When Saying Yes becomes Saying No

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Yes and No are normally viewed as opposites of each other.  When one says yes one cannot say no. But looking at the same from another angle can open us to the fact that several ‘no’s’ constitute what we call yes. Perhaps, an example may drive this home.  A man who is faithful to his yes given to his lady love will have to say no to all other ladies.  It is by saying no to other women that a faithful yes is made possible.  This means yes and no cannot be simply thought to be contradictory.  There is a profound relation between yes and no beyond the relation of exclusion. Beyond the relation of exclusion, there is an overlapping inclusion. That is why saying yes can be saying no.  This relation of yes to no is very important to face the discourse that frames dissenting Indians as anti-nationals. It seems that we are back into the colonial times when innocent Indians who opposed the colonizers were seen as the opponents of the colonial state.  Similarly today Indians who say no to Government policies are construed as enemies of the nation. But saying as to the Government cannot be equated as saying yes to the nation.  This oversimplified equation has to be contested and dismantled. This means saying no to the state can be profoundly national. Indeed, one’s love of one’s nation can lead one to say no to oppression and exploitation that is hiding under the cover of nationalism. 

The slash that separates yes and no is porous. The boundary between yes and no is breaking and there is a trace of yes on every no and vice versa.  The gap between yes and no has collapsed. This negotiation between yes and no is very important to resist the rigid posturing of nationalism and anti-nationalism in our country. This blackmail of well intending critics by framing them as antinational is itself enough to expose that all is not well with the present regime. The very attempt to censor and even silence opposition is indeed antinational.  That is why it is urgent that we contest the mind numbing strategies employed the present regime to legitimate their policies and claim that they are promoting the supreme good of our country. do these pseudo-nationalist  promote the supreme good of our country? The fact that the Government does not allow any dissent and alternate view, already shows that it cannot be called the agent of  the supreme good of our country. Certainly, the Government cannot have the sole access to what can be deemed as the supreme good of our country.   In a democracy there is always room for alternate visions of ultimate good as well as alternate modes of pursuing the same. Therefore, we have to allow room for alternate routes to what can be viewed as the ultimate good that the Government claims to deliver. How can the Government claim that the route it has chosen as the only route towards progress? We are told that route that the Government has chosen may not be perfect but since there are no alternatives, we have to put up with the same. We can trace this argumentation in defence of demonetization scheme. The implementation is imperfect but the intent is clean. Therefore, it is said that no one can question the Government.   

The fact that the Government appears to run away from the contestation and interrogation of its policies under the cover of nationalism is clearly visible. Besides, the brand of nationalism that provides cover to our Government  is not national enough.  it is already greeted as pseudo-nationalism.  Because it is not national enough, it does not come naturally to most of us and has to be promoted with aggression. That is why we can see the dark face that hides behind the mask of this narrow and pseudo-nationalism. This face has hate written all over it.   Besides, the word nationalism does not have a content of its own. It is acquires content and meaning from its use and context. This means the meaning that is evoked by the term can change from people to people and their contexts. India too does not have a singular monolithic view of nationalism. What is more alarming is how several national news channels have also become extended hands of the Government silencing all opposition to the government.  After being subjected to a monologue from all directions, can we think that democracy is alive in our country?  The deadlock continues as the reigning monologue refuses to open door to dialogue. It would be interesting to see how long we shall be able to tolerate this nauseating narrative forced on our throats from all directions. The bubble that we are forced to live is already threatening to burst.  Therefore, it is time that we recognise that saying no to the Government is saying yes to people of country. 

 We are not circus tamed animals who simply bow down to their master’s carrot and stick. The ban of alternate positions and views   by the force of pseudo-nationalism that we witness is a clear indication that we have slipped into fascism that closes all door to alternatives. The fact that we can see how all opposition is discredited by naming it as antinational is showing us that fascism is already alive and kicking in our country. This is why it is urgent that  we  respond to the process by which fascism is cashing on nationalism to avoid responsibility. Hence, first we need to open the monologue to make space for a dialogue or even a polylogue and restore the spirit of democracy amidst us .  Yes it is now time to say that our saying no is actually founded on the love of our country.  This would mean that we have to reclaim our right to be a dissenting Indians.  When we say No to the ruling class, we are saying Yes to India and its people.   Yes we can say No and still say yes to our country! we can proudly  be dissenting Indians. 


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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao