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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.



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.


Rahul targets Prasad over pendency of cases in courts

Justice K M Joseph, overturned President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016. When his name was proposed for the Supreme Court, Modi ji s ego was hurt. Approval of over 100 judges, cleared for the Supreme Court and various High Courts are now on hold. #JudiciaryDemonetised(sic).



rahul gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi today hit out at Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad over huge pendency of cases in courts and shortage of judges, and charged him with “peddling fake news” instead.

His attack came after Prasad accused the Congress of hiring the services of controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica, accused of harvesting data stolen from Facebook, in previous elections.

The charge has been denied by the Congress, which instead accused the BJP of using the services of the firm.

Legal system collapsing under Pending Cases: Supreme Court 55,000+, High Court 37 Lakh+, Lower Courts 2.6 Crore+. Yet, a staggering 400 High Court and 6,000 Lower Court judges not appointed, while Law Minister preoccupied peddling fake news, Gandhi said on Twitter, using the hashtag JudiciaryDemonetised .

He also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over delay in appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.

“Justice K M Joseph, overturned President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016. When his name was proposed for the Supreme Court, Modi ji s ego was hurt. Approval of over 100 judges, cleared for the Supreme Court and various High Courts are now on hold. #JudiciaryDemonetised(sic),” he said in another tweet.

The Congress and the BJP have been engaged in a slinging match between each other accusing the other of using the services of the controversial data firm.

The Facebook data scandal erupted after a whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm with ties to Trump’s 2016 campaign, accessed personal data from 50 million users of the website without their knowledge, and might have kept that data even after the social media giant told the company to delete it.

Prasad recently insisted that the Congress has used the services of Cambridge Analytica and said several media reports about the opposition party using the services of the firm had appeared in October and November last year and it never denied those stories till the BJP raised the issue.

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Karti Chidambaram protected from arrest till April 16 in Aircel-Maxis case



Karti Chidambaram

New Delhi, March 24: A special court here on Saturday granted interim protection from arrest, till April 16, to Karti Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

Special Judge O. P. Saini directed that Chidambaram, the son of former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, will not be arrested in the case till April 16, the next date fixed for hearing on his anticipatory bail plea.

The court meanwhile directed him to join investigation whenever required and not to leave the country without permission.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate has sought three more weeks to file reply on his anticipatory bail plea.

Karti Chidambaram’s advocate and senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that his client was arrested arbitrarily by the CBI in the INX media case and now he apprehends that he may be arrested in the instant case without any reason and sought interim protection from arrest till the probe agencies filed the reply in the matter.

The CBI is investigating how Karti Chidambaram allegedly managed to get a clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Aircel-Maxis deal when his father was the Finance Minister in 2006.

The special court, trying 2G cases, had discharged the Maran brothers – Dayanidhi and Kalanithi – in the case, holding that that there was no prima facie case warranting the framing of charges.

The CBI had chargesheeted Maran, his brother and businessman Kalanithi Maran and others alleging that Dayanidhi Maran used his influence to help Krishnan buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.

Sivasankaran alleged that Dayanidhi Maran favoured the Maxis Group in the takeover of his company. In return, he alleged, the company made investments through Astro Network in a company stated to be owned by the Maran family.


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Rajnath hails CRPF’s contribution in meeting security challenges



79th Raising Day - Rajnath Singh

Gurugram, March 24: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday hailed the CRPF for its contribution in facing various security challenges posed by terrorism, leftwing extremist violence and insurgents in the Northeast, saying the force played a prominent role in ensuring security for the country’s development.

Addressing the force personnel here on the occasion of CRPF’s 79th anniversary, he also recalled several incidents where the valiant CRPF troopers successfully thwarted miscreants’ evil designs and said the country is proud of it.

“The force played a prominent role in ensuring safety and security which is a prerequisite for the economic development of the country,” he said.

Urging the CRPF personnel to inform people about the government’s development programmes while highlighting anti-development activities of the Maoists, he said the central force was successful in inflicting heavy losses on Maoists who were using tactics of desperation as the battle is in the final stages.

Highlighting the multidimensional role of the force, he said whether it is Jammu and Kashmir, leftwing extremism, the northeast, elections or Internal security, the country looks up to the CRPF.

Terming Maoism a serious challenge, he said due to the gallant and determined action of the CRPF and other security forces, it has entered in its last phase.

Rajnath Singh said that incidents of leftwing extremism have drastically come down in the recent past and the casualty rate of the rebels has gone up, noting that during 2017-18, the force gunned down 172 extremists while losing 63 of its personnel.

Maoists are now resorting to coward ambushes against security forces as they are unable to undertake a direct fight, he said, and also paid tributes to the 9 troopers who were killed in a blast in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma early this month.

The minister praised the courage of CRPF Commandant Chetan Cheetah who took nine bullets during an operation in Kashmir valley last year and displayed rare grit during recuperation. Cheeta joined duty few days back at the force headquarters in Delhi.

Assuring the troopers better facilities, including accommodation, he also also presented various police awards to 21 troopers for their gallantry and meritorious services.

The Home Minister added that CRPF was not only organising civic action programmes, but also taking active part in Swachhata Abhiyan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan and encouraging digital transactions.

Earlier he inspected the CRPF Contigents and took the salute.


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