I fail to understand why people are so confounded by the term liberal. But I do understand when people fear or hate it. Liberalism and libertarianism are not against nationalism. It does however depend on the definitions you use.
In the wake of PM Modi’s reign in New Delhi, nationalism has seen a new usage. It is no secret that the BJP, RSS and VHP have long worked hard to promote their Hindutva agenda. Whatever connotations the term may have had, the BJP and its followers have taken to the “Hindu” part very seriously.
I believe it was at a rally in Shillong that a RSS spokesperson said that Hindus from Bangladesh are welcome in India. And yet no one took offense to it. I have seen people who say it is because they are persecuted in Bangladesh. And yet the RSS does not seem to offer the same sanctuary to the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.
But I digress. Nationalism in the wake of this BJP regime has given new life to the idea of building the nation based on a religious identity. And you can clearly see it happening, even though no one seems to want to talk about it. The BJP and its goons are performing a Hindu revival throughout the country.
This leads me to Pakistan. India has had 60+ years of tensions with Pakistan. At this point, I am confounded to say why. But suffice to say, we have never been on good terms. But recently, Indians have turned logic on its head. I do not know if anyone has noticed this but for some unknown (to me, at least) reason, we have come to associate anything Muslim with Pakistan. And since we hate Pakistan, we have come to hate Muslims. Why else would we try to deny our Mughal heritage? And some well placed propaganda from the right has only fueled this belief. The stress on Hindu heroes in history is admirable. But must it be done by defaming Muslims?
This is similar to what the Church did during the Crusades. Without understanding Islam, the church simply blacklisted it and vilified its members. It was also done with the Jews after the Renaissance started. How many times has anti semitism been blatantly preached from the pulpit?
But believe it or not, this is what nationalism means to a lot of people now. A religious identity within a certain geographic area for the demographic. There is no place for diversity, no place for minorities and no talk of dissent.
I will use this as evidence to restate my stance on one issue. No good has ever come from organized religion, especially if it follows the diktats of the older generations. Faith is supposed to be fluid. A miracle used to be a man walking on water. To me, today, a miracle is when a drug addict beats his addiction. As long as you allow old men to tell you what to believe in and how to prove your faith, you will always have problems with diversity.
That leads me to liberalism and libertarianism. To be liberal means to have differing views and beliefs and yet to learn to live and let live. To be liberal means to understand that there are many MANY things that one man or one group have absolutely no right to dictate for everyone else. To be liberal means to acknowledge the difficulties that each individual, each community goes through to maintain some semblance of “keeping up with the Joneses”. And to be liberal is to fight for the rights of those who cannot, even if you do not share their pain and suffering.
– By Gabriel B Nongsiej
The views expressed in this article belongs to the writer and TNT- The Northeast Today may or may not subscribe to the same views.