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Don’t pressure people to be patriots

Respect for the flag and standing up for the anthem should be driven by emotion, not law.

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Hindu Yuva Vahini vigilante members participate in a rally in the city of Unnao, April 5. Is it patriotic for vigilantes who in a show of patriotism for the sacred cow, insult, beleaguer and not hesitate to kill ordinary folk? Vigilantes do it to protect their misplaced cultural identity.(REUTERS)

Hindu Yuva Vahini vigilante members participate in a rally in the city of Unnao, April 5. Is it patriotic for vigilantes who in a show of patriotism for the sacred cow, insult, beleaguer and not hesitate to kill ordinary folk? Vigilantes do it to protect their misplaced cultural identity.(REUTERS)

I love my country, right or wrong, is an attribute of nationalism. But is it patriotism to stand up and be counted when my country led by the government navigates a path which is inconsistent with our constitutional values. Was it unpatriotic to be a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War? Was the ‘Arab Spring’ at Tahrir Square unpatriotic? Was it patriotic for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to have attempted to disrupt the national movement and support a colonial power? Was it patriotic for the Sangh not to have participated in the Satyagraha?

We must not confuse our love for the country in protecting her identity with our right to dissent. It is not unpatriotic to oppose the government when it is behaving dishonestly, foolishly or viciously.

Patriotism is an emotive response, which manifests itself in action to protect an identity of which we are an integral part. That identity is the result of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic affinity shared historically over a period of time. Within the contours of territory, shared experiences of people identifying with each other become the foundation of nationalism. The symbol of that identity, and every Nation has one, is its national flag. When unfurled, people identify themselves with it. Their patriotism does not depend on externalities. People should not be forced to demonstrate that they love their country and respect their national flag. I do not wear my patriotism on my sleeves. Others should also not be required to do so.

I am a patriot as long as I respect the rights and sensibilities of others, pay my taxes, inculcate the right values in my kids. I should not have to carry my mother’s photograph in my wallet to prove to her that I love her. Today, the flag has been made a logo – the “trademark of a monopoly on patriotism”. I do not doubt the patriotism of those in government; I only question their policies. Those who pin the national flag on their lapels are no greater patriots than those who don’t.

Now, our patriotism may be questioned if we do not stand up in a cinema hall when the national anthem is played. I wonder how many of us stand up in our homes watching the national anthem on television. If we don’t, are we to be regarded as unpatriotic?

My problem with this mandating prescription is that it is fundamentally wrong for people to have to demonstrate that they are patriotic. The act of standing up in a cinema hall is not an act of volition. Patriotism reflects in my response to protect the identity of not just myself but of millions of which I am a part. Only in situations which should evoke such a response is true patriotism tested.

Patriotism and nationalism are two different concepts. We must not confuse the two.

Is it then patriotic for vigilantes who in a show of patriotism for the sacred cow insult, beleaguer and not hesitate to kill ordinary folk? Vigilantes do it to protect their misplaced cultural identity. Their response is not emotive qua the sacred animal. It is in fact motivated to demonstrate and propagate that identity with which the victims of violence have no emotive affinity. The victims may be dealing with the sacred animal to trade or nourish it for their livelihood. Yet to do such acts under the present dispensation is considered patriotic and thus justified.

Instead such acts of violence create fissures in an identity which is historically shared by people, who together have fought wars and shed their blood to assert their identity. They together challenged the supremacy of the white man and humbled a colonial empire. They together forged a permanent identity based on cultural, linguistic, religious diversity coalescing because of shared values and a shared history. That is what we need to protect. True patriots are those who protect diversity – linguistic, cultural and ethnic.

The State and Institutions including courts should not test patriotism. Our patriotism is tested on a daily basis by our activities in the way we live and the way we deal with each other. A soldier’s patriotism is tested when he is confronted with the enemy and is willing to risk his life to save the identity of which he is an integral part.

The patriotism of a lawyer is tested when he is, despite opposition, prepared to protect the victims of injustice. A doctor will emotively demonstrate his patriotism when he goes out of the way to save lives though in the process he might endanger his own. A patriotic businessman will not participate in transactions that are dishonest. Smugglers, terrorists and perpetrators of violence who kill for partisan ends cannot be patriots.

It is possible that Courts wish to instill a sense of patriotism by having audiences stand up in a cinema hall. We cannot doubt the intention of the Court. But standing up in a movie hall for the National Anthem is not necessarily an emotive response. The audience must stand up because otherwise under the law, they will be prosecuted for insulting the flag. The mandate of the law does not make true patriots.

Kapil Sibal is a former human resource development minister

The views expressed are personal

This article is published by Hindustan Times.

India

Centre has 15 new rail projects for Northeast, says Modi

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Aizwal, Dec 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday the Centre is committed to put all the state capitals of the northeast on the rail map and is executing 15 new projects in the region.

“We are committed to bring all the state capitals of the northeast region on the rail map. The government of India is executing 15 new rail line projects of 1,385 km length, at a cost of over Rs 47,000 crore,” Modi said during his visit to Mizoram.

“It is said that the lack of connectivity is one of the biggest hurdles in the path of development of the Northeastern region,” Modi noted, adding: “My government wants to do ‘transformation by transportation’ through investment in infrastructure…”

He said the Centre has been proactively following the ‘Act East Policy’. “As a gate-way to South East Asia, Mizoram stands to gain immensely from this. It can emerge as a key transit point for trade with Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said the Prime Minister.

The vision of New India can be realised only if fruits of development reach all, he said.

The Centre plans to focus on around 115 districts which are relatively backward when evaluated on various indicators. This will benefit backward districts of Northeastern states, including Mizoram, said Modi.

“In the spirit of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” every Indian, irrespective of caste, gender, religion, class must have equal opportunities to partake in the new prosperity,” he added.

Modi was in Mizoram to inaugurate the 60 MW Tuirial Hydro Electric Power Project (HEPP). He dedicated the project to the people saying it will boost the socio-economic development of the state.

Tuirial Hydropower Project is the first major central government project to be successfully commissioned in Mizoram, Modi said, also adding that besides electricity the reservoir water will also open new avenues for navigation.

“This will provide connectivity to remote villages. The huge reservoir, spread over an area of 45 square km, can also be used for development of fisheries,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the project would boost eco-tourism and provide a source of assured drinking water supply.

He said the project was first cleared by the union government of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, way back in 1998 but got delayed.

“The completion of this project is a reflection of our commitment to complete ongoing projects and usher in a new era of development in the Northeastern region,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister also said that during the tenure of Vajpayee, significant work was done for the development of the Northeast.

“We have taken forward this vision and are devoting resources for the progress of the Northeast. My ministerial colleagues are frequently visiting the Northeast,” Modi said.

“There have been over 150 ministerial visits. Our initiative – the Ministry of DoNER at your doorstep has added impetus to the development of the Northeast. It has enabled us to understand the aspirations of the Northeast even better,” he added.

Modi also said that he was delighted to be in Mizoram and this was his first visit as Prime Minister as he had visited the state before also.

“I admire the beauty and friendly nature of the people,” he said.

“The high literacy rate, scenic beauty and availability of large English-speaking population in Mizoram make for a perfect blend to develop the state as a model tourist destination,” said the Prime Minister.

IANS

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India

Delhi Gang Rape: Five years on, Nibharya’s mother hopes for justice

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Nirbhaya Mother

New Delhi, Dec 16: Five years since December 16, 2012 gang-rape case of Nirbhaya, the mother of victim Asha Devi Singh expressed hope for justice as the culprits are still alive.

“Even after 5 years, her culprits are alive. If justice isn’t served on time, people cease to be scared of law”, Nirbhaya’s mother said, news agency ANI quoted.

She stated, there is a need for the formulation of strong law, adding the mindset of everyone be it a politician or a common man, needs to be changed.

On this day, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gangraped by six men in a moving charter bus in the national capital which left everyone stunned. After thirteen days, the victim succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital.

The shocking incident had triggered a nation-wide outrage over violence against women in the country.

The four convicts – Pawan, Vinay, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Kumar Singh – were granted death sentence by the High Court.

While, the fifth accused, Ram Singh, found hanged in the jail.  The juvenile accused has been released after completing mandatory probation period in a remand home.

nirbhaya

Following this, on May 5 this year, the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of all four convicts.

Last month, the chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) issued a notice to Tihar Jail Administration and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) South District asking why Nirbhaya rapists not executed yet.

The step was taken as Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi in a complaint to DCW asked why death sentence has not been given carried out even after five months of Supreme Court’s verdict in Nirbhaya gangrape case.

In the notice, she has questioned that even after five months of Supreme Court’s verdict, why the accused have not been hanged. She also mentioned whether the Tihar Jail officials have issued an order of death sentence to the four accused. If the order has been issued, then reasons for not adhering to the order.

The Commission has sought a reply from the officials and DCP to the aforementioned inquiries by November 6.

Further DCW’s Chairperson expressed disappointment over delay in the execution and providing justice to Nirbhaya. Nirbhaya’s mother and the entire nation who are pleading for justice are yet to receive it. She demanded that the convicts must be hanged at the earliest.

WeForNews 

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India

Policeman attempts to fire at Kamal Nath

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.

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Kamal Nath

As per Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tanka, a policeman tried to fire his rifle at senior Congress leader Kamal Nath at the Chhindwara airstrip in Madhya Pradesh. The policeman was overpowered by the security personnel present at the airstrip and has now been placed under suspension.

Rajya Sabha MP and advocate Vivek Tankha posted two tweets informing about the incidence.

Kamal Nath represents Chhindwara in Loksabha and is presently the longest serving member of the Indian Parliament. He has been elected nine times from Chhindwara.

He has won every election since 1980 with the sole exception of elections to 11th Loksabha in 1996.

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