What is your vision of ‘Bharat Mata’?
My vision is of a tender and benign symbol of our nation inspiring a spirit of service and creativity among our people.
You write: The age of monarchy has passed, in this era of democracy the central government must learn to behave like a government at the centre of a circle of state governments. Has the NDA been able to do that?
The NDA pays lip service to the principle of cooperative federalism, but is unitary in instinct. There is a tendency by the ruling configuration today to establish the untrammeled dominance of one religion and one language. The idea of the federal unity of India that respectfully accommodated the myriad internal differences of language, region and religion has acquired renewed urgency in 2017 as an alternative to religious majoritarianism.
Have the lines blurred between dying for the motherland and killing for religion?
There is a danger of that happening in today’s India. That is why the younger generation needs to be taught about the history of service, suffering and sacrifice for the motherland.
While launching your book, former President Pranab Mukherjee said the concept of “Mother India” is an
“emotional construct” and must not be accorded a “religious identity”. Your comments.
He is right. The imagination of our nation as mother is indeed an emotional construct.
Vigilantism is growing. From hunting ‘anti-nationals’ to lynch mobs in the garb of ‘gau raksha’, where does India stand today?
A wave of unreason, inhumanity and injustice is sweeping across India today. Lynching human beings in the garb of cow protection is simply its most vicious form. We must restore and abide by “Akhlaq”, which means the ethics of good governance.
Rajasthan and Maharashtra have modified their textbooks. The Mughal era has almost been wiped out. Are we losing our rich history?
“Post-truth” is not only taking over our political discourse, but also textbooks. We must not deprive our younger generation the opportunity to learn about the grandeur of our rich and diverse history.
Do youth today have the freedom to think?
Today’s youth must be encouraged to question orthodoxies and to think critically. They should be allowed the freedom to think and the freedom to speak and even the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
Do you think the declassified Netaji files will bring a closure some day?
We must focus on Netaji’s glorious life and his grand vision of Indian unity, which is more relevant than ever before. The younger generation must learn from his book of life and follow his ideals. We cannot allow a handful of cranks and opportunists belonging to fringe groups to deny our leader the honor of a martyr’s death.
Recently former Vice-President Hamid Ansari was trolled for stating some bitter facts. Your take.
Hamid Ansari Saheb spoke some home truths. Let us not forget that Mahatma Gandhi had said in 1947: “No Muslim must feel his life unsafe in the Indian Union.”