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The Nationalist Certificate: The Idea Of Nation And Constitutional Morality

By Asang Wankhede

20 February, 2016

The similarity of the core of the recent controversies is baffling, yet a well known and ignored one. Late Rohith Vemula was branded as an anti-nationalist, and Mr. Kanahiya Kumar now joins the league of human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, writer and activist Arundhati Roy, and cartoonist Assem Trivedi, among others. Another similarity is with the fact that these sedition charges failed the test of judicial scrutiny and hence the ‘anti-nationalist’ accuseds were acquitted.

At the behest let’s get the proposition clear. The sedition law in India is draconian and ample caution requires to be followed while making any arrest, as the recent judicial interpretation of section 124A of the IPC, 1860 requires actual violent actions which endangers the security of the country. The law is settled that if the expression is non-violent then one must be allowed to express her/his disaffection towards the system. The abuse of equality before the law is evident from the vehemence exercised by the government and the erstwhile ruling parties, as on the one hand young students and human rights activities are sent behind bars for ‘Desh-Doha’ and on the other hand on January 26, 2016 Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha successfully observed ‘Black Day’ and hoisted the black flag for the 51st year since the formation of Indian republic. “Manu rules our hearts” stated ‘the Organizer’ mouthpiece of RSS. Were they convicted? No. Time and again attempts have been made by the Manuwadi forces to establish and reassert their conception of ‘Hindu Rastra’ and time and again they have failed. However, the new strategy so adopted has been intrinsic and quite assertive.

Silent Emergency

The major difference between the Emergency period (1975-77) and the present state of emergency is that of the hidden and silent nature of the latter. Disillusioned by the failed development agenda, ‘Make in India’ and other globalised products, Majority of Indians stand ignorant of the changing state in India. The on-going events are reminiscent of the Emergency period, when people are picked up, slapped with ‘manufactured’ and ‘false’ charges and where dissent and criticism are suppressed. The alleged speech of Kanahiya Kumar a day before his arrest makes clear his patriotism and love for the country where there is no hinge of anti-nationalism. He said, “Friends, the situation is very serious. Under no circumstances does the JNUSU (the JNU students' union) support any violence, any terrorist, any terror incident and any anti-India activity. I want to reiterate that the JNUSU strongly condemns slogans of "Pakistan Zindabad" raised by some unidentified people.”As evidence state, it was the ABVP activist who shouted anti-nationalist slogans, why are they not in the lock up?

Your Idea of Hindustan and Our idea of Bharat?

RSS is testing the currents and the counter currents of the Indian society. The cultural conflict which exists in contemporary India is the upshot and the manifestation of the grinding of socioeconomic and cultural fault lines in the country. The proponents of the Hindu Raj and preachers of Manusmriti have a different conception of India, the nationalism and the constitution, than the preachers of constitutional morality.

The separate conceptions of the identity of the nation lay in the bedrock of cultural conflict, where the constant attempts of superimposition of Hindu cultural expositions, caste, social norms have made harmonious spaces hostile. The development of the leftist, Ambedkarite and social reformist politics and movement is a direct confrontation of the idea of Hindu nationalism and a hungry attempt to replace our constitution with their Manusmriti. Their certificate of nationalist will be a counterfeit expression of Indian nationalism, and will render the endorsers of the same as the real anti-nationals.

Bharat on the other hand is a cherished idea by the constitutional framers based on the idea of constitutional morality and equal respect for all religions, customs, culture, race, caste and gender. Anti-nationalist idea cannot erupt in the hearts and conscious of individuals who embrace the constitution and strive towards achieving its objectives. Mr. Kanahiya Kumar is not an anti-nationalist and so aren’t the people of Bharat, who strive hard to observe constitutional morality. Hence, the clash between these two significant currents within the society tilts in Favour of the constitutional dictum, which mandates liberty, equality, and fraternity. However, the text of constitution in itself does not initiate change in a society. The preachers of Manusmriti and Hindu Rastra negate constitution, its mandate and openly renounce being bound by it. The conflict between the personal ‘adulterated’ conception of morality and an absolutist Hindu nationalist sentiment and the constitutional mandate, has nurtured animosity and hatred towards fellow Indians and constitution in itself. Self-empowerment of Dalits, oppressed and marginalized sections of Indian society is a direct threat to the idea of their nationalism, and hence is equivocally opposed and suppressed by the Sanghi forces and the government.

If we bring our personal conception of morality in harmony with constitutional morality 'we the people' will observe the growth in social solidarity and peace. In Dr. Ambedkar’s words “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it.”

Self-defence is a highest virtue of Mankind. Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest requires us to adopt measures of self defence within the constitutional framework. The assault on the identity of the oppressed and denial of the means of existences makes us liable to act against perpetrators. Methods of self-defence must be employed against any type of physical assault and social discrimination. The proviso to this statement the constitutional mandate and three warnings given by Dr. Ambedkar’s in his speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949. They are i) “abandon the bloody methods of revolution”, ii) “give up Hero-worship and iii) “strive for social democracy.” Harmonious construction of methods of self defence and the constitutional morality will ensure Social endosmosis in the society, where we conceive and nourish constitution as the fundamental text to guide our actions and inactions and the upbringings of our consciousness.

Jai Bharat! Jai Bhim!

Asang Wankhede , 5th Year, B.A. LL.B.(Hons.) National Law University, Delhi



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