Liberty and Nationalism – the Indian way – Part 4

Liberty and Nationalism – the Indian way – Part 4

- in NGI Stories, Politics
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Part 4 (final): The practical implications of patriotism and free speech

Now let us come back to our basic duties towards our land and her people by the standard of a modern democratic system. It is summed up nicely by Mark Twain: “My kind of loyalty was to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.

And then Thomas Paine talks about the nature of such a nation: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

However, Indian communists neither believe in a nation nor a state. They believe in a utopian ‘world communism’, to have a worldwide stateless communist society – similar to an Islamic world or Islamic Khilafat or Dar-Ul-Islam. We also know quite a bit about people who have little to no respect for the Indian flag – after all one of their favorite role models, Arundhati Roy said: “Flags are bits of colored cloth used first to shrinkwrap people’s brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.”

We must understand the broader concepts of rashtra, dharma, rna etc., for they are tremendously valuable for the foundation of an advanced human civilization. Looking to specifics, I support the views of American politician Adlai E. Stevenson II: “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime”.

 We must remind rational people who value democracy – a warning from Theodore Roosevelt:  “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”

Is India free of British colonial thoughts, rules and laws? Does the Indian constitution allow true freedom to people or is it merely an instrument to continue the foreign dominion via the ‘brown sahibs’? In the wisdom of Rabindranath: “..political freedom does not give us freedom when our mind is not free. An automobile does not create freedom of movement, because it is a mere machine. When I myself am free I can use the automobile for the purpose of my freedom.” And is a vehicle like  the world’s largest constitution in consonance with the ethos and aspirations of the people of India, which gives true freedom to all? The time may be ripe to ask these questions, including revisions and clarifications and possible elimination of the 150 year-old British Sedition law of 1860 (Indian Penal Code Chapter VI, Sections 121-130 – Offences against the state).

The state, according to Kautilya, “..must be based on sound economic foundations, so that it enables men to realize the aims of his life, to lessen as much as possible, the struggle of existence at home, to lessen the dependence of the community on the outside world, to be in a position to help other sections of humanity in distress, and thereby to ensure an existence conducive to the happiness of men in this life and paving the way to a brighter beyond.” According to Kautilya, the state is not just a materialistic concept but a spiritual one too.  And ‘spiritual’ does not mean ‘religious’ but rather an inner connection of one’s self and the rest of the creation, including social and political spheres, as mentioned earlier.

Sri Aurobindo has provided us with a roadmap for a higher social structure and political framework where societies and political systems would evolve from the current ones to a society “in which respect for individual liberty and free growth of the personal being to his perfection is harmonized with respect for the needs, and efficiency, solidarity, natural growth and organic perfection of the corporate being.” He had envisioned that nation-states would evolve into a true ‘world union’ of states allowing maximum diversity among all inhabitants – individual, ethnic, race and creed to realize highest potential. These are long-term goals of our civilizations. Similarly, according to Rabindranath – ‘”… man will have to exert all his power of love and clarity of vision to make another great moral adjustment which will comprehend the whole world of men and not merely the fractional groups of nationality. The call has come to every individual in the present age to prepare himself and his surroundings for this dawn of a new era when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual unity of all human beings.’”

And this is the message of India all along. India does not believe in the aforementioned ‘negative freedom’. India believes in absolute freedom – moksha for all of humanity, but in order for one to be able to attain that, one should first have material prosperity, security and opportunities which can only be created by a nation-state.

So, before one aspires to serve the universe as a global citizen, one needs to start at home – serve the family, the state and the country first. Charity begins at home. Loving and serving all of humanity is a great slogan and ideal, but it is a hypocritical expression if we fail to serve the ones who are closest to you. Unfortunately, India is still the hub of romantic and utopian ideologues of a ‘classless’ world! Hence for now, as far as the boundaries and walls around the country go – while the ultimate goal can be a borderless world,  the current Jihadist expansionism only necessitates strong borders, especially when  forces of terror are always trying to cross it to harm you! And those who cannot agree are free to cross to the other side of the border voluntarily.

And finally a reminder to some of the misguided youth of India:

To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom.” -Andre Gide – French Nobel laureate.

Free speech is free as long as it does not hurt the privileges of freedom itself. If free speech has imminent potential to harm people, national interests, such as security, unity and social harmony – then it has a price! If one cannot respect the flag, national song/anthem, or judicial system of a nation, one is free to leave and live in another fantasy dream land.  If some people have no sense of gratitude, reciprocity, self-commitment for progress of the land and the people, they belong to the culture of ingratitude and are parasites of society.

freedom of speech means a responsibility 1

Part 1: Meaning and scope of freedom

Part 2: Role of freedom, spirituality and dharma

Part 3: What is nationalism and patriotism?


Kanchan Banerjee

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