Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Nationalism is a construct and not a God-given thing: Sathe

Story: The | Goan | 14th February 2018, 02:23 Hrs

IDEAS 2018



* DD Kosambi Festival of Ideas 2018 saw fewer persons in attendance than earlier years
* Only around 25-30% of the main hall was occupied during the inaugural function
* School students formed large chunk of those in attendance at the inaugural
* If not for the students, the attendance at Kala Academy would have been even thinner
“Gone are the days people used to talk about Sant Tukaram and Kabir. Today, people talk about Baba Ram Rahim”

PANAJI: Why do common people think of nationalism as a natural human condition? This was at the heart of a talk delivered by noted novelist and playwright, Makarand Sathe, at the ongoing DD Kosambi Festival of Ideas 2018 at Kala Academy in Panaji.
Sathe said, “Modernity has brought in extreme individualism alongwith absolute freedom for people. In the modern world, institutions like family and marriage are breaking apart. The only thing for a common man to feel connected to is nationalism.”
He elaborated on the theme by saying that how people who are born within a distance of a few inches hate each other just because they belong to two different countries. Sathe said, “You may be born few inches away on a certain piece of land from another person. One side is India and another is Pakistan. And, we start hating each other like it is a God-given thing.”
Sathe emphasised that there is nothing natural about nationalism, as it is a construct. He lamented that Indian culture has become really escapist in nature.
He said, “Ours has become an escapist culture. We think of culture as an entertainment while culture is really crucial as it tells us what is good and what is bad.”
In his talk, Sathe stressed upon the fact that capitalism reduces everything to a commodity including even culture and religion.
He said, “Gone are the days people used to talk about Sant Tukaram and Kabir. Today, people talk about Baba Ram Rahim.”
Sathe highlighted that one of the problems with increasing globalisation is that individuals are more and more fragmented.
He explained, “We all have multiple identities. Someone may be living in London, may be playing a saxophone and he/she have many identities. However, it is not new. Earlier also people used to have multiple identities. The difference was earlier there was one framework to judge those identities. Today, our different identities are validated by different frameworks, which make us feel fragmented.”
This is particularly relevant in the case of people who migrate from one place to another, as they have several identities, which are valid in different contexts. However, it makes them feel fragmented.