16 March 2016| 5:00 PM: Notable speaker and retired faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems (CSSS), Prof. Anand Kumar delivered his lecture on Nationalism and National Unity in India at the Ad Block yesterday evening highlighting that any attempt to assert exclusive nationalism will lead to destruction. The lecture started at 6.30pm and lasted for a good 45 minutes followed by a question-answer session.
Prof. Anand Kumar said that India is a complicated nation and a nation is always about the “we feeling”; any attempt to homogenise nationalism and ignore the individual ideas that exist within will tamper this “we feeling”. India takes over from a European model where homogenisation processes were the base of nation-building. Prof. Kumar exemplified this by talking about Russia and France. Ignoring locality, particularity and ethnicity will lead to failure if India goes along the same path, he asserted.
Anand Kumar emphasised that nationalism is of no use without individuality, ethnicity and diversity. He gave the examples of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka where homogenisation processes resulted in conflicts and Bangladesh became a country when Pakistan tried to impose Urdu on Bengali speaking people. He said that it is not religion but culture and civilisation that help in uniting people and any attempt to neglect its particularities can create problems because civilizational identity is above national identity.
Prof. Anand Kumar’s lecture was preceded by a class conducted by Dr Gopalji Pradhan, faculty member at AUD, who unpacked the concept of ‘patriotism’ in the light of the recent debates on ‘nationalism’. The evening ended with solidarity address by students from Jadavpur University, Kolkata and Prof. Elina Sen from TISS, Mumbai.
Iqbal Vavad is an MPhil student at CSSS and works for the News Pool of The Informer.