By Jug Suraiya
February 28, 2020
Einstein called nationalism the ‘measles’ of humankind. By that definition, India is currently experiencing an epidemic of not just ‘measles’ but ‘hyper-measles’, not just nationalism, but hyper-nationalism.
But are those who espouse such hyper-nationalism being anti-national without realising it?
A case in point is that of Bengaluru’s Hubbali Bar Association (HBA) which had earlier passed a resolution prohibiting its members from appearing as counsel of defense for three college students who have been accused of raising pro-Pakistan slogans while staging an anti-CAA protest in their hostel.
At the intervention of the High Court, the HBA withdrew the resolution, but some of its members heckled the lawyers who had come forward to defend the students, which once again caused the court to issue a rebuke and rule that proper legal representation be provided to the accused, as prescribed by the law of the land.
The hyper-nationalism displayed by the lawyer’s association not only goes against the code of ethics which enjoins those in the profession to act on behalf of those charged with any criminal activity, on the fundamental premise of the presumption of innocence till otherwise proven, but also violates the constitutional right to freedom of speech.
Even those charged, and convicted, of the horrifying rape and murder in the so-called Nirbhaya case which shocked the world were given legal representation, and continue to receive it even as they await execution on death row.
Is the charge, yet to be proven, of raising pro-Pakistan slogan a crime more heinous and less defensible than rape, torture, and murder?
By undermining their own code of conduct as well as the right both of presumed innocence and of freedom of speech, the Bengaluru lawyers are not championing the cause of their country but betraying the legal and constitutional foundations to which the nation owes it legitimacy.
A true nationalist is not one who says ‘My country, right or wrong’, but one who says ‘My country, for which I must do that which is the right thing to do, for if I do wrong I wrong my country.’
Hyper-nationalists wear their nationalism on their sleeves. They’d do much better, for the country they claim to love, to instead locate their patriotism where it should belong, in their hearts and minds.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.
Original Headline: When hyper-nationalism can become its opposite and turn into antinationalism
Source: The Times of India