Wednesday, March 9, 2016

AM I A NATIONALIST?







Pic.: Anand Seedhar

I have been restraining myself from commenting on the JNU issue… I have watched many of those videos, heard many of those speeches… listened to prime-time debates, read the newspaper reports… and, yet, I have kept my opinion to myself.

In life, we listen to only what we want to listen… watch only what we want to watch… We very, very rarely listen to what we do not want to, and watch we do not want to… Leave alone learn from what we do not like!

So, I have stayed away from such Nationalism Vs Anti-nationalism debates… Let those who like to debate it, do it… I do not like it… Hence, I am happy this way.

Am I a Nationalist?

“Do you love me?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Prove me, then.”

Yes, it is just as silly as that… as dumb!

I have to prove my Nationalism?

To whom, before whom?

Such is the sorry state of affairs, today… Everyone around me – including little boys and girls – are busy debating on this weird subject called Nationalism Vs Anti-nationalism!

Because I know, that I can never ‘win’ such a debate, I have stayed away from it.

But, today, I had accompanied a friend of mine to the Bombay High Court. The young advocate of my friend showed us many things in the iconic building… He showed us the famous court room where Bal Gangadhar Tilak was tried for sedition charges over a century ago… I was told, that the fire-brand freedom fighter had written a series of articles in his newspaper, ‘Kesari’… including the article titled: ‘Vinash Kale Vipareeta Buddhi’. The advocate narrated to us as to how Barrister Muhammad Ali Jinnah had fought for Tilak’s bail and how, eventually, the Jury had held Tilak guilty on sedition charges and sent him to a jail in Burma for six years.

But, what inspired me the most was what Tilak had said, when asked by the Jury if he had anything say after being sentenced. Tilak’s respose has been fittingly inscribed on a marble plaque, which, I was told, generations of legal practitioners have been drawing their strength from. Here are those rock-solid words:

“In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent.
There are higher powers that rule the destinies of men and nations;
and I think, it may be the will of Providence
that the cause I represent may be benefited more
by my suffering than by my pen and tongue”.

I remained silent for a while after going through Tilak’s words…

It is ironical, that the same trial room, where Tilak was found guilty once, has turned, today, a place of pilgrimage and a colossal source of inspiration!

Am I a Nationalist?

“Yes sir.”

“Can you prove that?”

I am happy, that I broke my silence, today!


GERALD D’CUNHA

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