Thursday, December 29, 2005

Linguistic Nationalism, Religious Nationalism, Nationalistic Nationalism

Today, I got delayed for my lunch. The reason: two chaps were heatedly arguing on something in S-block. I kept ignoring them for a long time to finish my chores. Their discussion never seemed to end. Finally, I couldn't resist getting involved myself. Though, I managed to extricate myself after around twenty minutes of involvement, by the time I reached mess, it was 1.55 pm. Poori was over! :(

The discussion was hovering over a comparison between LTTEs and Kashmiri militants -- a very catchy topic in the shadows of yesterday's terrorist attack on IISc. One of them was of the view (according to me) that Indian Tamils should refrain from providing any kind of support to the LTTEs. The basis was that LTTEs are militant group and the Srilankan unrest is essentially an internal matter for Sri Lanka. The other guy, a tamilian, was vehemently opposing the statement which was drawing equivalence between jihadis and LTTEs. His arguments: LTTEs don't target innocent people; jihadis do. Hence, it would be wrong to call them a terrorist organisation.

The point of the discussion was indeed blurry. I got a feeling that both weren't really talking the same thing. The first chap was basically talking about the monetary and financial aids that LTTE gets from Indian tamils. The other chap was justifying, in an askance manner, the ways of LTTEs.

I made the following brief (compared to the long discourses that the two main parties of the discussion were issueing) point and excused myself: The stories we hear about such events, be those of the Kashmiri jihadis, or of the LTTEs, are all coming to us through media, politicians and people who have been personally afflicted. All of them have their vested interests while propagating the news, and hence, can't be completely believed. Under these circumstances, how good is it to make strong opinions about anything of this nature, and then act upon them? I feel we should talk about it, think about it, but should refrain from doing anything drastic about it, especially if it supports violence in any form. People in Pakistan raise funds in support of the jihadis. I am sure they do it with a vehement sense of pride and justice. The stories of violence we receive are through the army and politicians. The story they hear are told by Pak government, the militant groups and their politicians. We all are biased. We hear stories told in a way to instigate a particular type of interpretation; and then we interpret them as per our wish. We shouldn't make haste in developing very strong opinions on such matters. On the other hand, we should consider honestly if we do honour national boundaries. If we do, we should respect them practically.

After my leaving the spot, I could see that the temperature subsequently rose considerably. I heard the tamil chap accusing the other one that there wasn't much point in the whole discussion as the other guy hated [sic] the tamilians or something like that. The first chap was denying the charge; but the tamil chap seemed to know what the other guy had in his mind.

I feel, if the tamil chap was discussing with this thing in his mind from the beginning, the whole discussion was a complete waste. I also heard him saying that he considers himself a tamilian first and then an Indian, and it's perfectly valid for him.

Nevertheless, whenever such a discussion happens in close proximity, or events like yesterday's happen, some old latent question raise their heads again. Why do people finally take to violence? When is it right to resort to violence? Are all forms of violence wrong? How does one define violence in self-defence? Is there any such thing like absolute truth? If not, how long will this argument be used as an excuse by man to let out his violent instincts, his lack of courage to act according to reason? Are the people who believe that there can't be a common consensus noble people? Are those who try to enforce one form of common consensus tyrrants?

These are endless questions for me (and I am sure for many). And I am nowhere close to any light on these matters! :(

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