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34. Sandeep Pandey on J&K and nationalism
The concept of nationalism of bomb-supporters is limited to protecting the physical boundaries of their nation. They are not concerned about what happens to the people living within those boundaries or their sentiments. Their notion of nationalism stems from a traditional feudal mindset. It is linked to the idea of possession of material property.
In Phaloudi, while the peace-march rally through the town was blocked by the bomb supporters, they were advising the peace marchers to go back from Phaloudi and instead go to Kashmir to work for peace. However the peace marchers do not share a common vision of peace in Kashmir with the bomb supporters. What the bomb supporters would like to see in the name of peace in Kashmir is complete surrender of people of Kashmir , especially those belonging to a particular community, to the hegemony of Indian State, even if it may have to take place against the will of people, and more importantly the land of Kashmir should be in the possession of Indian State. They would not mind use of force to maintain this state of ´peace´. For the peace marchers, however, what is most important is the sentiments of the people of Kashmir. If Kashmir has to remain with India, they would like to ensure that the hearts of the people of Kashmir are with India rather than merely the piece of land on which they live. The concept of nation is like the concepts of religion and caste, which are artificial manmade ones. They are not natural. These concepts have played more divisive role than that of uniting human beings. They have been cause of strife and tension. A person believing in global peace would reject these concepts. The idea of nationalism can create illusions and misguide people. A person who may feel insecurity in his/her immediate environment is made to believe that he/she can be secure because of some bomb made for a far away enemy whom he/ she does not even know.
The concept of nationalism is used by the rulers to evoke sentiments so that we may forget about our real life worries. After all it is the leaders, irrespective of whichever party they belong to, who need to harp on this concept. Because if people stop accepting the concept of nation, what will the rulers rule on?
The concept of nation and nationalism should be buried in the interest of peace for greater humanity (excerpted from ´What does it mean to be a nationalist: Reflections from India´ (http://www.sacw.net/kargil/nationalism_meaning.html).
Our host here was Mr. Johal, President of the Committee, which runs the Gurdwara where we were to stay. He registered his protest as soon as we arrived, rejecting our position on the Kashmir issue as according to him, it favoured Pakistan. He believed that Kashmir was an integral part of India and only Indians had a right to decide about the future of Kashmir. It was obviously a narrow nationalist position, shared by some other Indians too.
We explained to him that the narrow nationalist view held by Indians from outside Kashmir, or for that matter Pakistanis outside Kashmir, was born out of a feudal mindset and in a world in which people were more sensitive to human rights violations and also a democratic way of thinking , the conventional nationalist Indian and Pakistani views could not be imposed on the people of Kashmir. Also, in a world where economic policy of globalisation is taking over, the concept of a nation state is weakening. We also pointed out that a major section of our societies, including dalits, tribals, women, and other marginalized sections, do not share the traditional concept of nationalism as they are busy with more basic struggles for life and livelihood (excerpted from ´View from the ground´ http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/apr2005-daily/26-04-2005/oped/o4.htm).
Note the phrases ´narrow nationalist ´ , ´conventional nationalist´, and ´traditional concept of nationalism´. The idea behind such deliberate coinage is to disassociate nationalism from its accepted ´conventional and traditional´ origins and to malign all things ´conventional and traditional´ as ´narrow´. Sandeep Pandey´s reference here to ´conventional and traditional´ is to Hindu conventional and traditional and not the Western conventional understanding of nationality and nation deriving from ´nation-state´. Stripped of its traditional and conventional origins, nationalism is as small and as changing as ´citizenship´. If nationalism is the same as citizenship, then an Indian Hindu could have been a British national 30 years ago, may be an Indian national today and possibly an American national 20 years later. If nationality is as changeable as a washing machine, nationalism is effectively de-linked from the sense of historical belonging to territory, thus de-sanctifying the territory of a nation and rendering national borders without sanctity. This is the core intention of all anti-nation activism. And, for Sandeep Pandey, ´Kashmiri´ clearly does not include the Kashmiri Hindu.