The country is facing an information warfare offensive designed to weaken the very idea of India and splinter it along caste and creed faultlines. A large number of NGOs, media houses and human rights lawyers bankrolled by foreign intelligence agencies are apparently behind this well orchestrated campaign. A “Prague spring” is being unleashed in some Indian universities, which is being openly supported by vocal sections in our media. As Rajeev Malhotra writes in his book, Breaking India, a number of western think-tanks have been promoting the “Afro-Dalit” faultlines to splinter India. Maps of India with these faultlines are displayed prominently in their offices. These faultlines are being used to fuel Maoist violence and construct new narratives to splinter this country by using a new cocktail of caste and regional separatism in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere. The aim is to paint patriotism and nationalism as a lumpen trait. The leftist-Maoist plot to overthrow the state involves: * Massive support to separatist movements, especially jihadi separatism in J&K and Northeast. * Manufacturing Afro-Dalit faultlines to splinter the country using caste faultlines and creating alliance structures of jihadi separartism and tribal angst in Maoist affected areas. * Destroying the pan-Indian identity by attacking patriotism and nationalism and going after symbols of national unity like the national flag and nationalist slogans like “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
In March this year, these faultlines flowed into our campuses in a major way, first in Hyderabad, and then in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and in Kolkata’s Jadavpur University. The use of the Afro-Dalit narrative as a basis of separatism was highlighted by the deliberate deification of Mahishasur in Hyderabad and the veiled attack on the “Aryan Goddess Durga”, who is the demon slayer. A shrill, orchestrated debate has been unleashed all over the country by some sections of the Indian media, decrying Indian nationalism as a lumpen trait. It seeks to glorify the Maoist ideology of a violent overthrow of the “repressive, Manuwadi/Samantwadi” Indian state and flaunts its alliance with every single separatist movement in India that will support the break-up of India. Vociferous support has been expressed in particular for Kashmiri separatism. In fact, every separatist movement that could splinter and weaken India has been stridently supported under the cloak of “free speech”. In JNU, speech that sought to provoke violence and fell under the ambit of sedition was portrayed by the media as “innocent slogans” by students. It was said that any action taken against them would be violation of the right to free speech. As some JNU professors lectured the country on nationalism, sections of the media broadcast these tutorials on nationalism across the country. In essence, they demanded that India must respect the rights of separatists in J&K, Nagaland and Manipur to secede from the union. India, this narrative emphasises, is an evolving nation state and hence must respect the right of its various nationalities to opt out whenever they so chose. India, in this strange narrative, is obliged to break itself up and accept periodic alterations of its boundaries to cater for every separatist sentiment, home-grown or instigated from outside.
Forgotten in the din over free speech and sedition was Article 51A, which enshrines the duties of a citizen. These include, inter alia, a respect for its ideals and institutions and the National Flag and National Anthem. It specifies the duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India, which is being undermined in some of our universities, with support from a section of the media.
Since the very concept of the nation is now being questioned, it is pertinent to debate the issue in greater detail. Steven Crosby, Professor at Clemson University, South Carolina, United States, writes, “A nation state is a community of nativity. One is born into a nation. A nation state is characterized by the extent of its territory and its relatively uniform culture and values that provide stability and continuation over time.” A nation, therefore, has two key components: the people and a clearly defined territory. A great deal of the self is invested into this territory. National borders have sanctity and cannot be crossed with impunity. Armed transgressions across borders can lead to wars.
That is why one is born into a nation state. The fact of birth within its territory confers citizenship. Barack Obama could not have been the US President if he was not born in Hawaii. The territory of a nation is therefore sacred. Arms and legs cannot be chopped off at will from this body politik, just to please Comrade Kanhaiya Kumar. So unlike the JNU tutorials, a nation state is not just the people on a railway platform who can walk in and out at will. Ernest Renan, the French scholar, states that a nation implies a bounded, territorial community of customs and laws. It is the duty of every Indian citizen (as enshrined in the Constitution) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of this state, something that Comrades Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid are seeking to destroy and deconstruct.
Sedition, we are told, is an outmoded law. It was used in British colonial times. We do not need it any longer. What does this argument imply? That we have been empowered to destroy the nation state? The British colonial state never faced such levels of armed violence. It only faced a non-violent, civil disobedience movement. Post Independence, India has faced very violent armed insurgencies and vicious terrorist movements, in which over 80,000 Indian citizens have been killed. In J&K alone, Indian Army has recovered over 80,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, over 3,000 machineguns and 1,500 rocket launchers, with millions of rounds of ammunition and thousands of grenades sent in from Pakistan. We cannot afford to weaken our laws to face such unprecedented armed violence. Yes, we are free today, but no one can interpret this freedom as licence to break up this country, which our Comrade Kanhaiyas and some JNU professors are asking for in the name of free speech. There seems to be an orchestrated assault upon our will and means to hold on to J&K and other disputed territories. Some external powers are clearly behind this orchestrated assault upon our national will to defend our unity and integrity.
What has lent a marked poignancy to this nationalism debate is the sharp contrast in the response to two episodes of campus unrest, one at JNU, where virulent anti- national slogans were shouted and the other at NIT in Srinagar where non-local students hoisted the Tricolour and shouted Bharat Mata ki Jai. The J&K police brutally thrashed and hospitalised the NIT students, whereas Kanhayia and his cohorts were treated with kid gloves and lionised by sections of the media.
The surprising part was the American ambassador’s intervention in this domestic debate about free speech. The US ambassador may have Indian genes, but he certainly lacks the locus standi to interfere in India’s internal affairs. However, purely on the issue of free speech and terrorism can anyone show us one American university, which commemorated the “martyrdom” of Osama Bin Laden or Ata Mohammed , the 9/11 bomber; one American university, which protested the “extra judicial killing” of Bin Laden in Abbottabad (there’s no US court there)? Or for that matter, can anyone name one US university that asked for the secession of Texas or Alaska? The last time some southern US states tried to secede, we had the American Civil War.