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Freedom/Democracy vs. Nationalism


The present article has a reference to the month-long lecture series held at Pune from 17th Feb to 17th March 2016, immediately after the provocative and downright anti-national events that occurred in JNU on 16th Feb 2016. The lecture series was planned immediately after that event as a matter of the Left’s strategy to denigrate everything that India stands for, including its nationalism. Eminent thinkers (?) from all over India delivered these lectures. It has now been compiled and published under the title “What The Nation Really Needs To Know” by Harper Collins in 2017 with an objective to bring it to the centre-stage discussion on the concepts like nation, nationality, nationalism and ‘Rashtravad’.

Nobody talks about such issues in western countries. Their nationality and as a result their social structures are well settled and they exhibit nationalism in many different ways like by dominating other nations in the world to the extent possible. In such a case they can afford extreme freedoms to their odd citizens. The vast majority there remains patriotic to its core. The insignificant minority can thus be handled there legally. Their free media cuts such extreme freedoms to size in the interest of the nation. The case is quite different in India particularly when it is divided vertically on the issue of nationality and only one side is dominantly projected by the biased media, pushing the contrary view aside. It suits those who copy everything western in India to insist on granting extreme freedom while the biased media supporting the same. That is why the tussle between the forces of so-called freedom/democracy(?) and the nationalists is seen at many different levels throughout India.

It is unfortunate that the debate on freedom has not yet reached broadly the acceptable level in India. It still remains divided into two extremes. The main focus of the discussion is on “freedom/democracy vs. nationalism”. To say the least and equally, unfortunately, the subject starts with the presumption that the two concepts are fundamentally anathema to each other. It suits the Left intellectuals, but is it really so? It is not a new debate. It has been going on since independence. On the one side are these westernised Left intellectuals and the on the other is the RSS-pariwar. They represent two views that may never meet to understand each other. The alternative is to denigrate the other, more by the Left of the RSS-pariwar since media favours them.

There is no harm in continuing the debate on freedom/democracy vs. nationalism. Where does the freedom for breaking India come in? The history of Left betrays the truth that they do not believe in the nation. Hence breaking any nation troubles them least. The entire objection of the nationalists is to granting freedom to express their desire for breaking India. Should vow to break India be considered as freedom of expression? This is the crux of the contention. In this debate, the Left intelligently avoids the direct and unambiguous answer to this simple question for reasons best known to them.

Fundamental values

Democracy is a way by which the societies almost all over the world are managed and rightly so, in modern times. It is based on values like liberty, equality and fraternity, that arose out of French Revolution and that were accepted as the basis of setting up new nation-states in Europe. It is true that the earlier West European kingdoms thus transformed themselves into democratic nation-states based on these values. They did not set aside in any way nationalism in favour of freedom. They remained true nationalists and champions of freedom at home and yet tried to enslave other societies in the world, in their national interests, to the extent possible for their own benefits, disregarding freedom as a value. This is not copied by the Left intellectuals in India; they copy the things selectively as it suits their main agenda. The European nation-states did not find any dichotomy in freedom at home and enslaving other societies in the world. It is because the ‘state’ dominated their lives more than the national values enshrined in their constitutions.

The same values were accepted as the basis of building India after independence. However, in India, two more values were added later to this list to ensure progress of the individual and the society as a whole. These are ‘secularism’ and ‘socialism’ though nobody knows their exact meanings. As a result, any action of any individual or a group can be camouflaged as secular and socialistic while damning the same propounded by others. This flaw is used by the Left intellectuals cunningly in their favour. No wonder much of the behaviour of political leaders in India is devoid of these values. Mahatma Gandhi had insisted on ‘truth’ and ‘non-violence’, the two Hindu values, as a benchmark of behaviour at the social level, more than the above ones, though these were not explicitly included in the constitution. These are supposed to be implicit in it. There is no mention of nation, nationalism, nationalist, rashtravad, etc. in the constitution.

The democratic set up based on the constitution ensures and safeguards liberty and equality at the individual level. Secularism and socialism, if followed in the true sense, can ensure fraternity and thereby national integrity – a pre-condition for the progress of all. But how will democratic set-up and freedom of expression ensure national integrity? Nobody in reality, much less the Left, has the answer. Hence, freedom and democracy as guaranteed by the constitution are cleverly used as a shield to protect anti-national acts of the Left. Liberty is an individual quality and is safeguarded by the constitution.

The qualities like equality, fraternity, non-violence, truth, socialism and secularism are seen only in the form of group or social behaviour essential to living as a democratic society. These values may thus lead to establishing peaceful and disciplined society facilitating the progress of all. It can only be achieved by consolidation of the Indian society and national integrity. Nationalism (allegedly as rashtravad by the Left) is its outward expression. Cultivation of nationalism is thus pre-condition of progress for all. That is how the developed nations have progressed in the past and are progressing currently. Hence, insistence on nationalism, avoiding fissiparous tendencies in all its forms, needs to be cultivated. But it has become a fashion to denigrate nationalism by equating it with many different aberrations that occurred in some of the nations of Europe earlier, more as exceptions and not as a rule. It is unscrupulously used by the Left to hammer the right. How will society be consolidated and integrated insisting on unrestricted freedom of expression? Not knowing the legitimate limits of freedom of expression it is taken to its extreme. It is, in fact, challenging the very idea of India. Is it so in any western nations? It is leading to fissiparous tendencies in reality in India. The very future of India thus is at stake. The Left intellectuals are not worried about the integrity of the nation. Given a chance many of them would like India to be merged with China or Russia as their parts. Hence, insistence on only one aspect, that is freedom, while disregarding the other values is a clever ploy of Leftists aimed at disintegrating India. It will be a lop-sided democracy wherein fissiparous tendencies will be let loose under the garb of freedom. This is precisely the state of affairs presently in India. Hence, what the ‘nation really needs to know’ is how freedom/democracy is going to integrate India. It will thus decide the limits of freedom/democracy in the interest of furthering national integration.

Freedom for disintegration

How can freedom even to the extent of preaching disintegration of India be justified in the name of democracy? How can a known anti-national Umar Khalid of JNU be invited to enlighten the students at Ramjas College? Was he expected to preach building India in his speech? Whom are the student organisers of Ramjas College befooling? Those who support JNU, or recently the Ramjas College incidents need to explain how the fissiparous expressions preached there can lead to consolidation of democracy in India. Will it not disintegrate India? Can freedom of expression, in the garb of democracy be allowed to preach breaking India? It is the recipe paving the way for the disintegration of India for sure. It is tantamount to shattering the dream of Sardar Patel in unifying India in the modern sense.

The problems in the form of Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Khalistan and the like are potential dangers to the integrity of India. Some of the speakers at the above meet at Pune are known to favour these fissiparous groups openly in the name of freedom. How can such freedom be allowed to them? Obviously, they are bound to be opposed by the nationalists who have the interest in integrating India in tune with time. Those who are out to disintegrate India deliberately give a bad name to nationalism and nationalists by calling them as anti-democratic.

The Leftists are good at such tactics of calling the dog first mad and then killing it later. Will we allow these on the basis of freedom of expressions to any extent, including destroying national integrity? The nationalist, more vociferously represented by the RSS-Pariwar, would like to curtail this unrestricted freedom by not allowing freedom to preach national disintegration. Can it be construed as the action against democracy? The constitution does not allow unrestricted freedom. It allows freedom of expression only under certain restraints. Why then such a hue and cry over the opposition to such perverted expression of freedom?

No value is considered good in its extreme, much less for the society. Social life is a balance between such counteracting social forces. Let it be understood that those who preach freedom in its extreme specifically intend to disintegrate India and intend destroying the social fabric here with some ulterior motive. The protagonists of such freedoms must answer this question.

Hindu perception     

In the Hindu perception and truthfully so, the human being exists integrally at the individual as well as at the social level. He does not exist only as an individual to claim extreme freedom at the detriment of social good. It is a person who simultaneously exists as a father of someone, husband of someone, brother of someone and so on and yet he remains the same. There is no dichotomy in this relationship. The Hindu perception is very clear about the individual freedom and social welfare.

Guruji Golwalkar, the second RSS chief, is on record to have said that the social well-being – feeling of the fraternity or the well-being of the society – must not be obscured at any time in preference to individuality on any account. Many Left intellectuals consider it as a frightening vision because individual freedom in its extreme is what is insisted upon by them. This is particularly when the Leftists have a history of denying any freedom to the people under the Left rule.

When the society is well integrated, aware of its mission at the international level, readily facilitates the progress of individuals, conscious of its own destiny and so on, it can allow the fair bit of freedom to its citizens even to the extent of preaching breaking itself by a few odd extreme people. That extreme situation is taken care of by the media, the law and the opposing intellectuals.

The situation in India is different. It has yet to attain such maturity by consolidating itself as a modern nation. The delay in achieving it is courtesy of Left forces. At such a stage how can fissiparous tendencies be allowed you hindered? Its very existence shall be at stake.

The Left intellectuals stand by the side of Maoist and Naxalites who are out to destroy the unity of India. How can freedom be safeguarded to plead their cases?

Social structure       

Any social structure must take into account the true nature of human being and facilitate his progress for ultimately making him happy. Nobody in the world except the Hindus has understood the fundamental nature and aspirations of humans that make him feel happy. He must be made happy at the individual as well as at the social level. According to the famous American philosopher-cum-journalist Walter Lippmann of the previous century, no human can be happy unless he is contained in the discipline of social existence. The same was propounded long ago by Hindus in the form of integral existence of humans as an individual as well as society.

It also insisted that if the preference is to be given then social interests shall have precedence over individual interests. Hence, preaching of extreme individual freedom at the cost of social interests is always detrimental to the society and is not approved by Hindus. The nearest equivalent of social interests is represented by national interests and in a country like India which is now in the process of consolidation in the modern sense it is truer.  Emphasis on nationalism and nationality thus becomes a matter of priority over individual freedoms even within the democratic setup. Quite naturally the individual and social needs were never felt as anathema to each other in India as was perceived in the west.  The present debate as originated from JNU incident has something to do with the dichotomy of social and individual interests in making him happy.

Perils of individuality in its extreme

If freedom in its extreme, under the guise of a democratic set-up, is allowed then who will worry about the environmental damages done in achieving individual interests? How will exploitation of the poor by the rich be controlled? Who will design developmental plans for social uplift of the poor? It has to be tackled with the priority of social interests. In the increasingly globalised world, the scope of individual interests is continuously decreasing and is getting replaced more and more by a group or social/national interests finally culminating in human interests. Individuals have to fall in line to subserve these broad interests. Individual freedom can then be allowed only in the narrow areas. Pleading for extreme individual freedom is out of tune with time. Freedom to plead social interests is most welcome.

Extreme individuality disregarding social interests has given rise to corruption in India in its extreme. Where is the motivation and inspiration to work for society unless social interests are at the centre-stage? In its absence, people will strive for selfish ends to meet. Where will be the freedom and democracy then? If social awareness in the form of nationalism is cultivated there is a chance to abate corruption. Will the Left intellectuals still plead for extreme freedom?

It is alleged that emphasis on societal welfare in preference to individual freedom has led to tyranny by the kings in the past or evolution of Nazism and Fascism in Europe. These are not only exceptions but aberrations and not the rule to prove or disprove the overriding importance of either.

Nation vs.nation-state 

Any discussion in trying to define the concepts like nation, nationality, nationalism, rashtravad, etc. particularly in India, must start with the discussion on ‘nation’ as distinct from ‘nation-state’ to understand it properly. The pity is that the Left intellectuals do not believe in this distinction. In other words, it must distinguish state from a nation and not confuse them up as a nation-state.

The state is a political association controlled and dictated by laws or constitution as is normally believed. But it is not supreme as the Left and westernised intellectuals would like us to believe. The nation is merely a feeling of oneness grown out of past association and future aspirations. Besides, how and where from will the commitment to follow constitution come from? It can come only from common aspirations. How will pleading for extreme and probably diverse perceptions of freedom result in common aspiration? A common desire to live together is the fundamental requirement. That is what nationalism is. Where will the common desire to live together come from? It is not realised in a day or overnight. It has to be cultivated consciously in the form of nationalism over a long period. It has to have a common history behind with the perception of the common friend or foe and bright future prospects, hence, the desire to live together. How Omar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar of JNU, who swear to break India, would have common feelings to live together with most others? It is not produced by having just a constitution. Otherwise, it would have been produced in both of them long ago.

A state can be so formed and administered under the dictation of some ruthless leader. There are examples to prove it. Imposition of emergency is its glaring example. Where will be the freedom for the likes of Khalid and Kanahaiya then come from? It was so in Soviet Union, China and many other nation-states earlier. Hence, a state is a legal association as quoted by political scientist like Ernest Baker. It may give rise to the nation later. But this is exactly set aside by the Left intellectuals deliberately to transplant a new nation-state here. The nation is a product of common bond of brotherhood. The new nation can only be a nation-state. Hence, they made it so under Prime Minister Nehru’s leadership.

If the concept of nation is missed, inadvertently or deliberately, the discussion shall be, to say the least, incomplete. The evolution of nation-states in Western Europe had the foundation of earlier integrated social life confined to the respective kingdoms. It provided the nationalism required for a nation-state to flourish. Otherwise, there was no reason to evolve so many different nation-states in Western Europe. As per the logic of Left intellectuals, it should have been one single nation-state of at least the Western Europe, but it is not so. Hindu culture and civilisation formed the foundation of integrated society in India. India then consisted of many states. As per the Left’s perception, there should have been several nation-states in India. In fact, that was their original aim. But the integrated desire of Indians prevailed. It became one on the basis of the age-old integrated cultural life of Hindus crossing the kingdom boundaries. To call it a nation-state is, to say the least, the intellectual bankruptcy with vested interests bent upon denigrating the lofty culture and civilisation of Hindus. There is no nation on earth which has such an uninterrupted treasure of wisdom at their back to thinking about the welfare of human societies in the present.

True national feelings were intact during the independence movement. Those who led it always stressed that they would like to usher in “Ram Rajya” after independence. Was “Ram Rajya” a nation-state? It was the cultural nationhood of Hindus that was to be re-established. If it was not the case why Sardar Patel renovated the Sorathi Somnath temple immediately after independence? It was inaugurated by the then Rashtrapati Dr Rajendra Prasad, in deference to the wishes of Prime Minister Nehru who was to the core westernised. Dr Prasad is on record to have then said that it removed the blot of slavery of India for twelve hundred years. Whose slavery and by whom was he talking about? The Left elite must offer an explanation on such issues while discussing nationalism.


The Left is used to offer strange logic to prove that India was never a nation and the British made them into one nation. In proof thereof, they site infighting kingdoms all through the Indian history. But they do not admit that still there was the underlying cultural unity that made people take pilgrimage all over India. They also plead that Indians realised their nationhood after the British started exploiting them. Hence, Indian nationhood is based on political and economic parameters alone. They ceaselessly criticise and belittle the past achievements of Hindus. They demean the cultural empire of Hindus all over the south-east Asia. They deny that India was once spiritual leader as “Jagadguru” of the mankind and was referred to as “Golden Land” in the world on the material front.

A very strange logic is offered by many that Hindus always believed in the unity of humans as brothers in the form of their proclamation “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”. Where is the perception of a nation in it, they ask? This is, to say the least, is intellectual bankruptcy. Such a stage will be the ideal end if all humans follow the Hindu perceptions. Until then Hindus will have to live as a nation safeguarding the seeds of human integration in the form of Hindu culture. They lived it like that and fought a total of seven major invaders and still maintained themselves.

When Hindus were so denigrated they rose in the revolt by asserting that they had made all the progress earlier since times immemorial. To oppose all the nonsense of Left intellectuals a new one-word phrase, for media purposes, was coined to indicate what the real Hindus wanted to plead. It is referred to by the media as ‘rashtrawad’ of Hindus. It does not mean something very codified, rigid and clear. In reality, there is nothing like rashtravad of Hindus. It broadly means the perceptions of nationalist forces in India. The Left denigrated it as a worst ism. It is the epicentre of the struggle between Left intellectuals and the Hindus.

Epicentre of dispute

The epicentre of conflict between the Left intellectuals on the one hand and the Hindu nationalists, on the other hand, is the perception of freedom of India. The Left believes that a new nation was formed on 15th August 1947 as “India that is Bharat” dissociating it from all its earlier links with the past history as nothing but myth whereas the RSS-Pariwar believes that India has been a nation all along throughout its entire history with enough of national integration as was possible in those days of scarcity of communication and transport. The Left, therefore, pleads that India is a multicultural society and nation whereas the RSS-Pariwar vehemently asserts that it is the Hindu culture that pervades all through and many other streams might have been assimilated in it to keep it yet the same original stream as river Ganga remains the same even after assimilating many even big rivers.

It follows that the concept of India was not evolved out of reaction to British, but it has been only reasserted. It is not political or economic perception as was more dominantly present while evolving nation-states in Europe. It is purely a cultural perception based on its uninterrupted history of assertion against all odds. The Left asserts that humanitarian outlook is larger than national outlook. The RSS-Pariwar believes that internationalism or true humanitarian outlook shall be possible only if it is based on Hindu perception of human life and the aspirations and motivations resulting therefrom.


In order to understand the assertion of Hindus and the debate that is currently going on between Left forces and the nationalist Hindus, a deeper understanding of the problem is required or else one may get swayed by the hollow but flowery presentation of the Left.

The ISIS has finally reached India as is clear from the encounter with terrorist at Lucknow on 8th March 2017. Such dangers will not be faced by freedom and democratic values. It will be faced only by strong nationalism and the emotional unity arising out of it for preserving our own values.

By Dr. R. H. Tupkary

Courtesy: NewsBharati