Becoming the Next West: Defining India’s rising liberalism!

Jana (people) Gana (group) Mana (mind) Adinayak (ruler) (literally ‘The ruler of the minds of the people‘ ) was written by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to celebrate the pride of being Indian. It was later adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the Indian National Anthem. The idea was to instill a sense of dutiful patriotism amongst the masses which by the way wasn’t necessary as such at that time. But what about today?  Who’s ruling the minds now?

Recently the Supreme Court of India’s bench of justices Dipak Mishra and Amitava Roy gave a surprising (to many) verdict making it mandatory for the movie theaters to play the anthem before the show. And suddenly the so called left liberalist media went furious about it.

Trevor Noah, host of the famous US talk show ‘The Daily Show’ mocked the ruling saying “I just wanna see how long this goes. First they will make you hear before every movie, than at a grocery store.” This coming from a state that hosted probably the worst democratic elections on moral grounds that lead China to state it as ‘an unprecedented joke’.

But that doesn’t bother me much. Rather that shouldn’t. The west for long have looked eastwards to fill in the moral and spiritual vacuum of their society. But what bothers me is the state of affairs in my own land. From when did ‘respect’ for the national anthem become an ‘insecure nationalism’? From when did rising for it for mere 52 seconds become a ‘forceful act’?

These pseudo liberals stated that they didn’t need to prove their nationalism to anybody. But who is this ‘anybody’? It’s their state itself. It’s their own democratically made Constitution that’s demanding. Are these liberals willing to teach their next gen not to respect to national anthem when played at school? Just because it’s a symbolic gesture of your patriotism which according to their logic is completely your own choice to display.

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This act is symbolic. And symbolism is necessary for any democracy to thrive. Pic courtesy BBC news/UK.

Our entire defence forces everyday pays respect to the anthem. Are they too pseudo nationalist by ‘displaying the act’? Or do they need to do this just to fit in their uniforms? Is this act of respect meant only for the defence forces & school kids? Should this patriotism be limited only to the national holidays? Because the civil society is too busy to take out a few seconds of their leisureful busy schedule.

I understand that nationalism should not just be limited to this ‘act’. But this ‘act’ is a part of the en large nationalism. This ‘act’ is symbolic. And symbolism is necessary for any democracy to thrive. The dandi march was itself symbolism. Lokmanya Tilak’s encouragement to celebrate Ganesh chaturthi across community lines was a symbolic act to bridge in the gap between various communities and find a context in which to build new grassroots unity between them. The huge protests across the nation during the Nirbhaya gang rape case was in itself symbolism at its best. And all of these did and will keep having long term influences.

The fact of the matter is that we are increasingly being fascinated by the sluggish democracies of the west. Their clumsiness is developing its roots in us. Looking at the current trends our westwords approach is anything but correct especially, on the moral grounds. 2016 in a big way showed us the flaws of their system. May it be the Brexit or the US elections or the power struggle in Mideast with its influences from the west, one thing is for sure, their system has failed. And its nothing short of an alarm for us.

We must not forget ours is a hard earned democracy. And we must keep it enriched and transmit it to our next generation in a proper manner without diluting it with a lazy liberalism. A way which makes it a rejoicing act from within than a forceful act from outside. We must not fall into the trap of corporate media houses that propagate a glorified west but instead keep our own integrity supreme. Because when the roots are changed, fruits can never be the same.

Its time we ‘stay east’ and ‘learn from the west’. Otherwise it wont be long before we become ‘The Next West’.

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