Emerging New Nationalism


There is emergence of a new kind of Nationalism. This current of nationalism is different from the nationalism preached by traditional nationalist and also different from Nationalism of our freedom fighters.

Like the nationalism of early 20th century was result of liberal education & it was headed by middle class of time, the 21st century nationalism is the product of introduction of liberalization in country after 1990s. This new generation of opinion shapers are advocates of enterprise led development. They are involved in contributing to nation in different way from grassroots level to national politics. They believe in active participation in different sphere of life to give the shape to future they want.

I will present some of the characteristics of this new creed of nationalism by highlight the contrast with older creed of people of 20th century who shaped the much of public discourse, by their dominant position in politics, administration, media and intellectual sphere since independence. This binary comparison may not be perfect way to describe the new creed but one of simpler way to highlight the main characteristics.

Composition: In terms of composition, this group is much diverse, heterogeneous and representative of broader population rather than homogeneous western educated elites who occupied public space after the Independence. The newer creed is mixed cohort mainly coming from modest background without much privileges.

In contrast to Ox-bridge (Oxford Cambridge) Educated elites of previous century, who played a disproportionate (for worse) role in shaping public discourse, the newer generation is educated in India. Most of them has utilize the facilities of best public education institution like IIT, IIMs, AIIMS etc but they have gained access to it through their sheer hard work and not due to patronage & privilege of their parents. But the new creed is not just restricted to people educated from this elite institution but includes people from diverse walks of life.  This is in sharp contrast to ‘old boys clubs’ who have studies at same school, college and gone to same parties mainly due to their privileges.

There is also a contrast between Personalities of two creeds. The newer lot are enterprising, industrious, hardworking, and sincere in intentions besides being technology savvy and connected to grassroots.  The advocated of new nationalism are more result oriented, output oriented.

Medium of Connect: One of main way by which a minority comes to occupy disproportionate share of public discourse is through networking and team work among them. This largely amplifies the influence & impact than sum of influences of individual members. While ‘Old Boys Club’ used the meeting in Gymkhana or cocktail parties in exclusive club or meeting of Alumni Association of Doon School as avenues to network and collaborates with each other, the new creed meets in online space, Public Park, clubs, coffee shop or at NGO site to volunteer for some social cause.  They are well-connected with each other cutting across the geographies in online as well as offline space. They work at active coalition to share their experience and help each other in personal and professional life while also contributing to national development in myriad ways.

Attitude to Life: There is distinct difference between attitudes to life in two groups. The newer lot are lot more optimistic and they are playing an active role in changing the reality to make it better for all Indians to live with dignity. They are contributing in their own way than just complaining.  They don’t just believe in preaching but discussing the ideas and implementing the same. The older creed is more interested in show off & pretending that they are doing a social service by partying in five start hotels & discussing how to erase the poverty & filth from society. While it is no denying from fact that old creed is still playing a very dominant role in shaping the public discourse and public policy but new cohort is very much interest(and actually asserting their right)  in setting the public discourse & public policy.

Cultural Attitude : While old creed have reverence for everything western & worship it to extent so as even to denigrate our culture, in contrast new creed have proud in their own culture. They don’t feel let down when anyone talk about culture or society of India. They take pride in their culture, heritage and traditions. While they don’t defend everything that is old but still believe in essence while having a progressive outlook on various issues. They are proud of their basic or core values while acting as advocate of reform within their own society for outdated practices and custom.

Methods of engagement: They use varied method to engage among themselves as well to engage with older creed & wider public. They don’t believe in coercion, threat, intimation but use discussion, dialogues and persuasion. Also they emphasize engagement rather than just ignorance or arrogance. They work at grass-root but they also work with new generation politicians to provide effective administration. They are in various sphere of life, coming from diverse parts of country. They contribute in their own way.

USP: Beside above difference what differentiate the new creed from older is they have access to information. This is main reason for their new-found confidence. They are working in today’s cutting edge sectors like S&T, IT, R&D, Engineering and other modern sector of global economy. They are proud of what India has achieved in these sectors due to hard work & genius. They are assertive and vocal about causes they believe in. They have different ideas of development which doesn’t match with socialist ideas put forward by 20th century leaders. They are not subservient to any fixed ideology in that sense. They are pragmatic in their approach.

Way forward: The need of hour is to engage with this section of society to create a resurgent strong India.  Anyone who is capable to engage with this section and tap their energy in positive direction would be doing a huge favor to India. It’s not that they are leaderless but they do support the people coming from humble background and those who have the open mind to embrace the new thinking.

This is also kind of re-arrangement of power and authority especially in setting the public agenda or discourse. This would naturally create resentment among the previous monopolist old boys club. The transition period is going to rough, turbulent and unpredictable.

It’s easy to generalize everything but difficult to give accurate description of any phenomenon. This is what I have done in case of describing the new wave of nationalism. Yes, generalization does make things easier to understand but this doesn’t mean they are reflection of exact situation or phenomenon. Similar, in this case the newer creed is not homogeneous & uniform who share all characteristics. They don’t agree on everything, but have some sort of shared agreement to ‘ agree to disagree’.

Rejuvenation of India is possible with this Resurgent Nationalism. What is required is effective leadership to give the direction which may emerge from this new creed or can also come from outside.

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