Apoorvanand, a professor of the Hindi department of Delhi University (DU) is supposed to be a figure whom students look up to. He is a person who is supposed to shape young minds. But, his article in The Wire reveals some disturbingly twisted opinions about nationalism and national flag. The professor’s article reveals that he places minoritarianism above national unity and respect for the tricolour.
Does the tricolour deserve differential treatment if held by Hindutva bikers
The DU professor is not hesitant to go to any extent in order to prove his hatred for Hindutva bikers who took pride in carrying the national flag. He writes :
The tiranga is only superficially our national flag when used to embarrass, frighten or subdue an individual or community. When used in this way, it loses its essence (byline).
Their tiranga is not mine. The tiranga that the bikers in Kasganj carried in order to thrust it in the faces of the Muslims who had assembled at Shaheed Abdul Hamid Chowk to unfurl the national flag on Republic Day is alien to me. This is not the flag I have grown up with. I do not know it and it does not look friendly to me. It is being wielded as a threat, a weapon of goons, the flag of a gang out to annex my very being. India belongs to its people. It does not annex them and I refuse to be annexed by any party or ideology.
Does this person know that the national flag has been the same ever since India became independent? And what kind of a hateful person fails to recognise the flag if a person of a different ideology holds it? How can it be wielded as a threat? Every Indian has a right to hold the national flag, and on every occasion it has to be respected by every Indian. The writer falls to a lower level in his next paragraph.
The tricolour is now being used to mark territory and annex people who are already a part of the country. Just see the faces of those who wield this flag. They look like marauders. Assault units out to capture new territories and vanquish people. To make them submit to the diktat of those who claim that this flag belongs naturally and only to them and that others will be made to bow before it.
The professor should understand that the entire territory of this country is marked as India. And the national flag can be hoisted/carried/displayed in every part of this country. Those holding a national flag are not marauders. They are nationalists. The writer plunges in the eyes of the reader with every line he writes. He goes on to say :
They think that once they hold this flag, they have a right to passage: they can ask you to make way for their gang, ask you to vacate your shared spaces by planting the flag over it. You are not allowed to question their right, their move.
Even if a person doesn’t hold a flag, he/she has the right to walk freely in all public roads of the country. It is a fundamental right. Unless and until someone is entering a protected forest, area cordoned of for security reasons or private property, no one can question the right to move around freely in the country. The professor seems to be endorsing no-go areas in the name of minority appeasement.
RSS usurping the national flag?
The most outrageous part of this article is where the writer says that the RSS should not usurp the Tiranga. What does that mean? Political opponents can claim that ‘RSS is propagating Hindutva’ with a saffron flag. But one wonders what might the problem with the national flag?
Many of us feel that we also need to take the national flag in our hands, to not let the RSS usurp it. But we don’t need to do this. We don’t need to legitimise all our acts by giving them a nationalist colour. When students protest for their rights or farmers fight for their claims, they need not do it in the shadow of the tiranga.
He criticises Tiranga yatras proposed by the prime minister as well in his article and also has a problem with RSS chief hoisting the national flag in Kerala. Clearly, his hatred has clouded his judgement and common sense (if at all has any of it). The professor’s allegiance or love for the flag depends on the people who carry/ hoist/ display it.
We are not sure as to what exactly happened in Kasganj. Only investigations can reveal the details. But this opposition to ‘Hindutva bikers’ carrying the national flag is the lowest point of the discourse in politics. It is shameful that a person in academia has propounded such a logic. If at all there is any threat for the idea of India or nationalism it comes from figures like Apoorvanand. And it seems like portals like The Wire will always be there to support such figures.