the Congress. (3) Rise of Islamic fundamentalism (which is seen among the Muslim minorities in India).

It could be so, but who is to counsel those who are the cause for the birth of Jingoism?  Ramachandra Guha then talks of Constitutional patriotism to counter Jingoism. Does he not remember the Shah Banu Case where Constitution itself was amended. Did it help generate the ‘Constitutional patriotism’ among our minorities or of those political parties who supported the amendment?

Now, without much ado, let me reproduce here Art Buchwald, the American humour-journalist who wrote a parody on nationalism picking a politician’s statement in America, decades ago saying:

“It was a simple fact of life that the United States was a Christian nation”. Now read on:

I was on a Greyhound bus going to Baltimore the other day. I came across a story in the newspaper concerning the trouble that Governor Kirk Fordice of Mississippi got into when he said in a speech that “it was a simple fact of life” that the United States was a “Christian nation.” He was rebuked by the Governor of South Carolina who said that it was a Judeo-Christian country. Fordice responded that if he thought the United States was a Judeo-Christian nation he would have said so. The exchange caused panic in the Republican Party ranks and there were discussions everywhere — even on the bus.

The man next to me, who was reading over my shoulder, said, “I like to think of America as a the Shiite Muslim-Judeo- Christian country,”

“That sounds reasonable,” I told him. Just then an Oriental passenger sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I prefer to describe the United States as a, Buddhist-Shiite Muslim-Judeo-Christian nation.”

A woman wearing a beautiful sari added, “That’s easy for you to say, but has it ever occurred to you that everything that is wonderful about our lives comes from the Hindu culture? You cannot leave us out.”

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I certainly won’t. How about this: “What makes us the greatest people on the face of the earth is that we are a Hindu-Buddhist-Shiite Muslim Judeo-Christian country?”

A man in the back row came forward, “I’m from West Virginia and the US would be another Albania if it was not for the Fundamentalist snake-worshippers.”

“If you’re going to include snake-worshipping, you have to add devil-worshipping.” The man who spoke these words had fangs protruding from his gums and had built a fire in the aisle of the bus.

The discussion was getting out of hand, so I said, “I know that this country prides itself on accepting all kinds of religions, but you cannot include everyone when you describe our religious Culture. It’s true that no matter where you go in America you’ll find a group of people who worship their own God but that doesn’t mean you include every religion at a Governors’ conference.”

“You’re just saying that to eliminate the Holy Rollers,” another passenger added as he sprinkled water on the bus driver. “The country would never have lasted this long if our sect hadn’t led the way.”

I was losing control of the bus. “Perhaps,” I suggested, “we could assign a different religion to the nation every week. That way nobody would be offended.” A Japanese man across the aisle opened his suitcase and took out a Samurai sword which he held to my throat.

“Will you include Shinto as a national U..religion’?”

“I was just about to mention it,” I assured him. I felt that I had all the bases covered when another person got on the bus. He was asked what kind of nation he thought we were and he replied, “An agnostic nation.”

I added that to the list.

It was fascinating to have so many varied opinions on what kind of country the United States really is — on one bus. But we all agreed that  Governor Fordice doesn’t know what he’s talking about — and each of us in our own way prayed for his soul.”

After many decades of Art Buchwald writing this, don’t we hear about US being a ‘Christian nation” that belongs to the White majority but does not exclude others? This is what the RSS Chief said recently.

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Thoughts on Patriotism Nationalism and Jingoism – 2: Inspired by Ramachandra Guha and Art Buchwald”

  1. Thethreewisemen says:

    Yes, what is good for America is bad for India, that is the excuse used to make a layer of people as special and distinct that the ordinary hapless citizens. Think of their Declaration of Independence which underlines their core ethos: “All Men are created equal” , and try to tell this to the Indian ministerial, politicians and officials brigade, and see the result. Sir Alladi used both British unwritten and American written constitutions to cast the independent India’s constitution. Hence, the relevance.
    What is good for America is bad for India? Then why any corrupt official in India demands the graft in US Dollars instead of Rupees?
    We can give examples to shine on the hypocrisy of the statement: “What is good for America is bad for India”.


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