Nationalism has problematic relationship with the truth: Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Mehta was delivering the B G Verghese Memorial Lecture 2015

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:March 2, 2017 3:30 am
pratap bhanu mehta, nationalism, neha dixit, neha dixit journalist, centre for policy research, pb mehta column, pb mehta indian express Mehta hands over the award to Neha Dixit Wednesday. Prem Nath Pandey

“Nationalism has always had a problematic relationship with truth,” said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President of Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi and contributing editor at The Indian Express Wednesday. Mehta was delivering the B G Verghese Memorial Lecture 2015 — named after veteran journalist B G Verghese — on the subject, ‘Truth and Politics in Our Times’. He also presented the Media Foundation’s Chameli Devi Jain Award 2016-2017, for an outstanding woman journalist. The ceremony was held at the India International Centre in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Reflecting on the current political climate in India and abroad, Mehta said, “There are three operations that nationalism does to us: abstraction, alienation and amplification. You become one thing rather than another, your multitudeness has to be congealed in a name, India, etc; alienation: you have to be swallowed up in a collectivity, where your individuality becomes secondary; and amplification, which is that by congealing with others in this united will you somehow experience a different kind of thrill, power etc.”

Mehta concluded with a quote by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami: “Nationalism is like cheap alcohol, it gets you drunk after a few shots and makes you hysterical, it makes you speak loudly, but after your drunken rampage you are left with an awful hangover. I think we are, unfortunately, living in the politics of that hangover.” The lecture was followed by a panel discussion with Yogendra Yadav, national president, Swaraj Abhiyan; and Ashok Malik, columnist and distinguished fellow, Observer Research Foundation.

Neha Dixit, an independent journalist based in the Capital, received the coveted prize, instituted in the honour of freedom fighter Chameli Devi Jain, and first awarded in the year 1982.

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  1. A
    Mar 3, 2017 at 5:06 am
    Ever herd of--Maharana Pratap, Sivaji Maharaj, Chatrasaal,Rani Laxmibai,Guru Gobind singh to name a few?
  2. A
    Mar 2, 2017 at 8:28 am
    so you are saying -nationalism is bad?.Do you realize that if it was not for nationalist warriors of India --you will still be living in slavery of invader Muslim or best -christian.Look what happened to Egypt,Iraq.Iran etc etc.We do not need arm chair thinker and liberal preaching us.We too can read, write and understand. So stop the bs and earn your living honestly like a common Indian.
  3. G
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:49 am
    Who accoding to you are the Nationalist warriors who saved India from slavery under the Muslims?lt;br/gt;Obviously according to you hiji and Nehru were not Nationalists even though they led the Freedom struggle along with other leaders of the day, But Savarkar and Golwalkar were even though they peferred to remain on the right side of the;br/gt;That is the problem of Nationalism because it has different interpretations or rather misinterpretations. For you Nationalism is all about territory but not the people living in it. You consider our Consuion as trivial only to be used when it suits you. For others like Gurmehar Nationalism is allegiance to the Consitution and upholding it even by sacrificing one's life. The Defence forces are officially bound to Gurmehar's version, so is the President and even the;br/gt;It is not without reason that Samuel Johnson's following quote is often used- "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."
  4. T
    Mar 2, 2017 at 4:31 am
    I feel the "drunken rampage" continues with no signs of a "hangover" !
  5. T
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:06 am
    To have love and admiration for ones country is not a bad thing. But this love cannot be above human values. If nationalism means beating up people, restricting peoples freedom, discriminating between people, then such nationalism is bad.
  6. S
    Mar 2, 2017 at 11:29 am
    India has sacrificed a lot in terms of human capital, mental and physical tortures , humiliations , second cl citizens treatments , destruction of its temples , destruction of its cultural and knowledge centers of the majority community during the past 800 years of foreign rules. Mr. Mehta and some of these intellectuals can sit in an AC room and debate endlessly " what is nationalism?" for days, months and years ; but the truth is that this country's hard earned freedom and self rule can be preserved by the spirit of nationalism only , and what is understoodof nationalism by the common man in the street.
  7. R
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:01 am
    Something wrong with this Mehta guy.
  8. S
    Mar 2, 2017 at 10:40 am
    Mr. Mehta is right in saying that nationalism the muludes get congealed into a name that is India. It is precisely this phenomenon that hi used and India went on to win independence. So when Mehta criticises nationalism, does he also criticise our freedom struggle? LOLlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Unfortunate how the liberal intellectuals are trying every dirty propaa trick to win. Let it be a fair debate. Hear what others have to say. Be open to contrarian views. Unfortunately, more often than not, the intellectuals resort to rhetorical trickery to silence others. On every TV debate, I see the leftists as a rule trying to out-shout others. Name calling come naturally to them. And the media shamelessly help them in this game of biases. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;But in this entire turmoil, i get the feeling that we are moving towards a change. The game has been started by the elite intellectuals who believe it to be their right to dictate to the common mes, but it will be the common mes who will deliver the check mate.
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