Published: 31st January 2018
Who is actually an Anti-National? Here's RSS vicharak and DU prof Rakesh Sinha's definition
Rakesh Sinha, Honorary Director, Indian Policy Foundation talks about the continuing nationalism debate and the change he wants brought in to universities that are fostering 'anti-nationals'
Debates of nationalism are everywhere — from your daily news to a random conversation at a local tea joint. But recently, many of us have begun to wonder who really is an anti-nationalist. While many have seemingly misused the term, calling any protester (university student or otherwise) an anti-nationalist, we have another group that jokes about the term constantly and even takes pride in being called an anti-nationalist.
At TNIE's ThinkEdu Conclave, we caught up with Rakesh Sinha, Honorary Director, India Policy Foundation to settle a few doubts. Who is an anti-nationalist? Why is there so much debate on this topic? Why are so many universities in the news for the wrong reasons? Questions aplenty! When we reached out to the DU professor, who is also an RSS ‘vicharak’, he said, "Democratic politics is a part of the Indian university system. It is a training ground for future politicians. But there are certain universities dominated by the left-wing parties. They have contempt for nationalism and calling India Bharat Mata. When you oppose that and say that Kashmir isn't a part of India and that India will be balkanised, there will be a protest. If this isn't anti-nationalism, then what is?"
Talk it out: Sinha shared the panel with Zafar Sareshwala and S Vaidyanathan
Sinha seemed clearly unhappy about university students supporting Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru. "They're dividing the country in the name of freedom of expression and are trying to divide the country," he says. He even opposes their views on the Kashmir issue and stresses on how Kashmir is still a part of India.
Now that anti-national ideas are spoken about, what about the current debate on nationalism? Sinha wasn't very impressed about that either. In fact, he calls it ‘tragic’ and says that it has to be curbed. "The present discussion of nationalism is very political and hence, it is losing its essence. It isn't a healthy symptom of a society. After 70 years of independence, people are debating if they should sing the national anthem or not. That is a tragedy," he says. But at the same time, he is happy that the masses, as common as the chaiwala, are debating the issue and hopes that it calls for a positive change.
Hinduism is a way of life. Every mountain or river is treated with respect. People call Ayodhya, Ayodhya ji. The respect gives us enormous strength
Rakesh Sinha, Honorary Director, Indian Policy Foundation
While we continued to wonder the meaning of a single Indian culture in the midst of diversity, Sinha shared his views on the topic. "When we talk of Indian culture, we talk of the essence that comes with unity in diversity. Because without diversity in culture, values or norms, India can't be imagined. Our civilisation is unique because we are the protectors of diversities. We also look at the future of diversity. There can be more religions, more sects, more philosophies and more philosophers," he says.
Sinha also calls for a better understanding of India's civilisational past in the current education system. "We have to explore our past not for the sake of it, but take lessons and be inspired. The past isn't the present or the future. There should be a symbiotic link between the three. We should take pride in our ancient history," he says.