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India’s new nationalism wants to promote disquiet — full text of Hamid Ansari’s speech at US event

Speaking at a virtual US Congressional briefing on Republic Day, Ansari said this form of nationalism presents an 'electoral majority in the guise of a religious majority'.

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New Delhi: In a sharp remark against growing trends and practices of nationalism in India, former vice-president Hamid Ansari said the ‘well-established principle of civic nationalism’ is being interposed with a ‘new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism’, terming these manifestations ‘chilling’.

Ansari made the comments virtually Wednesday during a special US Congressional briefing on ‘Protecting India’s pluralist Constitution’, organised by a coalition of 17 US-based rights organisations.

During his address on Republic Day, Ansari said this form of nationalism presents an ‘electoral majority in the guise of a religious majority and monopolise political power’. “It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate Otherness and promote disquiet and insecurity,” he said.

Ansari also underlined the need to find answers to these manifestations and called for the need to contest it legally and politically.

Read the full speech here: 

Today is Republic Day.

Now as everyone knows, India gained its freedom from British rule on the 15th of August 1947. And then the people of India gave themselves a Constitution on the 26th of January.

So the significance of the day, Republic Day, is the day when the Constitution was formally inaugurated. The Convocation prescribes Universal Adult Franchise, and includes a comprehensive Charter of Rights and Duties, including the duty to protect the heritage of our composite culture and to promote the spirit of fraternity.

This has nurtured and sustained the Indian democracy for seven decades and through 17 general elections. We have today, we are reckoned to be the largest democracy in the world. And we are proud to be so. This is a vast land and diverse land, peopled by citizens of different backgrounds speaking different languages and professing different beliefs.

Almost 20 per cent of our people belong to religious minorities. In recent years, we have experienced the emergence of trends and practices that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism and interposes a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism.

It seeks to present an electoral majority in the guise of a religious majority and monopolise political power. It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate Otherness and promote disquiet and insecurity.

Some of its recent manifestations are chilling, and reflect poorly on our claim to be governed by rule of law. Why have segments of opinion in a plural society, with a long tradition of accommodation of diversity, decided to question it in favour of a unilateral and distorted reading of its past? It’s a question that has to be answered. These trends need to be contested and contested legally and contested politically.

Thank you. Jai Hind.


Also read: Electoral majority in guise of religious majority: Hamid Ansari on India’s new nationalism


 

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