Nationhood and the Nationalism debate

The idea of a Nation-state though not much more than 200 years old is very much the norm in the world we live in today. Nations have a Constitution which define the structure and framework within which they function. But what has been the basis of Nationhood? In a majority of cases it is ethnicity and / or the sharing of a common language. In the rare case it has been religion. India though, has enough diversity represented by languages, dialects, castes, religions etc. to constitute an entire continent!! What it derives its Nationhood from is its history as a civilisation. Its diversity makes it rich but also vulnerable. Not only has she been partitioned once (though before her formal Nationhood), but what has happened in Kashmir, Punjab, Assam and the North east since independence isn’t distant history. These happenings aren’t just illustrations of her soft underbelly, but also a reminder that there are sufficient forces prepared to exploit it. What a section of the Left has been doing for a number of years in the JNU and what Owaisi has done by raising the ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ controversy has that one common strand. They are using Freedom of Speech as a right under the Constitution to challenge the fundamental basis of India’s Nationhood. The Indian State can certainly function more efficiently and more justly under the Constitution. Many lessons have been learnt and many will be learned in time to come, but no Right can be exploited to challenge its very existence. The Freedom of Speech argument in this instance is spurious and its juxtaposition with Nationalism is nothing short of sinister.

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