To me anti-national is a sentiment, not a person and it should apply to any nation and not only India. Nationalistic sentiment can be comprehended only through the lens of anti-national sentiment. Any attempt at definition will result in articulation of one more dogma.
If I cast my mind to the last sixty-eight years of our nationhood and glean when we as a country have been anti national, it has been every time we have made our citizens experience one of the following twelve sentiments. There may be more but I have chosen to limit it to what to me are twelve most pre-eminent ones. Triggering or exhibiting anti-national sentiment has not been the exclusive preserve of any one government, political party, politician, institution or citizen. Shamefully at various times, one or the other constituent of our nation has acted in a manner, which has given rise to one or other of the following anti-national sentiments.
- Not only when someone shouts slogans asking for the dismemberment of my beloved country, but also when someone dismembers it on the odious plank of caste, religion, ethnicity, culture, class, sharing of river waters and crime.
- Not only when someone dis-respects the triranga, but when someone shows greater allegiance to flags which have Red, Green, Saffron, Blue, Black, Yellow or a combination of colours, over the tricolour with the Ashoka (Dharma) chakra in the middle.
- Whenever we seek homogeneity over plurality and impose majoritarian will or appease minority, as opposed to discharging our constitutional duty.
- Not only when someone burns my constitution, but when someone shows greater reverence to religious, ideological and cultural dogmas over our constitution.
- When someone dodges taxes using clever interpretation of the law, because he denies the nation the money that will build it.
- When someone buys patronage and privileges which is not due to him, by dubious means, because it sows the seeds of retributory anger, in otherwise peaceful people, who value nationalism, because it guarantees equity, fairness and justice for all.
- When rule of law is the casualty and when the temples of justice respond to the rich and mighty only, leaving the innocent common man as the under trial for decades.
- When the police become the private militia of the politicians, while they show apathy to the security and rights of an ordinary citizen; in fact, regularly aggress and extort them.
- When the bureaucrat and senior government official sells his soul for few pieces of silver and the protection and patronage of the political class.
- When our schools reserve the poorest quality of education to the poorest children of this country; why even discard them as child labour.
- When we condone popular violence, which exploits the right to assemble and protest, to threaten and intimidate the State and private institutions and terrorises ordinary citizens, to submit to blackmail and extortion.
- When we let even one person with criminal charge (taint), to make laws and govern us, till proven innocent; for Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.
To me every inhumane act directed at a fellow citizen breeds anti-national sentiment, for a nation is only an aggregation of its citizens and not just inanimate territorial ownership or jingoistic chest thumping.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
– Rabindranath Tagore