“India makes a power point”, announced a front-page Times of India headline with triumphant finality when Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella was named the CEO of the global software giant Microsoft, referring to the company’s well-known “Power Point” programme. “India on the move!” and “India raises its toast”, exulted other major papers. What this crass self-congratulation and nationalist hype exposes is the middle-class Indian’s willingness to suspend critical judgment and read the success of a handful of individual non-resident Indians (NRIs) as a tribute to the Indian nation’s collective virtue, merit and accomplishment as a “talent machine”.
Tag - Nationalism
It speaks poorly of India’s public discourse that the slightest perception or allegation of “hurt” to “national prestige” instantly produces a disproportionate, indeed hysterical, reaction.
Glowing tributes have been lavished on Brajesh Mishra, the former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and National Security Adviser (NSA) who died last week, mourning him as a visionary and statesman. Any death is a human tragedy to be mourned. But amidst the deluge of eulogies about Mishra’s “steely determination”, conceptual clarity, and his “guile” coupled with “generosity”, it must not be forgotten that he was pivotal to bringing about far-reaching but questionable shifts in India’s security and foreign policy stances and forging a hard-line national security apparatus.
The attack by Bharatiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha activists on the residence of writer Arundhati Roy in Delhi, accompanied by abusive slogans and breaking of flower-pots, marks a new low in the destructive activities of the forces of bigotry and intolerance in India. It is a hair-raising reminder of the great distance this society has travelled from the concept of a liberal democracy which genuinely respects the freedom of expression and the right to dissent—a concept that’s at the heart of the Constitution.
What is common between Paris, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kashmir, Dilli (East Timor) and New Delhi? Each of them signifies an embarrassment or crisis for India’s foreign policy establishment.