Context:

  • In the present day context, enforced cultural nationalism by the government will harm India in the long run.

Nationalism:

  • Nationalism is a range of political, social, and economic systems characterised by promoting the interests of a particular nation or ethnic group, particularly with the aim of gaining and maintaining self-governance, or full sovereignty, over the group’s homeland.

Nationalism and sedition:

  • Sedition laws were enacted around the 17th Century in England in a bid to protect the Crown and the State from any potential uprising.
  • The premise was that people could only have a good opinion of the government, and a bad opinion was detrimental to the functioning of the government and the monarchy.
  • It was subsequently introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1870.
  • Section 124-A in the Indian Penal Code, explains sedition in wide and magnanimous terms:
  • It says ‘Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India’ shall be punished with life imprisonment.’
  • It also says that comments that express strong disapproval of ‘the measures of the Government, with a view to obtain their desired modifications by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section.’
  • According to the section 124-A, comments expressing strong disapproval of the ‘administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offense under this section.’
  • Altogether, Sedition laws are found in the following laws in India:
  • the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 124 (A))
  • the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 95)
  • the Seditious Meetings Act, 1911 and
  • the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (Section 2 (o) (iii))

Current scenario of sedition:

  • We are in a situation today where any criticism of certain offices is branded as anti-national and sedition.
  • Actions like preventing people from eating the food they want or effectively forcing a life choice on the citizens undermine any feelings of nationalism and unity.
  • This is nothing but enforced cultural nationalism.
  • Be it lynching or beef ban, it is unimaginable to expect that a country as diverse as India can be expected to lead a homogenised existence, with a single ideology or monochromatic way of living, or a standard diet.

Examples of enforced nationalism in the country:

National anthem in cinema halls:

  • The Supreme Court’s decision to make cinema halls play the National Anthem before the start of any film show in 2016 cited the ‘love for motherland’ as a reason behind the mandate.
  • But it has opened up the debate on nationalism and its branding.
  • Besides, there is no such rule in any other institutions be it Parliament, police stations or for that matter courts of the country, including the Supreme Court.
  • In fact, across the globe, there is not even a single country where such a rule or law is in force, wherein you have to stand up for a national anthem ahead of a movie show.
  • Respect for the national flag or national anthem is an emotional feeling, which comes from within and cannot be enforced.

Mandatory singing of ‘Vande Mataram’

  • The Madras High Court has came out with its recent order that ‘Vande Mataram’ must be sung regularly in educational institutions and elsewhere, including workplaces like factories and offices.
  • The courts have failed to recognise that such actions of singing or standing up are now no longer genuine acts of nationalism. They have now become a performance.
  • People now sing or stand not because they truly respect the sentiment that these songs or poems convey, but because they are afraid of the law.

Military tank at JNU

  • There are recent reports of installing a military tank on the JNU campus to infuse nationalism in the students.
  • Enforced nationalism cannot promote true culture. People and cultures, regardless of belonging to a particular class or geography, can truly grow and evolve only if they can transcend all social and territorial limitations.

Suggestions:

  • Instead of enforced nationalism we need to create an environment in which the feeling of nationalism comes from within through visionary leaders, good governance and an inclusive harmonious environment in the country i.e inclusive nationalism.
  • Inclusive nationalism is the system of Nationalism which includes people of a different nationality to help the country reach its goals.
  • We need to evolve into a country that elicits nationalism and feeling of love from everyone residing in it.
  • It is time we followed the lead of modern constitutional democracies such as the United Kingdom, the US, and New Zealand who have severed anti-sedition laws from the law books.
  • Enforced nationalism cannot promote true culture.
  • When a culture is arbitrarily prescribed and foisted, freedom of the creative spirit of man disappears or is suppressed.

 

 

 

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