New Delhi: This episode of NDTV Dialogues tackles a topic that greats like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, BR Ambedkar also grappled with 67 years ago. Today's guests, Jaswant Singh, Javed Akhtar, Professor Ashis Nandy and Swapan Dasgupta, debate the topic. Here is the full transcript of the show.
NDTV: Good evening and welcome to the NDTV Dialogues. Every week on this show, we bring you a conversation of ideas. Tonight, as India marks its 66th anniversary of Independence, we look at defining Nationalism. A debate which was als o had between Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and even Mohammed Ali Jinnah. What does Nationalism mean to us today? Joining me tonight Jaswant Singh, Professor Ashis Nandy, Javed Akhtar and Swapan Dasgupta. How would you define Nationalism today, at a time Hindu Nationalism seems to have become a bit of buzzword in your party? Mr Modi referred to it; campaign posters came up around this. How would you define Nationalism?
Jaswant Singh: I personally think that nationalism is an adopted word. It really got born as a concept in Westphalia, before that there were states, yes. And I find some difference between a nation and a rashtra. I don't think the straight translation of nation is rashtra or the other way around. The other thing about adopting this word that we did from the, because of the consequence of the entire movement of freedom, not just in India, but globally. The end of the Spanish Civil War, the revolution in Russia and so nationalism got adopted as a phrase without fully grasping the essence of the word.
A much more native word is 'Rashtriyata'. The difficult thing with India has always been that it has always been a non-territorial rashtra, most civilisational, more cultural. Which is why until the East India Company came on the scene, there is not a single map of India that you can find. There is no map. I think some of the attributes of the nation, one people; one language; homogeneity. We were a rashtra. We will continue to be a rashtra but a civilisational rashtra. And that civilisational string that connects us, almost amorphously, is the essence of rashtrayita.
NDTV: In the current context of Nationalism, do you think we can have Hindu Nationalism or Muslim Nationalism or Christian Nationalism?
Jaswant Singh: No of course not. We cannot have it because I do not know what Hindu Nationalism is. Hindu itself is highly politicized word, more essentially post 1992 for various reasons. But you needn't politicize it, because the essence of India is the string that connects us is sanathan thought. Sanathan cannot be politicized because it belongs to everyone and it identifies them. Hindu Nationalism is a tautological description almost, because nationalism is equated to deshbhakti, for example, the citizens that live in this geographical territory of India, they are deshbhakt, they are nationalists, irrespective of what faith they belong to. And Sanathan is quintessentially accommodative. It accommodates everybody.
NDTV: Swapan, if you could come in on that. Many say why do we even talk about Hindu Nationalism or why we look at Nationalism alone is because there are so many identities people want to claim. If you are a nationalist, we are not Hindus as well? Why cannot we claim multiple identities? Do you think it a part of the issue? How would you look at nationalism today, very aggressive nationalism some would say
Swapan Dasgupta: Look, I will just take off from where Mr Jaswant Singh left off. I think the extent to which European influences have played a role in shaping India have subsequently been underestimated by a lot of people. In the first flush of freedom we thought that really we've achieved it ourselves. But the extent to which, what we are today, as being defined by the European influence, is tremendous. Just to take two or three minor examples: the notion of trust, the notion of Government by trust. Government should exist on behalf of, for all the people, is something that is a direct follow from the 1688 glorious revolution in Britain. That concept did not exist in India before this. Similarly, the term nationality was very much a European import, particularly, at the turn of the century.
When we decided that we, in demanding representative Government, which again is something we got, must also have a certain essential, emotional structure to define it. And it became nationality and from there nationalism was an inevitable consequence. If you read the early literature of the early twentieth century, you will find that almost everyone says what is that silken thread. And they don't use the word Snarthi, which probably would have been more appropriate, because it means the eternal way. They use, we are defined by the loose structure of Hinduism. Bipin Chandra Pal, Tilak, Annie Besant, Aurobindo, Gosh, they all said the same thing. So that has a certain pedigree about it. The question is, is there a conflict between patriotism? In ancient India, there was a sense of nation, you could say. Jannani Janmabhoomishwa, an iconography which was there; a sense of belonging. But did that translate into a vision of a state? It didn't. We created a state. One composite state was very much a modern invention. So really what we have is, on one hand we have different identities and on the other hand, all those different identities are real, whether it is ethnic, linguistic, to some extent it could even be religious. These are various multiple identities, which we have. And I don't blame anyone because it is natural. No human being is made up of one composite. It is not the enlightenment, where Voltaire said the relevant question is that which has a single answer. We don't think like that. We've never thought like that. The conflict ironically lies in actually superimposing an enlightenment culture on a civilization, which is made up of very, very different mental components.
Tagore said that the real conflict; India, he wrote, and he was referring to the British conquest, has often been conquered by people. This was the first time he wrote that we have been conquered by a nation and he called the Nation the biggest curse. Of Course he was referring to Japan. He had a romanticised view of what India was, childlike in its simplicity. The Japanese used to taunt him, he is very poetic but he speaks the language of a defeated people. I think that is the basic conflict we have. On the one hand we have a very strong European influence and we have the underbelly, made up of very different constituents. The DNA of the underbelly is very different from our idea of modernity. That clash, it results in various distortions and new expressions, etc., etc.
NDTV: In fact Javed Sahab, when you look at the whole relationship between nationality and patriotism, we have seen in the current situation with Pakistan as well. Pakistan's Assembly has passed a resolution, quickly both the Houses got their act together and passed the resolution too. So it is all about whose more hyper-national than the other also?
Javed Akhtar: This is a question, which should come later. First of all let's decide what is Nationalism and what makes a Nation? Is it the religion? Now, in Hindu code bill how is a Hindu defined? A Hindu is a person who is not a Muslim, who is not a Christian or a Parsi. That is the definition. If by any magic wand, all the Muslims, Christians and Parsis vanish, then what will be the definition of a Hindu? On the other side, you have religions, which have a much clearer definition of who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Could they make a nation? Could Pakistan make a nation? The answer is no. Religion fails to make a nation. So what makes a nation? Language? We have African countries where they speak the same language. They are dividing themselves. What makes a nation? I think culture? No. You have the same culture in Europe. More or less the same culture but they have different languages. You are a nation only if you think you are a nation. If you don't think you are nation, you are not a nation. You can be put together, but you will be a nation only when you believe you are a nation.
Let's come to Nationalism and Patriotism. When these two words come to my mind, I think of Janus the Greek God that has two faces but one head. Patriotism and Nationalism overlap each other. But at the same time, the faces are looking in the opposite direction. You have a term like ultra-nationalist; you don't have term like ultra-patriot. Why? There is a difference between nationalism and patriotism. Patriotism is love for the country. Nationalism is pride, pride and love for the Nation. Nationalism is also necessary because that is how I identify myself. Denying prejudice is necessary, but we should see that it does not become malignant. I am not that, that's why I'm me. But, at the same time there is a danger. However, patriotic you may be, you won't go wrong. If you cross a certain degree of nationalism, you can enter the area of fascism, become xenophobic. You can become jingoistic. So this is something that has to be there, but under control, under the control of certain decency and certain awareness.
NDTV: When you talk about Hindu nationalism, you also talk about Islamic fundamentalism. There have been those who oppose. Why attach a religious label of any kind, give a negative connotation?
Javed Akhtar: Muslims have a myth called 'Umma', a pan-Islamic brotherhood. It doesn't exist and it never existed. It is a lie. It is a kind of delusion that they live in. There is nothing like pan-Islamic brotherhood. Given half a chance, most of them would kill most of them. You are a Hindu nationalist as long as these Muslims are there. You will cease to be a Hindu nationalist. You will become something else. It is a negative approach.
Pan-Islamic brotherhood is a myth.
NDTV: Is there a malignancy, when you attach a religion to an 'ism' in the sense? You look at nationalism, fundamentalism. Do you automatically then alter the contours of the word, the actual theme behind the word?
Ashis Nandy: Lets go into the fundamentals first. The idea of nation, nationality and nationalism is inter-related. They are late entrants into the human history. The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia consolidated nation states. Europe also had states like us, did not have nation states. Now everybody who talks about state, he or she has in mind nation states. Days have changed. The attempt is to bludgeon, steamroll a population in being a proper nationality, have a sense of nation and nationalism. A small minority in India thinks this way.
I think Javed has defined patriotism nicely, but his idea of nationalism is faulty in the sense that there is very clear difference. Patriotism is a sentiment, which we inherit from our mammalian past. Cats and dogs also have territoriality. Nationalism is a theory. It has behind it certain expectations that what you should believe and certain sections of population should believe. In Europe when nationalism came in the 17th century, nobody expected the aristocracy and the monarchies to be nationalist, because they were constantly inter-marrying. When you marry into a family, you become a nationalist for that country. Once Republicanism came into the picture, there was then a fear that presiding monarchies were symbol for State; they mediated between Heaven and earth too. Now you have nothing. They were constantly afraid that the state would fall apart. So, they promoted nationalism among the population. But it never touched the aristocrats. Tagore was right when he said that the attempt of India to build a nation is like Switzerland trying to build a Navy. I think that is the last world of Savarkar. Savarkar moved, from his earlier secular stand, to becoming a Hindu nationalist, when he became to feel that without a nationality you couldn't have a nation state. And he could not find an appropriate nationality in India and, therefore, he wanted to bludgeon Hindus into becoming a nationality; Hindus are a very cussed lot, they never would have never become that.
Ali Khan in Court, when he was accused of being disloyal and seditious, said, "I have been a citizen of Pakistan for 45 years, I have been a Muslim for 1400 years and a Pathan for 5000 years. I know my priorities." I think that explains the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism. Basically why can't you admit that India is only 65 years old. There has been Hinduism for thousands of years, Islam for 1500 years, Christianity for 2000 years. Why should not they have priorities? Earlier, people were expected to be patriotic on some occasions and fight for the state when it was attacked. Other times when they lived in their communities and were aligned to their communities they were patriotic, but not nationalist. This demand has come because communities have broken down and we are breaking them further. We believe that if we break them, somehow nationalism will survive.
Javed Akhtar: What is wrong with nationalism if it is in right proportions, if it is not too aggressive or jingoistism or xenophobia? Why do I feel happy when a girl from North East, perhaps where I will never go, gets a medal in boxing and I feel proud? Why do I get tears when I hear my national anthem? Why do I get a feel of awe when I look at my flag? A nation is a reality we cannot wish it away. I belong to this unit, just like I belong to the city, family. In the same way I belong to a nation. I do, whether it was made artificially or this way or that way, this is the history, today it exists and I am a member of that nation, it is my club.
NDTV: But if you talk about clubs, this whole Nation states; Mr Singh, in Parliament you have just come after a heated exchange, the Trinamool accusing you of being divisive, of wanting to divide the state of West Bengal because you made a strong political statement for Gorkhaland. In this current environment when we look at, one hand we look at India Nationalism etc. and yet we almost have the sub-nationalism when we look at splitting the Nation into different smaller states, Gorkhaland, Telengana, Vidharbha, all coming up. Do you actually believe beyond your constituency that this is a good thing, beyond Darjeeling? Do you support smaller states? Do you think this is a good thing for nationalism, when we have all these degrees of, I am from Telengana, I am from Hyderabad, I am from Vidharbha, and from Darjeeling, splitting up as well?
Jaswant Singh: Whether it's good or bad our experience has been mixed on it. In 3 earlier states, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand it is ultra mixed results. Have they been good administrators to answer to the demands that several chances and challenges of governance provide? Jharkhand is singularly a failure in there; the other two have mixed results. So far as Gorkhaland is concerned, I am convinced in my mind that the inhabitants of the Darjeeling district who would largely constitute the demand, who voice the demand for Gorkhaland have actually nothing in common with Bengal. That is a reality. They are culturally, socially, linguistically, in every sense, a separate identity. If the problem arises because Bengal psychologically feels that to further divide Bengal, having suffered two partitions, Curzon's Partition and the '47 Partition, there's a psychological barrier against further division calling it 'Banga Bhanga'. It's not Bengal. Darjeeling, when it came from Sikkim, was earlier attached to Bihar, then it was shifted and attached to Mymensingh, and when Mymensingh went to East Pakistan, it got attached to residual Bengal.
NDTV: So this new trend of going around correcting these so called historical wrongs, does it make sense? I mean how far will we go in this?
Jaswant Singh: We have to. I will tell you this, I will tell you why. I am of the view that an institution that we have introduced uniformly all over India called the State, The State; I don't come from what was British India therefore my experience is perhaps different. I believe that each of these 26 entities that were earlier called Native States had a distinct and a different identity. They were jealous of their history, their language, their realms, even the style of tying a pagri, each of them are still maintaining that difference. But what was Rajputana came together as Rajasthan. I often tell my friends, in all this horrible episode of partition, in what was Rajputana there was not a single incident of communal violence. There must have been some strengths of identity that supported it. It continues to be. Should there be therefore a Gorkhaland, identify a need for it, because they are distinctly away from what is Bengal. I find many faults with the State as India or the states. There is no Indian State, one state. There are many states and therefore we have an unsatisfactory federation union of States. It is a collection of States, less a union of States. We must recognise this because these states are now centrifugally pulling apart. Delhi for example no longer commands respect in these states. Neither of the two political parties can today get up and say now all the States are going to do what I say. The central authority of Delhi had weakened, weakened to the extent that we come to the stage of what Shah Alam gives to....
Javed Akhtar: Wah shahte Shah Alam, Nav Delhi ta Palam
Jaswant Singh: Hukumat-e-Shah- Alam.
Javed Akhtar: From Delhi to Parliament that is there.
Jaswant Singh: I felt very bad that I had to remind good Dr Manmohan Singh, that at least Shah Alam could run his government up to Palam; yours unfortunately gets limited to 7 Race Course Road. It's true. If Delhi loses its authority, the whole construct of what we said nations did, was structured on a British Imperial notion that Delhi was the centre therefore the whole of India was to focus on the centre. We used phrases that are no longer current: national integration, mainstream. How do you integrate with the mainstream when the mainstream has become a polluted municipal drain? But who is to. Don't want to hog the time, there are two phrases, a very great Indian he is no more, he used to be very touching, had an avuncular interest in me. That is the great Mr Haksar. And he told me Jaswant, do baat yaad rakhe. I can speak in Hindi?
NDTV: Of course.
Jaswant Singh: Sirf, do baat yaad rakhe, humare mulk ki mulkiyat mein do bahut zaroori baatey hai, ek hai sunvayi doosra hai iqbal. I don't want to go into translating that Iqbal because in every sense it's untranslatable. What has happened now in Delhi is, Delhi ka iqbal mar gaya hai and sunvayi nahi hai kyunki iqbal nahi isiliye sunvayi nahi aur sunvayi nahi isiliye iqbal nahi...
Javed Akhtar: I think Iqbal is dignity plus credibility. That is Iqbal
Jaswant Singh: With authority
Javed Akhtar: Yes, and authority, moral authority
Jaswant Singh: I'm sorry for interrupting
NDTV: Is there a quest for authority now? Is there a quest for authority when you, more and more young people's sense of outrage, their sense of anger, is there a quest for authority which restores pride in the sense of nationalism? So you said they should be careful that nationalism doesn't give negative connotations, but where pride, people are looking for pride in themselves?
Ashis Nandy: That also is dangerous because if you are looking for heroes, I think the play Galileo, there is this sentence, that "Unhappy is the land which requires heroes." I think.
Jaswant Singh: It's not so much heroes, it's really direction. The country needs direction...
Swapan Dasgupta: I think there is a quest for heroes. I think it's only natural, it has happened to all countries. Occasionally countries run on 'auto. We have never known a leader of Switzerland. I can't name anybody. Just like you can't name a Danish joke, which was the outrage at that time. Similarly India will always tend to look up to one figure. That figure could be different. Nirad Chaudhuri once said there is always one dictator in India, his name is Jawaharlal Nehru and the only person who doesn't know it is Jawaharlal Nehru. Now the point is every...
NDTV: Can you translate that into modern times? Which politician would you fit that to now?
Swapan Dasgupta: No, you don't. The point is Nehru, who was lauded as a democrat, took arbitrary decisions. This is going to be the national dress. Why should that be the national dress and not my dhoti, I wonder? And why should there be a national dress?
Ashis Nandy: That is important....
Swapan Dasgupta: I want to start a Planning Commission. It's not there in the Constitution. Because that's what the flights of whimsy, it was his idea. But people took it because they were looking up to a certain figure, after the death of Gandhi in particular. So certain periods, Indira Gandhi, the more she was attacked by the intelligentsia, more she revelled in it, if you recall the history. But not everything she did was necessarily right, but she had a certain mass backing of course, but she exceeded authority, you know the outcome. So I think there has always been an India, a quest just like in Bollywood, which Javed would be familiar with, you create a hero. Sometimes it can be the angry young man; sometimes it can be the romantic figure. Sometimes it can even be the benign patriarch like Pran.
NDTV: Nationalism in Hindi films is black and white. None of the nuances you talk about. We have movies like Gaddar and other movies done by you as well. They are very clear about what nationalism is and the larger message that goes out, people of course want to see
Javed Akhtar: Yes. But at the same time films, which don't have nationalism in inverted commas, they also have nationalism, because they also have a certain culture, a certain tradition, and when it touches them, the latest film is Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Now it has become a super hit film. That is also nationalism in a way. So, I'm not plugging the film
Swapan Dasgupta: You get pride in someone who came fourth
NDTV: But in that, perhaps India, Pakistan...
Javed Akhtar: His life story, actually the film starts with his coming fourth. In the end, its somewhere else, his defeat is in the beginning of the film. It's a very well structured picture and why it has struck people? Why have they started identifying with Milkha? This kind of nationalism is positive. You...
Ashis Nandy: Why call it nationalism? Why can't you call it patriotism?
NDTV: Also the enemies are very well defined here. We know the enemy will be Pakistan. We don't know about his internal demons.
Javed Akhtar: I may not preach war. But when the Indian team is playing with Pakistan, obviously I'll be tense. I'll be on tenterhooks. It's a fact.
Ashis Nandy: But it is also a fact Javed, there in many things, which people will not imagine, that we share with other countries certain things. We do share. I mean Rabindranath Tagore probably holds the world record for being associated with the national anthem of three countries. Here is our writer of national anthem. He also wrote the Bangladesh national anthem and the Sri Lankan national anthem, he set the tune that's a world record.
NDTV: What about going beyond Rabindranath Tagore, also talk about BR Ambedkar and talk about his views of Nationalism and point that when you look at a larger community. But what about when you look at the internal contradictions within that? Until you address those, how can you look at the larger concept of nationalism as well, because BR Ambedkar had many issues with the nationalism model as first proposed by Mahatma Gandhi?
Jaswant Singh: It was a more tolerant period.
Ashis Nandy: More open. If you read actually it is a variation of patriotism rather than nationalism. Because nationalism in the European context, an English word itself, presumes a nation and a state should have one nation. And wherever there are a multiplicity of nations, they have taken a lot of care to throw them out.
Swapan Dasgupta: Britain calls itself three nations, England, Scotland, Wales. Four, if you include Northern Ireland as well. So you know it's not necessary that there is one country, which combines both. It has different nations and it has one nation state. So when the Communists used the term multinational country, India is a multinational country, initially it evoked a sense of outrage because they were using that with the right of secession built into it. Otherwise the formulation at one level is correct. We are various people, which have, by consent, agreed to a central authority. How that central authority is structured, whether it's rigid, whether it's federal, whether it's con-federal, I personally would prefer it, I think is something which is negotiable.
Jaswant Singh: The key was inspirational. Post '47 in the enormous generation of Spirit of India, the national feeling was ascendant. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru was a great human being. He was not a great Prime Minister and he was loved despite 1962. India forgave him. He couldn't forgive himself and within two years he was gone. But after partition his letter to the Late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal is a very touching document. I recommend it to everybody. He says now that as I see the death and destruction around me, and I begin to wonder whether I did, we did, the right thing. He had the greatness to come; Rajagopalachari was his sworn enemy with differences, he appoints him as the Governor General. He then goes to what was then Madras, and becomes the; he could accommodate, he could absorb, he could bear with differences, we have become much smaller....
Ashis Nandy: Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was the Cabinet Minister...
Jaswant Singh: Exactly, we have become so much smaller in mind, that we just simply cannot accommodate a different viewpoint. How can we construct the nation?
Swapan Dasgupta: That goes against the basic ethos of Indian Civilisation, certitudes are never a part of Indian Civilisation.
NDTV: So just in this final round of Dialogue, I'd really like to come to a conclusion. Looking at the final question on this night, 66 years old, when we look at what kind of Nationalism we should, India should have today, should we be looking at Modern-clusive? Should we be looking at perhaps a stronger sense of Nationalism or do we look at Nationalism, which is much more blended with the different issues of regionalism? Dr BR Ambedkar also said that 'minority voices need to be expressed much more' in the version of Nationalism in 1947. Just a thought for all of us? Mr Singh, why don't you start? What is the kind of Nationalism we look at?
Jaswant Singh: What sort of Nationalism? It has to be accommodative. It must be more inspirational. You can't be, it cannot be nationalism. In a country like India between Tamilnad and we just recently talked of Gorkhaland, what is similar? Dress, language, eating habits, none of that is similar, yet there is some thread which has connected them both to India, so it has to be inspirational. Sadly, that inspiration is today lacking. Who can provide the inspiration? Unfortunately we have so constructed the polity of our country that all inspiration must emanate from politics and that's where politics is failing India. Politicians are failing India.
NDTV: You maybe an outsider on this aspect but your party has proposed Hindu Nationalism and the saviour is perhaps Narendra Modi?
Jaswant Singh: No, I don't, I cannot be accommodated within the ambit of Hindu Nationalism, because that one time Vishnu Hindu Parishad, we had also said that Jaswant Singh is not a Hindu. I was astonished to hear that. I found it very amusing, because we live on the border of Sindh, that's where we have lived and had our village, unbroken for the last 1200 years, against all the movements so I...
Ashis Nandy: What was the reason they gave for that? VHP when it said he was not a Hindu, what was the reason they gave?
Jaswant Singh: My dear Ashis, I didn't then feel the necessity to ask them.
NDTV: We know the Jinnah episode, again some would say hyper-nationalism because for praising Jinnah you were considered not a good, not good enough.
Jaswant Singh: I didn't praise Jinnah. Unfortunately nobody read that book
NDTV: I did, I read it. People who criticize, but that's some of the dangers of hyper-nationalism perhaps.
Jaswant Singh: No, these are the dangers of 'sankochit', very limited, very narrow thinking. You cannot have an India of your dreams if you think of India in narrow confined lines
NDTV: Professor Nandy, final thoughts on that whole issue tonight?
Ashis Nandy: I think the final thought is that we should underplay our nationalism and give greater scope to undefined vague sentiment like Patriotism, because everybody is naturally territorial, whereas nationalism presumes some kind of exclusivity. It has always done so, and when we see all around us Nation States, where this exclusive idea of closeness, which Semitic breeds often have, you know is built into this with the chosen ones. Even America, the country is 200 years old, they claim the right to be chosen. They are chosen people. This you cannot reconcile with our traditions at all. Our traditions can be quite comfortable with the fact that our land boundaries are defined by lines, there is no natural land boundaries, you know, Durand line, McMahon Line...
NDTV: LoC, LaC,
Ashis Nandy: Ochterlony Line, and LoC and so on and so forth which are all man-made lines and Meghnad Desai pointed out, that our line borders are entirely defined by lines by the British first of all, and now LoC is our only original contribution. So in this kind of a world we should remain the, remain what we are, we should make this demand of Nationalism first and then what you are. You should think of it as a part of repertoire, because I think all Indians naturally feel a cultural continuity and that continuity even extends beyond the borders of India to some extent. We still go to fight Pakistan and the Indian Army marches to the tune of 'Saare Jahan Se Accha ' by the national poet of Pakistan. Nobody has objected to that; exactly as none of the fundamentalist groups in Bangladesh have suggested that to change their national anthem. Pakistan national anthem was first written by a Hindu and changed.
Javed Akhtar: The latest is from Jalandhar, Hafeez Jalandhari so we should draw that satisfaction
Ashis Nandy: Hamid Jalandhari
Javed Akhtar: Yes, yes, Hameed Jalandhari.
NDTV: Javed Sahab, Indian first as a positive, not looking at Nationalism as a negative form, do you think we can achieve that without subsuming other identities?
Javed Akhtar: First of all where is the need of first, second, third or fourth? As a matter of fact he said very rightly that when India is playing with Pakistan or Australia or West Indies then we are Indians. When Bombay is playing with Baroda I am from Bombay, he is from Baroda, so we are not a single identity, we are a collage of identities then. In different situations one identity or the other becomes important. But the fact remains that there are nation states. There is identity. All the people who are sitting round this table are Indians, anybody will ask them where are you from? You will say you are in India, somebody outside India will criticise India, some non-Indian, you will feel bad. That's a fact. So the fact is that one of our identities, is we should feel proud of it, let's not be arrogant. There is a difference between pride and arrogance. When it enters the area of arrogance then you become xenophobic, you become aggressive, you start hating each other. As far as Hindu Nationalism and Muslim Nationalism is concerned I think all those who desire for Hindu national identity, they should look across the border where there is one God, one Prophet, one book and they are killing each other. Religion cannot make a Nation that is for sure. Only friendship, love and mature understanding of each other's differences, because if you put people of the same religion also, they will find differences. There are two kinds of people in the world, people who are exclusive, people who are inclusive. People who are exclusive, who keep excluding, they will keep on peeling the onions of this race to find the reality. And onion is in the layers. That's all.
NDTV: Very valuable current moment, our onions, Sir. Swapan, so when you look at politics as a keen political observer, when you look at this whole theme which rose, of Hindu Nationalism, do you think it's a theme that won't survive that long? That perhaps it's back to India first? That was also a BJP slogan under Modi.
Swapan Dasgupta: Firstly I don't think Hindu Nationalism is seriously not the agenda and I think you are guilty, a little misrepresentation, when you talk about the person concerned. If you are talking about Narendra Modi, he was asked, he said I am nationalist; I was born a Hindu, so that makes me a Hindu Nationalist. I guess. Now if you, that is the definition...
Javed Akhtar: Sorry, it is not as simple. Somebody says I am a nationalist, I was born a Muslim so I am a Muslim nationalist. What does that mean? Hindu nationalist comes from RSS, Hindu nationalist comes from Savarkar, don't give him a clean chit...
Ashis Nandy: Nationalism is always a theory always as a ideological..
Swapan Dasgupta: I know posters came out
Javed Akhtar: You are Hindu and a nationalist fine, but if you are a Hindu nationalist, then goodbye.
Swapan Dasgupta: Look I don't think we need to see this. I think India is; exists at various levels. There is, at one level, civilisational state we talked about. We all broadly agree that it is made up of various mixes and it's often goes beyond territoriality. That is I think, its, that is India. But at the same time I think we really have to examine, and I would agree that yes, there are times when we see that nationalism from an assertive time. Now where are these times in India when nationalism has become very assertive? Last occasion we saw it was being very, very assertive was during the freedom struggle, when that form of nationalism, which often meant you know, we must kick out. You know some of the, if we look at some of the stuff which was written in the vernacular press at that time, that would come under race hatred in today's context. But the reason was because we felt we were a defeated people. We needed something to cling onto. We needed to deify something. We needed to put something on a pedestal, have an ideal, maybe in our own minds think we are much better, what we are made of. We want to get over a humiliation. What I see today is a sense of profound disgust at what is happening and the disgust, they feel, can be overcome by an assertion of Indianess. Now I don't think most people are aware of what this Indianess they are striving for is. They have different ideas of what it is. They can say India first, some of them say Hindu nationalism, someone might say something else, someone we need to go out, become more of a world citizen, and you know fit India somewhere in between. There are various conflicting impulses, and I think the point really is that today's nationalism has not yet been structured and I am very glad it is, has not been structured, because the moment it gets structured there are these dangers, which you rightly at times point to. That may be a current, but that is not the dominant, as long as there is nebulousness. But there is a desire, a fanatical desire. Let India be great. If that is the Nationalism, I think ultimately that is positive.
NDTV: Well we have to end this Dialogue tonight. It's been wonderful speaking to all of you and getting different perspectives on this issue, defining nationalism, thank you very much for joining me this evening. Thank You.