Emotive people, I despise thy kingdom!

It is natural to get emotional. Hormones and a myriad of chemicals exist for a purpose. They help us blur the lines of banal objectivity. I wish for clinical precision while conducting nuclear fission. But while kissing my beloved, I prefer a lull of subjective uncertainty around it. It is the uncertainty that lends credence to human bonds. Enter tangibility, it isn’t exciting anymore.

There are two kinds of people in politics - the panderers - the uncrowned kings and queens of drama! The second kind - the nuanced - almost always pale in comparison when it comes to popularity. This is a tragedy, especially for us those who loathe irrationality. But such is human nature. Whether we like it or not, we got to live with this.

Birth of a nation can come about in umpteen different ways. But death of nation almost always follow a set pattern. First, people lose faith in its institutions. Then, they fall in love with intangible emotions. They look for these emotions everywhere. When they can’t perceive it in real terms, they get disenchanted. Then, its a matter of time before they revolt.

I don’t buy the argument that nuance is not a forte of the hoi polloi. Industrious people built cultures and civilisations. True, they got leaders in the process. But millions of hands had to come together to put the bricks and mortar together. That motivation of the masses arose out of conviction. Emotions can reap short term benefits, but in the long term - tangible results and institutions are a must.

Falling in love with a nation, is not to love the barbed wires that make up its boundaries. It is not to admire the rocket launchers that ‘protect’ imaginary lines on sand. To love a nation is to love its people. If you don’t get this, you belong to nothing.

Emotions are especially dangerous to nations built upon civic citizenship. True, religion and ethnicity can constitute a nation. Travel to the Balkans and you will see it first hand. Every denomination of people has a nation of their own. You are just born in to these nations!

In civic nations like India, it is the civic conduct that makes you a citizen. There is a learning curve, there is a need for picking up certain etiquette that makes you a citizen.

It is a hard process. Obvious shortcut is to consider you a nation because you belong to “X” community. Our founding fathers and mothers rejected it in favour of civic nationalism. They had faith in the idea of India - that our people will live up to these exalted ideals. Ethnic nationalism will invariably lead to the balkanisation of India.

But we are content with tokenism, unfortunately. Building a statue or a temple is enough to prove our allegiance. Appending “Ramji” to B.R Ambedkar’s name is enough to define what he was! Where are the nuance? Where is the exalted virtue of common sense?

First we let emotions into politics. Then we let it proliferate. Then the emotions take over. Once we enter the emotive domain, it is only a matter of time before a panderer takes the centre stage. The panderer pledges allegiance to none - no ideology in particular. She doesn’t take feedback - her only motive is to speak to the crowd.

Institutions erode under the bridge that connects her with ‘her people’. The great intellectual capital built by the nation over decades are laid to waste. Men and women rot in nations universities soaking up in ideas that made mankind. She talks about past glory, as present stinks with stagnation.

To take the nation forward from this point, we need intellectual capital. Not islands of excellence, but a distributed continuum of minimal civic sense. If we can’t somehow bring about this, we are doomed.

I will leave this here with the words of Gramsci:

All men are intellectuals… but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals.

Written on April 19, 2018