In times of an ideological crisis, conversations are imperative to prevent the homogenization of ideas by the authority. Rabindranath Tagore felt the emergence of a crisis during the freedom struggle. As a result, he delivered three speeches in different parts of the world, with two of them talking about the oriental ‘nations’ of India and Japan. The third lecture centered around the West and the ideology exhibited by its people. Tagore believes that the idea of nationalism originated as a measure to counter chaos and disorder. The chapter of nationalism in the west draws a subtle line between truth and untruth, and shows how untruth is lionized as a means to economic attainment. Through a resourceful criticism of the West, he gives them hope and assurance of a better future. The author praises the West for being a lover of individual rights and liberty but denounces its acts of suppression in the colonies. In Nationalism in India, Tagore scrutinizes the Indian society and provides numerous warnings to the same. In the beginning, he gives an explanation for the existence of the caste system and implicitly justifies it by terming it as a legitimate response to the diversity present in Indian society. Towards the end, he calls for action against the caste system, thereby retaining the faith imposed on him by his readers. Tagore showers words of praise for Japan, a nation which, according to him, embraced modernity while retaining its own spiritual and humanitarian values. He writes, “In a word, modern Japan has come out of the immemorial East like a lotus blossoming in easy grace, all the while keeping its firm hold upon the profound depth from which it has sprung.” As seen in the other two essays, he warns the Japanese as well, by saying that they might lose their ideals by racing with the west. “If it be a mere reproduction of the West, then the great expectation she has raised will remain unfulfilled.” The Nobel laureate writes the trio of essays by giving it a poetic touch. He’s able to capture the essence of oriental philosophy in a few pages, long before the world came to blows with each other. His essays draw a distinction between the oriental and the western culture, which serves as a beautiful reminder to the millennials, people who look at their hands and see no history. Tagore’s Nationalism ends with a Bengali poem, The Sunset of the Century, which is translated into English. In the last few lines of the poem, he appeals to the conscience of his readers through words weaved in majestic lines. The last stanza of the poem beautifully sums up his belief. Be not ashamed, my brothers, to stand before the proud and the powerful

With your white robe of simpleness.

Let your crown be of humility, your freedom the freedom of the soul.

Build God’s throne daily upon the ample bareness of your poverty

And know that what is huge is not great and pride is not everlasting.

Feature Image Credits: Sify

Kuber Bathla [email protected]]]>

“I am Indian. Then why is the government sending me into Exile?’, ‘Can the world’s largest democracy endure another five years of Modi Government’? A writer puts forth two questions for the world, but perhaps one is the answer to another question itself. 

“A citizen’s right to liberty is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. It is a fundamental right granted under the Constitution and can’t be infringed upon by the state,” as declared by the Supreme Court of India in the Prashant Kanojia case, who was allegedly detained by the UP Police for making remarks against the State’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. 

The aforementioned lines were stated by Justice(s) Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi bench and certainly provides a sacred safeguard to the citizens and their rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution of India against the state that may attempt to vandalise the freedom of expression and establish a ‘fascist’ regime in the country. But perhaps the Government has paved a way for itself to pursue its objectives of a rashtra, suited to their ideas and philosophies by revoking the very status of this ‘citizenship’ itself and abstaining the people of being one in the first place. The National Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is anyway extremely kind towards a specific section of the society, the disavowal of riter Aatish Ali Taseer’s Indian Nationality is more than an extension of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. 

Raised in the national capital by his Sikh mother and acclaimed journalist Tavleen Singh, Taseer rose to prominence with his debut Novel, “Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands” which can be seen as an introspective review of his status as a Muslim. He may even be recalled as the person who hosted Sir Salman Rushdie, when he returned to India after a long exile, but he will mostly be remembered as the author of TIME magazine’s May 2019 cover story that referred to Prime Minister Modi as ‘India’s Divider in Chief’, ahead of the 2019 General Elections. 

Following the release of the story, the entire social media was set ablaze, with responses from both the sides taking stark turns. The Modi Supporters started raising the issue of Taseer’s parenthood, especially with regard to his father who was a Pakistani politician; given our contempt for the country and Aatish’s identity, the claims were preferred by many and was furthered by ensuring that Taseer bewails his acts. But rather Taseer was empowered more than ever challenging the fanatic frenzy. 

According to Taseer, he received a letter from the Home Ministry, Government of India, stating that they are reviewing his Overseas Citizenship of India status in September this year. To this, he duly responded by resisting against the claims made by the Government of India within 24 hours. But it was only on November 7, when the government actually abolished Taseer’s citizenship leaving him in certain ‘exile’. 

What is interesting here is that all these years Taseer has lived in this country without ever being questioned about his citizenship. Although the recent developments in the country have reviewed the idea of nationalism, something of this kind is really concerning and hints towards a state that perhaps cannot accommodate dissent in anyway. 

While the government says that its revoking of Taseer’s status is solely because he did hide the fact that his father was a Pakistani, the father who is being referred here is assassinated Pakistan Governor Salman Taseer, who was nowhere in Aatish’s early life, and is a relation which further receded away because of their distinct nationalities. 

While the government seemed adamant in their stance, Taseer has now been joined by more than 260 writers, journalists and artists, including Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Chimamanda Adichie, Perumal Murugan and Amitav Ghosh, who have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for reviewing its decision to repeal writer Aatish Taseer’s Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) and allow an uninterrupted travel for him in India. This has brought the Government in a screened position, and the revocation will now have larger implications in the academic domain with the status of people of such political sagacity under question. The story has now garnered worldwide support and coverage and hence the Government needs to be extremely meticulous in its decision for the best of Taseer. 

Feature Image Credits: Aatish Taseer via Instagram

Faizan Salik

[email protected]


Recent proposals for changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses have sparked opposition from the teaching staff, and the ABVP.

Controversy over academic matters arose in the  University of Delhi (DU), with some members of the Standing Committee and the Academic Council (AC), along with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) taking objections to some of the proposed changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses.

The controversy has taken the form of opposition from Academic Council members and protests by the ABVP, which some had alleged to have turned hostile.

The Background

A report in The Hindu stated that changes in the syllabus proposed by the English department of the University were opposed in a meeting of the Standing Committee to review the Undergraduate syllabus on 11th July. Among the proposals was the inclusion of study materials related to the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and use of Hindu deities in the reading of Queer Literature.  

Similar was the case with the English Journalism syllabus. As reported by The New Indian Express on 15th July, objection was raised by some members of the Academic Council over the inclusion of chapters about Muzaffarnagar riots, and instances of lynchings.

On 17th July, The Indian Express reported about the syllabus changes of other courses and the objections that came along with them. These included syllabi of History, Political Science and Sociology, along with English. The report stated that the Academic Council “referred the syllabus of English and History back to the respective departments for reconsideration, thereby refusing to pass it as it is.” The report further read, “On the syllabi for Political Science and Sociology, some AC members said they too had been sent back for modification, while others claimed they were passed with ‘minor modifications’.”

Who objected and why?

Professor Rasal Singh, a member of the Academic Council, had raised objections regarding the syllabus changes. He alleged that in the story Maniben Alias Bibijaan – a background to the 2002 Gujarat riots – RSS and its affiliate organisations like Bajrang Dal were shown in a “very bad manner”, and were portrayed as “looters” and “murderers”.

He further said that in the syllabus proposed by the English department, “Gods Vishnu, Shiv, Kartikeya and Ganesh were depicted as part of the LGBT community. The sources and evidence for these were secondary sources like ‘Same Sex Love in India’ written by Leftists on the basis of foundational texts of Indian culture such as the Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, and Shiva Purana.” He also alleged that “too much Literature was being incorporated in a paper like ‘Communication Skills’. Instead of core courses like ‘Indian Writing in English’, new papers such as ‘Literature and Caste’ and ‘Interrogating Queerness’ were started.”

Regarding the History department, he said that “[topics about] Rajput history, Amir Khusrau, Sher Shah Suri and Babasaheb Ambedkar were removed from the syllabus. In the ‘Democracy on Work’ course, only the history of Naxalism and the Left have been included.”

He also said that the topics related to the Vedic society, the joint family, village swaraj, and “basics of Indian cultural thought such as environmental discussions and nature worship” were removed from the Sociology syllabus. On the Political Science front, according to Mr Singh, Maoism had been included in the course on ‘Indian Social Movements’, while other social movements like the Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj, and Khudai Khidmatgar were removed.

Mr Singh also alleged that the English department had not complied with the format and instructions of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) and instead of a 30 percent change in the syllabus, close to a 100 percent change had been done.

The syllabus showed “tremendous predominance of leftist ideology and a ceaseless opposition towards nationalist ideology, Indian culture and the RSS,” Mr Singh said.

The ABVP, the student-wing of the RSS, organised a protest on 15th July, against the “inclusion of false facts relating to Hinduism and nationalist organisations.” The ABVP also demanded for the “inclusion of elected office bearers of Delhi University Students’ Union in the Academic Council,” as per a press release made by the student organisation on 16th July.

While some alleged that the ABVP tried to “barge into” the Vice Chancellor’s office and demanded that the Heads of Department of English and History, and Academic Council member Saikat Ghosh be “handed over to them,” the student organisation maintained that the protest was “peaceful.”

“Following the protest of ABVP yesterday, Delhi University administration has withdrawn the proposed syllabus of Political Science, English, History and Sociology courses for revision and decided to retain 5 students as members in the Academic Council,” said Ashutosh Singh from the ABVP.

Note – Mr Ghosh could not respond to requests for comments by the time of publishing of this report. This report would be updated as and when he does.

Similar instances in the past

In October last year, the ABVP had objected to the appointment of historian Ramachandra Guha as the Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Gandhi Winter School at the Ahmedabad University’s School of Arts and Sciences. Pravin Desai, the ABVP Secretary for Ahmedabad city was quoted in The Indian Express as saying, “We said that we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and not anti-nationals, who can also be termed as ‘urban Naxals’. We had quoted anti-national content from his [Guha’s] books to the Registrar. We told him, the person you are calling is a ‘Communist’. If he is invited to Gujarat, there would be a JNU-kind ‘anti-national’ sentiment.”

Following this, Mr Guha announced that he would not be taking up this position due to “circumstances beyond my control.”


Some student organisations have condemned the ABVP’s protests. Organisations such as the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Association (AISA), Collective, and others had called for a ‘joint protest’ on 17th July at the Arts Faculty, to “save our critical thinking universities and textbooks from communal forces.”

Amarjeet Kumar Singh from AISA said, “We demand that the syllabus should be decided by the Academic Council and not by the ABVP.”

Feature Image Credits: Various.

Prateek Pankaj

[email protected]


Every year, October 8 is celebrated as the Air Force Day. Amidst parades and fly pasts, the nation salutes the valor and patriotism of these bravehearts on the front lines, but are medals of honour and pension schemes enough when the state asks for absolutely selfless service?

Promises of respect and power have been used to incentivise recruits into armed forces since times immemorial. Expectations of patriotism and bravery justify that state’s underpayment and provision of substandard living conditions for military personnel. Media coverage of public controversies like that of the Rafale Deal, deeming the loss of a fighter jet akin to burning the cash equivalent of its monetary value, completely ignoring the loss of lives, paints a picture of the utilitarian dystopia our society is doomed to evolved into.

India loses approximately 1600 military personnel (on duty) every year, without going to war. A majority of these calamities can be credited to ‘technical failures’ of fighter jets and naval vessels. For the large quantum of Indian Air Force (IAF) planes dropping out of the sky, shoddy maintenance and lack of pilot trainees are major driving factors. Although the IAF is known for its high standards, those standards are largely for its pilots; maintenance crews may not share that quality. There is a dire need for trainees, the absence of whom led to  rookie pilots moving straight ahead to frontline warplanes such as the MiG-21. The upshot – young pilots died at an alarming rate. India is the largest importer of arms, Russia being a major source for these imports up until the recent past. Russian made vessels and jets have not only been unreliable, but the Russians have also been accused of being tardy with supplies of spare parts.

In 2014, the death toll jumped to 6400. The same year, Admiral DK Joshi of the Indian Navy made headlines last year after resigning following a series of submarine accidents that left 18 sailors dead. Not surprisingly, the vessels in questions were Russian made and supplied.

Amid growing concerns, India decided to turn to the west for production and procurement of Military Grade  Weaponry. Domestication wasn’t possible owing to the gross incompetence, lack of funding and dwindling employee strength of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indian counterpart of the Boeing Company (leading defence contract behemoth).

2 years later, Narendra Modi took office, amid promises of military modernisation. The Rafael Deal is an initiative in that very direction, but it’s been scandalized with controversies about corruption at large.  The Rafale Deal is a similar contract, where the Government of India will procure 36 ready-to-fly Fighter Jets from Dassault, a French Weapons Manufacturer. Congress has alleged the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of corruption and raised questions as to why there isn’t ‘technological transfer’, and why HAL isn’t manufacturing these airplanes.

According to The Hindu, the deal was initially estimated to be worth $10.2 billion (Rs.54,000 crore). The plan included acquiring 126 aircraft, 18 of them in fly-away condition and the rest to be made in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics facility under transfer of technology. The deal was initially estimated to be worth $10.2 billion (Rs.54,000 crore). The plan included acquiring 126 aircraft, 18 of them in fly-away condition and the rest to be made in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics facility under transfer of technology.

Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Defence Minister, has time and again emphasised the incapability of HAL to  guarantee the safety of these planes, if domestically built. Critics of the government continue to question this contract, calling it huge wastage of money. But amidst this political storm, there lies an inherent trivialisation of the lives of those operating these aircrafts.

The citizens of India need to understand and own up to their responsibility to the members of the Armed Forces, which is much more than celebratory tweets about valour, courage and bravery on every National Holiday or AirForce/Army/Navy Day.

Feature Image Credits – Daily Hunt

Nikita Bhatia

[email protected]

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’.

Anushree Joshi

[email protected]

Muskan Sethi

[email protected]




Jawahar Lal Nehru University’s (JNU) descent into what some would call the murky whirlpool of inglorious controversies, continues. In fact, it reached a new paradigm on Sunday, 23 July 2017, as the Vice Chancellor, M. Jagadesh Kumar, requested Union ministers General V.K. Singh and Dharmendra Pradhan to assist him in “procuring an army tank” to be positioned at a “prominent place” within the campus. Clearly, the first Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrations to ever be held on the campus had by then deteriorated into an unfortunate display of jingoism. To add fuel to the fire, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who was also one of the guests invited to the event, said: “Standing in JNU, it takes me back to when there was a lot of talk about freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is important, but there are certain things which are absolutely non-negotiable. One is the respect for the tricolour.” What should make your hair stand on its ends is that eerily enough, Gambhir’s remarks echo ex-President Pranab Mukherjee’s last speech, in which he reminds the citizens of the country to draw a line at some point while still exercising their right to freedom of speech. Incidentally, this is not the first time that the idea of a military tank has been proposed in the campus. It came once before too, right after the February 2016 incident when ‘anti-nationalistic’ slogans were allegedly raised. And there has never been a dearth of the overly vocal flag-bearers of xenophobia, ever since.


The event commenced with a well-intentioned Tiranga March. There could be sceptics who view this as a problematic notion. But there is, in theory, nothing wrong with it. It is meant to be an expression of one’s patriotism, which would be perfectly spontaneous under natural circumstances. Some of us, however, have been equipped with a university education in the armoury. This education teaches us the difference between ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’. While one demands a genuine love for the country, the other beats its own trumpet in the name of language and culture. That education—knowing the ‘why’ and the ‘how’—is a major problem.

When an issue transcends the lives of one or two and begins to entangle one person too many into its folds, much like a spider quietly spinning a web, is it still justified to dismiss that issue as a mere controversy? Perhaps not, because what JNU symbolises at the moment is a fertile ground for seeds of all kinds of ideologies to be sown. Once sown, they will be forever embedded into impressionable, young minds. And whether you like it or not, as a university student in DU or JNU or any other campus, you do not really have the choice of non-alignment. That non-alignment is in itself an anomaly, a ‘misalignment’ if you will, should you choose to differ from the majority. You and I cannot remain apolitical. Whether you choose the Left, the Right or the Centre; be vociferous and active or secretive and mum; choose to go with the flow or against it—you have made a vital decision.

The point is should you be punished for making that choice? Whether or not a decommissioned military tank in the university campus manages to “instill nationalism,” it will have installed several disturbing questions in the minds of the students, as this event to goes down in the annals of history.

Image credits: Scroll.in

Deepannita Misra

[email protected]


With tension doing the round, our writer tries to lay focus on the recent wave of anti-Pakistan sentiments in India, and how it is being misused by the authorities to propel a Hindutva-oriented brand of jingoistic nationalism.


This year, Dussehra was a far cry from the routine, hum-drum ‘effigy burning’ ritual that takes place every year. There was of course a familiar, colourful and gigantic Ravana’s head on fire in most parts of the country. It was set ablaze amidst peals of laughter from delighted children. Yet, some parts of India also chose to burn gigantic effigies representing Pakistan alongside Ravana, and burned them with equal (perhaps even exceeding) vigour. What had been built with such care, nurtured across the decades through ghazals and qawwalis, through numerous films and serials, versatile fashion and rich literature, all went into flames within seconds. This only proves how destructive firecrackers are. It is at times like these that cross-border peace efforts crumble like sandcastles.


Uri is a good enough reason to lash the neighbour. But why must Mumbai, Pathankot and the Parliament be forgotten? They did not stop us from differentiating between the bureaucracy and the civilians before. Almost as if in an instant, the gulf of anger has grown wider and deeper this time. Flags must be burnt and artistes banned in a display of ‘exceptional’ patriotism. News channels must engage in foul-mouthing a country which still maintains strong trade ties with India. In fact, Narayanan Madhavan recently pointed out this strange dichotomy in an interview with Al-Jazeera. His argument followed along the lines of why Pakistani artistes must be banned when trade across the borders continues as usual.


At this juncture, if the T.V. goes mute in the background and the newspapers lie unnoticed for a minute, we may get up from our seats and think about ‘who’ or ‘what’ have been constituting nationalism for us. Since when did Pakistan become an excuse for asserting a saffron clad, Hindutva-oriented, jingoistic brand of nationalism? In this close-knit definition, a filmmaker must apologise for working with Pakistani artistes. In turn, the artistes must explain their silence too. Every aspect of the questioning civilian is branded with a red, hot mark of sedition. News and media outlets, as if they were gagged and turned into an extension of the state machinery, must propel this brand of nationalism forward.


Dussehra marks the end of Durga Puja and Navratra celebrations. It marks the epic battle of good versus evil, in which good always wins. But if Pakistan’s effigy burns alongside Ravana’s on this occassion, what sort of ‘evil’ are we targeting? In fact, who defines this brand of patriotism as necessarily being ‘good’?


Deepannita Misra

Hansraj College will become the first Delhi University college to hoist the national flag in its campus. Is it propagation of a certain idea of nationalism by those in power?

Hans Raj College will become the first college in Delhi University to hoist the national flag in its premises. The decision to hoist the tricolour, the request for which was made by college principal Rama Sharma to college alumnus Naveen Jindal, comes in the wake of the nationalism debate that raged after the JNU controversy in February this year. At an event to mark the 69th founder’s day of the college, the decision was made public by industrialist and founder of the Flag Foundation of India, Naveen Jindal, who shared the stage with the varsity Vice Chancellor Y K Tyagi and other notable alumni like Om Prakash Kohli, the governor of Gujarat.

Jindal filed a writ petition at the Delhi High Court in 1995 contesting the order of the Commissioner of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, who invoked the erstwhile Flag Code of India, prohibiting him from flying the tricolour at his factory premises. The court having considered his plea asked the government to constitute a committee which eventually mandated that the citizens, by the virtue of having the fundamental right of expression, have claim over the national flag and can hoist it on days other than Independence Day and Republic Day. The committee, headed by Dr P.D. Shenoy suggested changes to the code which eventually culminated in the formulation of the Flag Code of India (2002) which gave citizens the right to hoist the tricolour on private premises in accordance with a certain protocol on days other than gazetted holidays. The national flag positioned at the centre of Connaught Place was also installed by the tycoon who was influenced by the liberal usage of the American flag during his years at the University of Texas where he was president of the student government.

The decision, which emerged from the Hans Raj principal’s request to have the tricolour by 26th January 2017, can be viewed as the result of an informal meeting among the Vice Chancellors of 42 Central Universities and the then HRD minister, Smriti Irani, in the month of February. The backdrop of this meeting was the JNU imbroglio, allegedly involving anti-national slogans, hurting national sentiments and its highly questionable media coverage. The gathering took the decision to fly the tricolour on college buildings of central universities to instil a feeling of nationalism among the student community and the youth. On similar lines, the residential Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) in the country have been asked to follow suit.

That the premise behind the argumentation of the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD) is based on inculcating nationalist feeling among the youth is bizarre in its own way. A certain idea of nationalism and not nationalism per se is being attempted to be appropriated through symbolic means by those in power. The symbolic nature of the tricolour which was designed by freedom fighter Pingali Venkayya, was meant to create an open space within every citizen to have the collective conscience of belonging, along with having one’s own individual idea of the nation. The imposition of an idea of the nation, which is being promulgated by the HRD, has already garnered success in the way in which the non- Kashmiri students of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, are demanding the tricolour on the institution’s premises to feel ‘protected from the fringe elements in the valley’ as if the tricolour doesn’t belong to the Kashmiris and is exclusive in nature. This exclusivist approach by the ministry limits the idea of the nation and grants the right of its formulation to just certain individuals in Lutyen’s Delhi.

That the hoisting of the national flag has been a failed experiment to instil the ‘feeling of nationalism’ is evident in the ways in which student eruptions happened in institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad Central University, where the national flag was already hoisted.

The hoisting of the tricolour in the current political atmosphere is not to be viewed in isolation since certain ideas are being pushed alongside such symbolic installations at educational institutions. If Hans Raj College successfully hoists the tricolour, a symbol which is being instrumentalised to push forward a specific agenda, then this will engender a phenomenon characterised by demands from other colleges in the varsity for the same. The tricolour stands for the rich cultural legacy and the secular ethos that the country preserved at the time of independence. It also symbolises the freedom struggle that strived for the freedom of thought and expression and celebrated mutual co-existence among the warring factions of the subcontinent. It also stands for secularism and inclusivity. In the current political environment, one needs to understand that the idea of nationalism that is being promulgated by the ruling order isn’t concomitant with the national flag, for the attempts to suppress dissent and free speech have been major components of the undercurrent that has characterised the need to advertise a certain idea of nationalism through the symbol of the tricolour.

 The government needs to learn from the JNU experiment and realise that political contamination of the national flag for the promotion of its version of nationalism will serve to jeopardise the academic ecosystem in varsities across the country, and curb space for dissent and scientific temper. A democracy essentially preaches the idea of pitting an argument against an argument rather than using force to crush dissent. The need of the hour is to offer space for research and create infrastructure rather than adorn the existing ones with political symbolisms.

Image credit: du.ac.in

Aditya Narang ([email protected]) and Sidharth Yadav ([email protected])