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Life Mantras author Subrata Roy on nationalism, patriotism, and freedom of speech

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The word that has recently been discussed, debated and altercated the most is ‘nationalism’. Is what we follow pinched-up and narrowed or is it too slack to incorporate all the loose ends? Is the intolerance seeping in the system brewing anti-nationalist sentiment or is it the other way round? Questions are many but one cannot deny the simple fact that the multiplicity of opinions and interpretations have caused complexities very hard to pin down. The country needs to ensure that the concept of nationalism cannot be imposed, it’s a right and so, political vendetta should not translate it into jingoism.

Subrata Roy, the owner of Sahara Pariwar and the author of many books including the best-selling Life Mantras talks about his views on the much heated issue of nationalism, of patriotism and of freedom of speech. He said, “If I am asked to define the word nationalism’ in one line, I would say it’s synonymous with “performing all genuine and justifiable duties towards the nation as per the need of the hour”. When we talk about the duty towards the nation, it consists of the welfare of the people and safeguarding their interests, to religiously follow the Constitution with enthusiasm and sincerity, and perform our respective roles as ethical and law-abiding members of the society.

Definitions

To understand nationalism, patriotism and freedom of speech, we need to first understand the concept of one’s rights and duties. A sepoy, for instance, is given a gallantry award if he kills the maximum number of enemy soldiers on the battlefield. But if the same sepoy kills a man in his village owing to his personal rift, he is punished as per law.

So, the meaning is simple and absolutely clear: “Rights are given to perform our genuine duties and definitely not to serve our whims, fancies or greed or perform wrongful acts or to come out with wrong expressions.”

In our society most people know their rights very well, but they do not have any sense of duty. Nationalism can only be defined or understood once we are clear about our rights and duties.

Yes, as citizens, we have the right to complain, debate, express our agony, our problems and even fight for our legitimate rights. We have the right to talk about the hazards, the threats to our nation’s progress, but it has to be logical, and not out of our whims and that too in the right forum and in a most respectful way.

To understand the problems in our country, we need to realize the difference between literacy and education. Some highly literate people, the so-called Intellectuals, are absolutely confused and thus are confusing, misguiding the common man and in trying to prove their points they are creating an impression of being superior to others and their philosophy being beyond the reach of the commoner.

What is lacking in them is a proper understanding of the basic truths with which we all are born. Some of these people indulge in a kind of wrong advocacy of nationalism, freedom of speech and patriotism, for despite being highly literate (highly qualified), they lack sound education.

The point I am trying to make is that education is important in life, and not just literacy. We have to remember that literacy (educational qualification) is a factor of the external personality (the material personality) of a human being, whereas education is a factor of the internal personality (the spiritual personality — that is, the internal characteristics of a human being). Literacy only characterizes the external person, but education characterizes the internal personality. And it is the internal personality of a human being that is important. In fact, the most literate person on earth who is not at all educated may turn out to be a failure and an unhappy human being, but the one who is less literate yet highly educated will definitely be a successful and a happy human being. So, I would say that a high level of literacy without sound education is of little importance.

Civility

Now let us look at freedom of speech which is our fundamental right, as enshrined in the Constitution. Freedom of speech is definitely our right but when it comes to speaking out, will you abuse or tolerate abuse against your family regardless of the conflict?

Even if you feel that they are in the wrong you shall not resort to abuse or foul language, but shall vehemently protest, while maintaining a level of civility and respect, with a sense of the place you are in, the suitability or unsuitability of time and the people around (a keen observance of sthan, kual and patra). So, freedom of speech should be the expression which is justified, logical and appropriate but which also carries with it a level of respect for the other or for the country.”

To conclude what Subrata says, one can say that for him, nationalism is about having the right conviction that ultimately is driven in the direction of national upliftment. Freedom of speech is undeniably a right but what runs conjointly is a moral sense of the right and the wrong, which may not be penalizable, but which needs to be understood and followed.