Whether India is to be yours or mine, whether it is to belong more to the Hindu, or the Moslem, or whether some other race is to assert a greater supremacy than either — that is not the problem with which Providence is exercised. It is not as if, at the bar of the judgement seat of the Almighty, different advocates are engaged in pleading the rival causes of Hindu, Moslem or Westerner, and that the party that wins the decree shall finally plant the standard of permanent possession. It is our vanity which makes us think that it is a battle between contending rights — the only battle is the eternal one between Truth and untruth.
— Rabindranath Tagore (from this piece of Ramachandra Guha in the Hindu).
Posts Tagged ‘Nationalism’
Eighty years on, the Tagore-Gandhi debate still makes for compelling reading. The Mahatma insisted that a colonised nation had first to discover itself before discovering the world. The poet answered that there was a thin line between nationalism and xenophobia —besides, hatred of the foreigner could later turn into a hatred of Indians different from oneself (he was particularly sceptical of the claim that non-co-operation had or would dissolve Hindu-Muslim differences). Both men come out well; Tagore slightly better perhaps. He stood his ground, whereas Gandhi shifted his, somewhat. Pressed and challenged by Tagore, he broadened his nationalism to allow in winds from all parts of the world.
This, perhaps is not new to those who have heard Ram Guha on Tagore and Gandhi, or the readers of Ashish Nandy’s extraordinary book, The illegitimacy of nationalism. But, it still is a nice, short summary!
From Ram Guha’s India after Gandhi:
While film directors and actors were influenced by the nationalist movement, that movement was supremely indifferent to them. The producer of Achhut Kanya was unable to get the lifelong crusader against untouchability, Mahatma Gandhi, to watch this film. (Apparently, the only film Gandhi saw–and that not till its end–was a mythological work, Ram Rajya.) Nor is there any record of other leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabbhai Patel visiting movie theatres.
I can understand Gandhi, and at some level Patel too; but Nehru? I expected him to be an ardent movie fan (and, needless to say, I am disappointed).
PS: Some internal contradictions in Guha’s writing: there is at least one recorded instance of Nehru visiting a theatre of watch a movie:
… Jawaharlal Nehru, who attended the premiere of Meera at Plaza Cinema in New Delhi …