From struggling for the country’s freedom to being free in a democracy, the ideology of nationalism and movements may have changed since 1947, but the quest for justice remains alive. Read on to find out how a student’s approach towards the terms ‘sedition’ (S), ‘nationalism’ (N) and ‘struggle’ (S) change the course of how a nation grows.
In Bangladesh, the government had fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse around 20 protesters who had gathered to agitate against the deaths of two students, reportedly killed by a speeding bus on 29th July. Allegedly, the social media outreach by the masses there, voicing their concerns against the actions, has been strategically curbed.
This comes as a stark reminder of 2016, when students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were abused, threatened with death and rape, were thrown into jail without charges and without concrete evidence. What came to be popularly known as the JNU Sedition Row reflects a prominent question- “Is dissent the first step towards anti-nationalism?” “The universities encourage ideas of liberalism and provide a platform for engagement. If a thinking individual cannot think out loud, question, or criticise the establishment, then the idea of a university is of no use,” says Akanksha Rao, a student at Jesus and Mary College. But we have been fed the textbook-sentiment of patriotism for so long that it seems nearly blasphemous to ask the ‘what, why and how’ of patriotism.
While patriotism simply implies devotion towards and vigorous support for one’s country, nationalism is defined as the ‘identification with one’s own nation, and the support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations’. However today, the lines between patriotism and nationalism have become extremely blurry.
As a 20-year-old student, Vishal Ranka disagrees with the approach of sedition in the present-day and stated “It’s a blatant slap to my Freedom of Speech. If one doesn’t question, how far can my pride go?”
Sedition laws were first imposed upon the Indians by the British to curb any dissent against authority or power. Regrettably, what constitutes as sedition today lies in a comparative on how tolerant the state is.
Niharika Dabral, a student at the University of Delhi (DU), put her ideology of what doesn’t constitute nationalism in an article, writing, “The notion that there can be only one concept of what constitutes a nation, and that every other view is anti-national, is intellectually void at best and authoritarian at worst.”
With constant discourse in society, the phrase ‘anti-national’ has become frivolous to the extent of forming a binary between blind nationalism and sedition. These restrictions, stemming from stringent emotions in society, impact the students the most, as their primary interaction with liberalism isn’t liberal in itself.
There may be a thousand perspectives on nationalism today, but informed student movements today fight against those rationales which demand one to put a litmus paper to the tongue, scream “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, and the minute the paper turns saffron, pat oneself on the back, and get labelled a ‘patriot’.
Feature Image Credits: Eyes on Europe
Feature Image Caption: Nationalism is defined as the ‘identification with one’s own nation, and the support for its interests, especially to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of other nations’.