This refers to the article “Was Indian nationalism inclusive?” (Feb. 23). The euphoria of Indian nationalism, a result of an anti-colonial movement that led to Independence in 1947, had a mainstream view of the Indian identity. Even 60 years after Independence, it remains well entrenched. The methods used to instil fear among the excluded groups — Dalits, tribals, Christians and Muslims — are nothing short of fascist. They endorse the use of violence.
Millions of Indians are proud of being Indians, just as they are proud of being Tamilians, Maharashtrians, Bengalis, or Punjabis. But nationalism is not bound in concrete. It can and does change over time. Unless a strong secular stand is taken and social equality guaranteed, the idea of Indian nationalism will remain a distant dream.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar underlined the importance of social inclusiveness by envisaging a society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. Social inclusiveness should have gone hand-in-hand with the nationalist struggle. Had this happened, the marginalised sections would have been equal partners in nation-building.
Our leaders struggled to create a social and economic democracy along with political democracy.
But the lack of inculcation of such sentiments during the historical era resulted in the growth of divisive forces, which threaten to break the nation.
The political ambition of the national movement was realised when India became Independent. However, the much larger goal of establishing an all-inclusive, secular and co-operative society has been forgotten. Much of it is due to the dichotomy of “cultural nationalism,” seen in post-Independent India.
Most of the cultural nationalist movements were either indirectly influenced by the reactionary conceptualisation of ‘nationhood' in the post-Partition era or directly came under the ambit of the narrow definition of Hindutva fundamentalism.
The failure to achieve social inclusiveness can be traced to the early days of Independence when the two political achievements — of winning independence and creating a voluminous constitutional literature — made an amateur polity largely complacent to the much-needed activism in the development of inclusive social thought.