Nationalism's Hunger

The Great Wall of Ahmedabad: symbol of Modi's poverty policy
Image from The Hindu

The ‘Hunger Watch’ survey conducted in Gujarat by Anna Suraksha Adhikar Abhiyan [ASAA] reveals that one out of every 5 persons in the marginalised communities of the state go hungry in these pandemic times. Some of them do not have even a single meal on certain days. This is happening in a state that has been projected as a model for development over decades.

With a tragic irony, we should note that the same person who brought about that pathetic condition in Gujarat is ruling the country today. He has met every opposition to his imperial rule, every demand for justice and human rights, with an iron fist. He suppressed the protests against Citizenship Bill and Act. He spent a huge sum of money to erect a wall meant to hide a slum from visiting Donald Trump. The money spent on the wall would have been enough to rehabilitate the slum dwellers, to give them a life of dignity. But Modi chose to hide the community behind a wall because it is a community that he hates.

The farmers agitating now for weeks are not Modi’s pet enemies. Yet their struggle is being suppressed with all brutality and cunning that Modi has displayed throughout his political career. He had no qualms about digging trenches on highways in order to impede the movement of the farmers, let alone the water cannons in the winter freeze.

What kind of a ruler is it who hates so many of his people?

A nationalist. That’s the obvious answer. Since he is doing all these in the name of sacred nationalism, he gets the support of the majority community in the country.

Nationalism and religion are alike, said sociologist Mark Juergensmeyer. Religion and nationalism both provide an overreaching framework of moral order which is perceived by followers as sacred and inviolable. Modi’s success lies precisely in his shrewd skill to project himself as a great nationalist – a messianic figure, in effect.

Religion blinds the devotees. We have seen the most brutal acts of cruelty being justified in the name of religion. The same thing is happening in Modi’s India. We can spend Rs 20,000 on beautifying the capital city when millions of citizens are teetering on the edge of starvation and death. A temple is more important than the people’s welfare. A wall that conceals a slum is the ideal symbol of the ruling dispensation today. But bhakti has a different view. Bhakti is driven by a strange hunger. That hunger sustains Modi and his supporters.


  1. Your views are agreeable. Let me add that nationalism in itself is not condemnable but the trouble lies in the intentions of the people using the 'term'(who are genuinely not nationalists). Mahatma Gandhi was a great nationalist. But even before that he was a humanist beyond comparison. That's why his nationalism is understandable (and acceptable). Present Indian prime minister's nationalism is pseudo. He won't pay two hoots even if the whole nation goes to hell subject to his power remaining intact. As per the ancient Indian philosophy, Udaar Charitaanaam Tu Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, i.e., the whole world is like a family for the broad-minded ones. The nationalism in Germany in the times of Hitler and the so-called nationalism on rampage in India now-a-days are definitely not the cup of tea of the broad-minded ones. The Indian premier's Bhakts are narrow-minded ones perceiving themselves as nationalists. And as far as himself (and his loudly pronounced nationalism) is concerned, it's better to recall the words of Dr. Samuel Johnson - Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

    1. Totally with you on this.

      Let me add this: Nationalism is redundant in a free nation. Gandhi's nationalism was required at that time. Patriotism is not the same as nationalism.


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