Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nation and state: article published in Organizer weekly

> Opinion : Synchronism of Confusion and Prejudice
> Intro: This article is a response to the article written by Prof
> Ashutosh Varshney 'Modi's Ambivalence' in The Indian Express on June
> 28, 2014. It could not be published in The Indian Express, it was sent
> to Organiser weekly. 
> Hinduism is a common-wealth of many religion, therefore all are
> welcome under this umbrella.
> I read with interest Shri Ashutosh Varshney's article published. The
> article suffers from two maladies. One is the confused thinking about
> the two concepts of Nation and State. And other is the prejudices
> about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). I will not here, address
> the latter malady and confine myself to the former.
> Secular Nationalist?
> Shri Varshney has used the term 'secular nationalist'. I want to ask
> whether there can be secular nationalism. I not only admit but
> emphatically say that the State is secular, nay it should and must be
> secular. The State deals with things that can be called this-worldly.
> It need not be concerned with spiritualism or any other worldly
> matters.
> 'State' and 'Nation'
> Though 'state' and 'nation' are inter-related, they are basically
> different in spirit and content. In one 'state' there can be many
> 'nations', as we saw in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
> till 1985. And there can be many 'states' in one 'nation', as we know
> from the history of ancient India. To give an example, in the 6th
> century, to the north of the river Narmada, there was a Kingdom of
> Harshvardhan that is a different state. While to the south there was
> the rule of Pulakeshi, meaning another state.
> Meaning of State
> State is a political association. I will like to quote Ernest Baker, a
> French author. He says, "The State is a legal association: a
> 'juridically organised nation, or a nation organised for action under
> legal rules'. It exists for law: it exists in and through law: we may
> even say that it exists as law. The essence of the State is a living
> body of effective rules; and in that sense the State is law."
> (Principles of Social and Political Theory, page 89)
> The State to exist requires the physical force to enforce its laws,
> without which the laws will not be effective.
> Meaning of Nation
> Nation is a different existence. People are the nation. There are
> three main factors that determine a 'nation'.
> 1) One is Peoples' sentiment about the land where they live. Do they
> consider it just a piece of land, an inanimate entity? Or do they
> regard it as their motherland? Once people regard it as their
> motherland, their relation with the land changes. Then it does not
> remain an insentient, lifeless existence. Then they are proud to
> pronounce 'Vande Mataram'.
> 2) People's attachment to their history and therefore to their
> forefathers. History may contain episodes of both joy and victory as
> well as of shame and disgrace.
> 3) And the most important are their standards of judging well from
> evil i.e. their value-system i.e. their culture.
> Again I am quoting Ernest Renan. He says, "The soil provides the
> substratum, the field for struggle and labour, man provides the soul.
> Nothing that is material suffices here. A nation is a spiritual
> principle, the result of the intricate workings of history, a
> spiritual family and not a group determined by the configuration of
> the earth." He adds "Two things which are really one go to make this
> soul or spiritual principle. One of these things lies in the past, the
> other in the present. The one is the possession in common of a rich
> heritage of memories and the other is actual agreement, the desire to
> live together and the will to make the most of the joint
> inheritance..........
> To share the glories of the past, and a common will in the present, to
> have done great good deeds together and to desire to do more - these
> are essential conditions of a people's being. Love is in proportion to
> the sacrifice one has made and the evils one has borne."
> In our country the name of these people is Hindu. Therefore, this is a
> Hindu nation. It has nothing to do whether you are a theist or an
> atheist, whether you are an idol-worshipper or you are against
> idol-worship.
> Dharma and Religion
> Hindu in a spiritual sense is 'dharma'. Dharma has a very wide
> connotation. In English language there is no adequate equivalent for
> 'dharma.' Religion is only a part of 'dharma'. Dr S Radhakrishnan has
> aptly observed, "Hinduism is not a religion; it is a common-wealth of
> many religions." Therefore opponents of idol-worship like Arya
> Samajists, or those who do not accept the final authority of the Vedas
> like Jains and Buddhists are included in the umbrella of Hinduism.
> This is evident from the explanation No. 2 appended to article 25 of
> our Constitution, and also from the applicability of Hindu Code bill
> to Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. Mark the words "Hindu Code Bill"
> Christians and Muslims are also welcome under this umbrella, if they
> accept Bharat i.e. Hindusthan as their motherland and accept the
> value-system that appreciates the plurality of faiths, religions and
> thoughts. Hindu is a 'dharma' and 'dharma' has a very wide
> connotation.
> An Example
> I am tempted to cite an example in my life. It took place in 1956. I
> was a teacher in a Christian college in Nagpur. My identity as a RSS
> activist was known to all.
> A senior Christian teacher, who was about two decades older than me,
> asked me, in a discussion, whether he can become a member of the RSS.
> I said, "Yes."
> He asked, "What shall I have to do?" I said, "You need not to leave
> your Church or your Holy Bible." I did not fail to observe symptoms of
> surprise writ large on his face. I added, "But Sir, you have to accept
> the validity of other faiths and beliefs." He
> immediately replied, "I cannot accept it. If I accept it, I will not
> be able to propagate my religion." I said, "Then you cannot become a
> member of the RSS."
> Now about State, as earlier emphasised the State has to be secular,
> because it deals with mundane matters. There should not be an official
> state religion. People should be free to follow their religious
> pursuits.
> What is Secular?
> An individual need not be secular. Only an ardent atheist like Charvak
> can be secular. Secularism is the quality of a State, not of an
> individual, nor of the people.
> Our State was secular from the very beginning. It did not become
> 'secular' after constitutional amendment in 1976 that inserted the
> word 'secular' in the preamble was made. But the behavior of our
> political leaders that were elected to run the affairs of the state
> was anti-secular in the sense that they did not behave equally with
> all the sects. For their petty political ends they favoured certain
> religious groups, so much so that they could not enact a common civil
> law.
> The Reason for Democratic Polity
> Just consider why a state in India that is Bharat is secular and not
> in Pakistan or Bangladesh. I am purposely referring to these two
> states because just 67 years ago they were parts of Hindusthan. I am
> avoiding naming other states in the western side of our country. The
> reason is, in India i.e. Bharat, Hindus are in majority. For this
> reason alone, we have almost an uninterrupted functioning of democracy
> in our country.
> The RSS honors Mahatma Gandhi. His name is included in the daily
> morning recitation of all such names that have brought glory to this
> land. But Mahatma Gandhi too committed a blunder by agreeing to the
> partition of the motherland on the basis of religion. That was the
> most anti-secular misstep that caused indescribable carnage and
> eradicate of millions of innocent people. If this inclusive character
> of the Hindu people, I mean Hindu nation, is understood, no religion,
> no faith can feel danger to their existence and their rites and
> rituals. That has been a glorious tradition of all Hindu kings and
> dynasties.
> -MG Vaidya(The writer is a senior journalist and eminent thinker)

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