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Home > 2021 > Many faces of ’National Interests’ | T J S George

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 46, New Delhi, October 30, 2021

Many faces of ’National Interests’ | T J S George

Friday 29 October 2021, by T J S George

IMPRESSIONS

"National interests" has become a phrase that challenges the citizen, frightens him and threatens him all at once. In a vibrant democracy like India, it won’t be easy to come across two people who agree on what is "national interests." Narendra Modi’s idea of "national interests" certainly will not be the same as Rahul Gandhi’s idea of it. Mamata Banerjee will have her own interpretation of the idea and Pinarayi Vijayan’s will be different from that of all the others. Yet all of them are honestly committed to the national interests of India because those interests are the life blood of all parties and all politicians.

In such a situation, only narrow-minded partisan politics can make a minister like Piyush Goyal accuse a company like Tatas of "not working in the national interest." Adding masala to the situation, RSS organ Panchjanya accused Infosys of being in cahoot with leftists and "tukde-tukde gangs." No wonder poet activist Javed Akhtar compared the RSS with the Taliban. He was warned by an RSS leader that his films would not be allowed to be screened — a pucca Taliban-style threat.

Piyush Goyal’s attitude is not patriotic as he claimed. In fact, it is un-Indian. This became clear when, at the annual meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry, he went on to say that: "Industries in our country are not working in the interests of the nation and are simply going against India." So extremist a standpoint shocked even government circles. The Confederation of Indian Industry pulled down the video from its You Tube channel.

How many Indians will agree that Tatas and Infosys are working against the interests of India while Piyush Goyal is fighting in defence of India? Of course there are black sheep among industries, just as there are black sheep among politicians. But Goyal picked the whitest of the white sheep to back up his argument. Naturally, he convinced no one.

Tatas had managed Air India with efficiency and grace. Memories of those magical days were revived when it became known that the airline was going back to Tatas. The so-called Atmanirbharan policy of the Government had meant nothing to the airline when it was in the hands of the state. Goyal, too, must have seen, unless he is blind, that the airline was almost destroyed.

The inability of leaders to agree even on the management of democracy says something about our brand of democracy. Perhaps this should help us understand why international standards of democracy puts India very much in the back rows. Gothenburg University’s ratings sees India "on a path of steep decline, to the extent it has almost lost its status as a democracy."

Once India was known for the qualities Will Durant mentioned in his famous "The story of Civilisation." The qualities he listed were: Tolerance and gentleness of mature mind; the quiet contentment of the unacquisitive soul; the clam of the compassionate spirit; and a unifying, pacifying love for all living beings.

That India has given way to a different India of which a BJP worker in Thuraiyur in Tamil Nadu looked a true symbol. He built a temple and installed a Vigraha of Prime Minister Modi in the sanctorum and people came from nearby areas to worship the idol. To be on the safe side, he quickly added to the walls of the temple photographs of MGR, Jayalalithaa and also Edappadi Palaniswami, Chief Minister in 2017. His explanation was that he saw Modi as "a god who has come to develop India." In Rajkot like-minded admirers built a temple and installed Modi as the deity there.

Democracy in India has become unrecognizable as democracy. It can well be said that democracy has undone what culture had made of India. Can we say today that India is a "nation state?" That respected entity is defined as "a state in which the great majority shares the same culture and is conscious of it." In the political entity that India has become, can we say that a great majority shares the same politics? In fact, politically India has become quite a divided country.

Researchers in Berkley University once found that, as people’s level of wealth increased, their feelings of compassion went down and their sense of "entitlement, of deservingness, and their ideology of self-interest increases."

It is clear that a sense of deservingness has spread among the desh-vasiyo as the Prime Minister fondly addresses the people. Inspired by Modi, wives have started addressing their husbands as mere pyare dish-washiyo. Jai Hind.

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