The Constitution of India faces a grave threat from nationalism propagated in the name of religion, scholar Ram Puniyani has said.
He was delivering the Pinto Memorial Lecture on ‘Challenges to Indian nationalism’ on Thursday to mark the 13th death anniversary of writer-doctor C. Pinto.
Dr. Puniyani said that the country was in the midst of an undeclared Emergency with the emergence of fascist tendencies.
“Comparisons were made between Adolf Hitler’s brand of fascism and Emergency. However, elements of Hitler’s fascism that were not seen during the Emergency have been seeping into Indian society in recent times,” he said.
Seeking to draw parallels, he said that corporate powers were being encouraged in the country and the rights of the working class were being trampled upon.
The country also witnessed growth of ultra nationalism and increased hostility towards neighbouring countries.
“While we associated Indian nationalism with the Constitution, democracy, values of social justice, liberty and equality, certain sections of society have begun to project nationalism as closely related to one’s faith. Many have begun to prove their patriotism by targeting religious minorities. This is a phenomenon that has become common among the South Asian countries over the years,” Dr. Puniyani said.
Dr. Puniyani was highly critical of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for allegedly demanding the scrapping of the Indian Constitution and replacing it with one based on ancient Hindu scriptures.
They have sought to portray the Constitution as “western” as it was modern and promoted individual liberty, he said.
He lamented that the achievements of the Freedom Movement were being undermined by issues created in the name of identity.
“Efforts are being made to incite various groups among themselves. Those who vouched for democracy should unite to protect the Constitution, and highlight the basic issues of society related to survival, employment, health and food. The propaganda of hatred against communities should be neglected,” he said.
Kerala State Council for Child Welfare general secretary S.P. Deepak presided. CPI (M) State secretariat member K.N. Balagopal and programme convener T.S. Vinod spoke.