Monday, February 18, 2008

My State, My People

We all have a strange way of asserting our identities. Living within a heterogeneous group of communities, we will see ourselves as belonging to a particular caste or religion; within our country residing outside State, we will feel our State identity emerging to the fore; when we travel in a foreign country, we will constantly realize how different we are as Indians in so many ways; and don’t you remember what Sunita Williams said about how she felt seeing our globe from the Space, - one single world without boundaries?! Only by transcending to a higher plane of living at every turn literally, can you forget your narrow identity and see yourself as a part of larger milieu.

The chauvinistic and inflammatory rant of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief, Raj Thackeray, against North Indians living in Mumbai, targeting in particular the Bollywood icon, Amitabh Bachchan, for establishing a college in a village in U.P. and making a wayside diatribe against Lallu Prasad alleging that Biharis were being favoured in employment in the railways have cast a spell of violence in Mumbai. In Mumbai, they not only stop a railway recruitment exam, they even vandalise a railway office. In Assam , they prevent Biharis from taking a railway recruitment exam. In Bihar , they retaliate by beating up Assamese students in trains. Back in Assam again, they retaliate for this retaliation by killing Biharis. Bal Thackeray went to Goa and urged audiences to keep non-Goans out of Goa by implementing a permit system. If the Cauvery Tribunal passes an award about the sharing of waters between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the farmers of Karnataka go on a rampage burning buses from Tamil Nadu. It is a recurrent theme. Here again, lift yourself to a higher plane and see what is happening around the world. We are not alone in our parochial ways.

The politics of the smallest state in the Australian Federation, Tasmania, provides a clear example of parochialism, both at the state level, with the north/south divide while also strongly influencing the interaction of Tasmanian leaders with their mainland counterparts. Canadian foreign policy is said to be constrained by the parochial economic and material interests of the provincial governments. The emergence of regionally based political parties at the federal level, such as the Bloc Québécois and the former Reform Party, has also helped promote parochial regional interests within Parliament. The nature of the electoral system in Ireland and the weak powers of Local government reinforce parochial voting patterns and politics. The US Supreme Court has dealt with issues ranging from justification of applicability of a particular State law to transactions covering inter state commerce (Phillips Petroleum co v Shutts et al (472 U.S. 797; 105 S. Ct. 2965)) to favouring domicile in a particular region for employments within a particular State ( United Building & Construction Trades Council of Amden Country and Vicinity v Mayor and Council of the City of Camden (465 U.S. 208; 104 S. Ct. 1020)) to further issues of differential State taxes for entities established outside State (Metropolitan Life Insurance Co et al v Ward et al; Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. National Gay Task Force; Fugate v New Mexico (470 U.S. 869; 105 S. Ct. 1676)) to still further issues of complaints of conspiracy of not allowing a legal practitioner of one State to pass the bar examination in another State (Hoover et al v Ronwin et al (466 U.S. 558; 104 S. Ct. 1989)). In everyone of the cases, the US Supreme Court has stood over parochial tendencies and reiterated a pan-US identity.

Among nationalist ideologies fascist ideologues taught that national identity was the foundation of individual identity and should not be corrupted by foreign influences, especially if they were left-wing. Nazism condemned Marxist and liberal internationalisms as threats to German national unity. Fascists in general wanted to replace internationalist class solidarity with nationalist class collaboration. The Italian, French, and Spanish notion of integral nationalism was hostile to individualism and political pluralism. Unlike democratic conservatives, fascists accused their political opponents of being less patriotic than they, sometimes even labeling them traitors. Portuguese fascists spoke of ‘internal foreigners’ who were ‘anti-nation’. The point is, if you look for differences, they exist everywhere. In the way we talk; in the way we dress; in the languages that we speak; in the temperaments that we have; in the colour of the skin that we are born with; in the intellectual capabilities that we are endowed with; in the financial resources that we possess and what have you. Uniform laws cannot bring uniformity here. At every stage, we shall pull ourselves above the narrow ring that we are drawing around us. It could come through spiritual practice; it could come through constant training of the mind seeing these differences as going to make such a lovely mosaic of infinite variety, the same way as variegated flowers of different hues and fragrances making the garden a true delight to behold. Beyond Article 14 is what your attitude is!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this nice article, it's very acclaimed blogs