The Nationalism of the Ballot Box

The colonial racist segregation of black and brown as wild and exotic is twice born in our times. The white supremacist who otherized the indigenous other has a new parallel in our country. While the white colonizers largely assumed that the indigenous people were on the edge of history, the neo-colonialist, the mimic men of the colonizers assume a section of the sons and daughters of mother India as illegitimate and push them on the edge of citizenship in free India. There appears to be a crass narcissistic line that underpins the attitude of the neo-colonialist in our county as they appear to base their nationalism on the discrimination and exclusion of those they deem as not like themselves. In a free India, the otherized and minoritized people still have to deal with the new imperial systems of domination that continuously remind them that they are not Indian enough. This politics of out-sidering has rendered the otherized citizens who also pay taxes to the state of India like any one of us  into objects of suspicion, fear and hatred.  

The objectified, otherized and minoritized citizens of India are made to feel to be under the gaze of the neo-colonialists who lead them to internalize the myth that are not Indian enough. This produces a sense of being out-sidered and alienated.   The intolerance of otherness as well a deep emotional investment in the myth of sameness that can be traced amidst the elitist neo-colonialists in our country is a reincarnation of the colonial era that inferiorized us and destroyed our self-esteem and confidence. Just as the white culture was imperialized under colonization, in a free India the elitist culture of a section of the people puts on the mask of nationalism. This masked nationalism has acquired primacy and rendered every shade of otherness that adorns our mother India invisible. This concealing of the plural and other ways of being legitimate Indians can often lead to de-sensitization and numbing of our collective consciousness to the plight of the invisiblelized minorities in our country. 

The cultural erasure of a section of sons and daughters of mother India, in a Post-colonial free India, manifests that colonization has not ended with the coming of our political freedom. Like the colonizers who relegated the majority of the indigenous people to the realm of the invisible, the neo-colonialists appear to mimic the same practice by banishing the minorities to the realm of the invisible. This politics of erasure reinforces the pretence of invisibility of the traces of colonizers residing in the neo-colonialists of our days. The reining elitist neo-colonialists appear to be unaware that they have become clones of the colonizers and that in the final analysis so called their nationalism is nothing short of being anti-national. Hence, patriotic Indians are duty bound to bring into the realm of visibility the invisible colonizer residing in the ruling elite. There is need to expand the horizons of the imagination of nationalism in our country. There is also a need of exposing how banishing of the minorities to the realm of invisibility has put on the mask of goodness and high moral value although it is demeaning and de-humanizing  

We might have to critically reflect on how the narrow nationalism makes its presence felt in the life and consciousness of the minoritized, otherized and disenfranchised citizens of India. Most often it is felt as a terrorizing imposition of power that wounds, hurts and even tortures. Hence, a nationalism that is imagined as a cultural glue of our mother India  certainly victimizes it’s demonized other and is   disruptive and has a corruptive influence over several innocent Indians.   A nationalism that turns its back on the minorities and the vulnerable sections of its citizenry cannot claim any moral height of goodness and rectitude. That is why the value hierarchy might seem inverted and the minoritized, demonized and those banished to the realm of invisibility may stand morally higher in the context of the terrorizing presence of the narrow nationalism that only clones the colonizers among us.  Hence, the pretence of this form of nationalism has to be interrogated and derailed. This is urgent because they seem to be unaware how strange and threatening their form of nationalism appears to the critical consciousness of the minority.  This sense of fear and terror can only be felt by the minorities in our county while the majority community can only learn it second hand.  Caught in a socially engineered climate of hate, the minority community is often forced to ask why they are afraid of their own people who in the final analysis might share biological kinship with them. Often this translates into feeling that views own people as enemies and our nation as a hostile territory. Perhaps this spirals and fuels into fodder to be exploited by the politicians for electoral gains.   

Nationalism that is at the service of the ballot box certainly lacks the true spirit of the nation in a free India. The narrow nationalism is re-enacting the colonial practices and has become an imperialist nostalgia that continuously seduces the ruling elite into the imitation of the ways of the colonizers in their quest for domination and power.  Like the colonizers, these new power elites continue to unhome the minorities, the dalits, women and the tribals in a free India. Hence, authentic freedom still remains a utopian dream in an independent India. This means independent India is not necessarily a free India.  The struggle for freedom is not over. We have achieved political freedom and we are still far away from social freedom in our country. Hence, the nationalism of the ballot box cannot claim height of moral goodness and values inscribed in the plural ethos and traditions of our country.  Nationalism of the ballot box is merely at the service of political power, hence, lacks the authentic spirit of India. Such nationalism does not incarnate the very idea of India and fails to be authentically Indian. The nationalism of the ballot box lacks the vision of social democracy and is deeply  laden in the evils of caste, creed and gender discriminations. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao