Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review on Ethnic Nationalism in Germany and its Repercussions on India

To understand the concept of Ethnic nationalism, right from its emergence to its pinnacle, where it was strong enough to give way to some major repercussions, a talk at Jawaharlal Nehru University gave a deeper and more comprehensive insight. Circulating on the ends of history and touching the boundaries of world politics, the author still drives on the culture of governance and its weaning ideas with time. Let’s have a look of what we can understand out of this rich discussion.

Author proclaims that in European states, the medieval scheme had the concept of empire and state dominating its political ideas. The principles of nationalism went through a sea change with the spirit of religious tolerance in the next few ages. It was believed that every religion worked in its own way to steer the way towards salvation, so there had to be a patient acceptance of all the religions. It broached up the concept of religion, citizenship, self governance and human rights in most of the nations. But this was not the end to the change. The next debate that kicked up was of deliverance. While the people were getting together with Nationalistic feeling, was it the collective independence, or the individual independence to be prioritized? While a few nations were siding with the individual liberty, there were many would stand by a sense which understood the nation to be a single whole organism.

Before going through the tribulations of the consequences of nationalism, the author takes a chance to relate to us that the concept of Nationalism. Nationalistic fervour indicated with a clear reference, the elimination of the religion guiding the people’s life with secularism taking its place. An environment where people had the right to pursue their own believes and nation had nothing to do with their sets of believes. State was more concerned with the independence and growth factors related to nation. Different nations saw this change in their own way. But one thing is for sure, for none was a peaceful gain. It was a violent struggle to free the politics of the religion, bringing secularism. This congeniality of its emergence draws a parallel between the west and the east, as both have been the strugglers in this filed. While the history of India is full of clamorous bloodshed and violence, in the wake of its independence struggle, French people saw this change a long time back with the French revolution. French revolution is known as the fall of aristocratic regalia, forcing the laws of religion imposed on the people. The underlining force of the revolution was read as political intolerance of religion by the people. While the French people shirked off the religion, it also deshelled from a belief in god. While it brought the man against man, a sheer power struggle free of every inhibition also ensued. French Revolution was the inception of Nationalism, and a swift air blew the western countries in its sway. India with its diversities in nearly every possible field, from religion, ethnicity, race, to many more folds in its crease, drew a breath of nationalism against the dominance of British rule. The horrendous differences in Indian culture have not been a recent thing. Its people not only know how to live, rather how to thrive with its pluralities.

Ethnic nationalism was a fresh concept, which erupted as a reaction to Napoleon’s invasion of German speaking lands. The sense of freeing a collection of people grew more pressing than the individual’s freedom. And Germans stood up against the French people. People had a choice of living with their ‘individual freedom’ under the ideology of French, where they could have lived culturally free and politically under German rule. This would have brought them democracy, emancipation of the Jews, a civil code and religious freedom. But the idea of emancipation of the collective people took over the idea of individual emancipation. Visualizing nation as a single great individual brought a struggle to breathe a free air. Organic growth replaced active political deliberation.
The era saw a surge of romantics, hoisting a flag in favour of the glamour of feudal age and it simplicity. They wanted to bind the nation as a one; no matter was it under the monocracy or a democracy. With the rise of 20th century, India adopted the idea of ethnic nationalism not just as the language and cultural difference; rather it showed the racial acceptance as well.

Author has made some memorable points in the discussion, without ever verging to boredom. Many points serve to be a feast to our intellect. Nationalism has been both positive as well as negative leading to some great effects. While in nationalism, the likes of a relatively smaller group is suppressed by the powerful, and a denial of difference is brought by bringing emergency, to make people huddle together and forget their issues for a time. It works on great levels. Author has taken a commendable stand, bringing about the changes forth.

But on one point the author appears to be misled. It is of his Ethnic Nationalistic understanding of Indian nationalism. Differences have been the part and parcel of India. Not only in the culture and language, India has its spheres in race as well. Indian Nationalism is something way off from the usual nationalism, where there are no boundaries of any kind. People from different ethnic groups live and thrive as one unite, coming from their peculiar roots and understandings. They don’t share a common language, and there is a multiplicity of language. Indian nationalism refers to the many underlying forces that molded the Indian independence movement, and strongly continue to influence the politics of India, as well as being the heart of many contrasting ideologies that have caused ethnic and religious conflict in Indian society. Indian nationalism often imbibes the consciousness of Indians that prior to 1947, India embodied the broader Indian subcontinent and influenced a part of Asia, known as Greater India. In light of this fact, it will be holding to a very myopic view to have India in Ethnic Nationalistic flavor. India deftly handles a difficult and a unique Nationalism, which has inspired many nations of the world gradually.


The darkness of the room was impinged by the light, that the window was transferring from outside. The window was emitting a pale and dull street light, which threw streaks of light on the opposite wall of the room. Gradually, before she could have realized what was happening, the structure of the window began melting away. Melting into the darkness of the room. And the light started receding back. The silhouette of the objects in the darkness, were drifting away. Getting beyond her reach. Her eyes could follow the distance. But they were getting away from her. Away from the reach of her touch. Light retained the constancy in its beams. But the source of it was slipping away. It was covering millions of miles in every fragment of a second. Soon the distance exceeded the moon’s distance from the earth. And this distance, she could feel in her every limb.

She was afraid. Afraid that everything might leave her behind. That every iota of this universe might collapse into the vastness. Leaving her alone. Alone amidst nothing. In the vacuum of an immeasurable space. The magnanimity of it haunted her. She wanted to shriek. Shriek at the highest pitch of her voice. But her voice failed her. It was painful. Like a dream, where you want help and want to shriek, but can not produce any voice. Yet, she wanted to shout. Shout, to disturb this musical flow of things.

As the palpable world was falling away, a sense of loneliness crept over her. The solidarity of the world was shattered. But as the things got on the verge of disapparation, she yelled at the pitch of her voice. Her yell disturbed the rhythm. The rhythm that whole world seemed to be following in. Strangely enough, even she had felt the coarseness and needlessness of it. But now the falling world had come together. Things were proximate once more. But the trance of that distance, hadn’t betrayed her yet. She heard a voice, in a loud whisper, calling at her. It was asking her what was happening. She couldn’t bring out words from her mouth, till the question was repeated a few times. Then she forced out a fragmented sentence, in a faint voice “papa.. .. papa.. .. Everything is drifting away.. .. away from me.” She heard the consolatory words “no my child. Nothing is away. I am near you. See? Here, touch my hand.” She touched the parental hand, tender with affection. It retrieved the feeling of solidarity in her. The broken pieces of the lost world, were falling into their place. Things once more coagulated to solidify. And now, she was awake. But awake from what? No one could tell, if she could not. Her eyes had been wide open all this while. How many whiles, she had no idea. She heard her mother calling “what happened my child? What was it?” “Everything was thawing into the darkness. Look at the window. Its light has been receding”. “Must have been a very bad dream. Come, sleep my baby. Everything is fine now. It was just a nightmare. Here, I am by your side. See? “

She didn’t say anything anymore, and closed her eyes. This was much better. She fell into the drizzling reality of dreams. Not once, she had this vision many times. . Frequently, she saw the bleak margin, that dissevers the dream from reality dissolving…She dreaded it. Then she began loving this strange feeling, coming to her. She waited for it. Even tried to evoke it herself. It made her feel that she wasn’t a replica soul. She was original and stood apart from all of the rest. She was meant to see and feel the unknown realities, and not just to live.