[Reader-list] Reg: Mail on nationalism and Gujarat's secular development (And my experiences)

Rakesh Iyer rakesh.rnbdj at gmail.com
Sun Jun 13 12:54:35 IST 2010

Hi all

First of all, I am excited to be back posting on Sarai after a long time. I
had been to Araria in Bihar for 20 days with regard to an internship doing
social audit of MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee
Act) in two panchayats of Araria district. I enjoyed the experience, and was
also sad and pained to see the levels of corruption in the scheme. The
social audits also consisted of public hearings where the problems and
compalints of citizens were brought to the fore among the district officials
who have started acting against the complaints made against officials. I
also realized the importance of MNREGA particularly in the rural backgrounds
of this diverse nation of ours where this scheme could reverse not only the
social and economic but also the political dynamics of our nation, and
certainly wish it succeeds.

Also, I would like to say that my perception of Nitish Kumar has certainly
changed in some extent. Earlier I thought that the rural populace was not
interested and also the Muslims, but at least at the ground level, though
with a limited experience of groundwork, I did find Muslims actually liking
Nitish Kumar's rule (the places I went to had up to 90% of Muslims), though
they certainly didn't approve of the BJP. Ironically, the poor however found
that the bureaucracy was more corrupt under Nitish's rule as compared to the
Lalu rule, which gave them a sense of dignity. Also, the fact that Nitish is
completely hamstrung in the implementation of land reforms and higher
education reform reports shows that he is still held as a puppet by his
MLA's and the BJP.

Coming back to nationalism and the mail Bipin bhai sent, I would say that
nationalism is something not only me but the great Rabindranath Tagore was
himself against. Nationalism is something which has destroyed Israel itself.
Tagore was against Gandhi on many ideas, and one of them was nationalism,
even though Gandhi's own idea of nationalism was something Ashish Nandy
described as 'leading to internationalism' and hardly involved violence of
any kind. The reason was something we should all understand. Nationalism
thrives on the feeling that one should place the nation-state before
oneself. This is a highly dubious stand simply because a nation-state is not
what Bipin bhai may think it to be.

A nation-state, in an ideal case should mean a collection of people who have
decided to live together, devising a commonly understood way of
administration with minimum differences amongst them while having decided
so. It is not the case. A nation-state simply means an authority which has
the legitimate right to indulging in violence upon its' own citizens and
others who act against the state. The problem with this is that the threat
lies that the nation-state or those who control it can simply do as they
wish and attack those who stop them in their steps, terming it as
anti-state, and others are simply expected to follow it. Also, the violence
of the state is justified and supposed to be taken as the verdict without
ever questioning it. Nationalism has dangers of its own. Moreover, violence
can't be justified in the name of protecting a state because the state may
be oppressive, and the best option may be to throw off the state.

Therefore, to state that nationalism is justified and would lead to
development is travesty. Development should be for the people and not for
those who control the nation-state and other sections who benefit from it
where the major section of the population has to only suffer and not have
the ability to change the situation. Naxalism is one result of what happens
when this is the case. What will help the country is not nationalism, but
instead a pro-people outlook which will guide the development process and
help bring peace and prosperity to the citizens. Hence, let us stop bragging
about nationalism here itself.

Am fine sharing things with you in person (on my gmail id) on my trip to
Araria, as this may not be the appropriate forum to do so.

And happy to be back. Probably one of the few reasons I enjoy my dreary life
in IIT, is Sarai.


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