Dissent is not anti-national

This Thursday, High Court set aside the disciplinary action taken by JNU against 15 of its students, including ex-JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, in connection with a controversial event on February 9 last year in the varsity.

I can remember how angry I was when I heard that some students of JNU have ‘allegedly’ raised the anti-India slogans in a student rally. But later I got to know that the video which some news channels were showing was a doctored one. Anyway, I don’t want to restrict this post to that particular issue.

There are still many versions of ‘what-happened-in-JNU’ story. But, one thing is clear that after this whole JNU incident, the issue of nationalism and anti-nationalism become a subject of intense debate. In fact, ‘anti-national’ has become a regular word in general discussions and news broadcasts, because every act, statement and viewpoint is now considered to be subjected to similar typecasting (national or anti-national).

In past two-three years, we have heard many stories which were the act of dissent according to some people whereas the same things were the anti-national acts for some other people specifically for the right-wing. Along with JNU controversy, there were several other incidences like HCU’s Rohith Vemula case, Incident outside Ramjas College, Award wapsi over intolerance issue, Murders of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi & Gauri Lankesh

Coming back to the present time, just yesterday, the Bombay High Court said

The “trend of killing all opposition” in India is “dangerous”. This is giving a bad reputation to the country.

while referring to the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. The court also said,

“Will more people be targeted? There is no respect for liberal values and opinions. People are increasingly being targeted for their liberal principles… Not just thinkers, but any person or organization that believes in liberal principles can be targeted. It’s like if there is some opposition to me, I must have that person eliminated.”

I hope bhakts will not dare to say that court is wrong. Because it is a fact that people with left ideologies are being targeted. You think Demonetization was a failure? You think the Indian economy is in dangerous condition? You think Modi has gone back on most of his poll promises? You think Modi is merely a showman? then brace yourself to be named as a libtard/commie/sickular And most importantly, an impenitent anti-national. They will even call you a terrorist sympathizer while threatening you with violence. Irony.


There is also a bunch of hysterical news tv anchors who are famous for certifying citizens as anti-national.

Sometimes you don’t even have to do anything, If you are an Adivasi from central India, A Dalit student, Left intellectual, human rights activist, a certain religious minority, anti-nuclear activist, beef eater, non-haters of Pakistan, inter-religious couple and labor activist, you are already an anti-national for the Saghis & Bhakts.

To be honest, even I was expecting “Achhe Din”. We all did. And that’s why the public voted for BJP because we wanted a change from the past. But now if you raise a question about the government policies, you will be asked about the records of previous governments. It doesn’t occur to them that perhaps you could simply be critical of the government for the right reasons and without any political affiliation. By constantly bringing up the past and giving excuses they are betraying the public’s faith.

Let me clear one thing, I don’t belong to any political party and I don’t have any hatred against BJP. But I think to keep Bhagat Singh’s photo as my phone’s wallpaper and not showing courage to dissent will be hypocritical. SO, here I am. Now that I have taken the name of Shaheed-E-Azam, I would like to share some lines from an article on the website of Zee News.

I am not sure if Singh and his ideas would have found space in present day India. Like the sham trial that pronounced his death sentence then, he would have been trolled to death on social media or arrested or banned or gagged today.

Coming back to the pressing question in the present time:

Who is anti-national?

To answer this, we must be aware of the concept of nationality. Nationality refers to a set of people inspired by the feeling of oneness which is usually due to certain objective characteristics they have in common, such as language, race, religion, territory or history, either singly or in combination which distinguish them from other nations. In ancient time when prosecution due to the opposite or different faith was common, India was the land of harmonious heterogeneous diversity, which accepted inter-religious dissimilarity. And that’s why India does not fits into the typical Eurocentric terminology of the nation, state or nation-state. Rather it creates an entirely new and distinguished category, the “civilisational-state”. Indian civilisation is a continuous civilisation of more than four thousand years of recorded history, which thrived and survived due to its flexibility and its unique ability to accommodate diversity and plurality, be it religious, cultural, political or even ideological. Perhaps nowhere does one finds diametrically opposite school of thoughts existing with harmony and any discourse on Indian nationalism must be within this context. considering these facts, it will not be wrong to say that tolerance is one of the key characteristics of Indian nationalism. Hence, The real ‘anti-national ’ is the one who offers violence against dissent & opposite ideologies in the name of a spurious ‘nationalism’.

Why Dissent Isn’t Anti-National?

Because our great nation has been built on dissents expressed at crucial times in its history. The Buddha dissented against the orthodoxy of his times, and the eightfold path stood revealed. Kautilya dissented against the Nandas of Magadh, created the Mauryan empire. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj dissented against the Mughal empire to lay the foundation of the Maratha empire. Dissent of the soldiers led to the First War of Independence in 1857. A long line of dissenters thereafter gave us our path to an independent India. Dr Ambedkar, a man who dissented from even Mahatma Gandhi, gave us a Constitution that has endured all these years.

No matter how abhorrent the thought, or its manner of expression, a mature democracy will tolerate it, and even encourage to debate them. ( The Supreme Court have opined that Mere demands and slogans for Azadi etc will not be crimes unless one goes further and commits violence, or organises violence, or incites imminent violence.”)

It is better for an imperfect thought to be voiced and rejected in the marketplace of ideas, than for it to fester within the warehouses of inexpressible thought. After all, there is no greater idea of democracy than free men, freely and voluntarily, committing to the requirements of citizenship of a free country. Only totalitarian regimes suppress dissent and dissidents.


I think political leaders should spend more time mulling over the failures of politics and thinking about why still the vast majority of our citizens don’t have most basic public services, rather than giving lectures on nationalism.

These are my opinions, dear reader, share yours in the comment box below ✌

Published by Mahesh Mali

Author of 'Reflections of My Youth' | Student @ SPPU | Former Fellow @BeingVolunteer | Freelancer @PlayoApp | Tennis Player

22 thoughts on “Dissent is not anti-national

  1. I feel same. Everyone is suffering from offendicitis. They get offended with one remark alone and blow the issue out of proportion. Freedom of speech should be encouraged not taken away. Disagreements are a way of life as long as it is shown in an appropriate way without hurting someone. Aamir Khans statement that his wife doesn’t feel safe was blown out of proportion and he was condemned, everyone chose to overlook his fantastic job with satya mev jayate or athithi devo bhav campaign. People have turned into that kid, which when not allowed to bat, takes his bat and leaves play ground because he didn’t like it. Shouldn’t we all just grow up and have more tolerance. It is the opposite thought process that many a times keeps us in line and we should encourage it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember the whole intolerance debate started after the Kiran Rao’s statement you are referring to. I also remember how people trolled Mr. & Mrs. Khan, I think, even the reactions of many eminent personalities show that intolerance towards anyone who expresses disagreement is definitely growing.
      You’re right, we should start acting like grownups.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written Mahesh… I agree with you in letter and spirit… I love my India and that’s all for me… And I don’t want others to love their India the way i love mine… I let them love the way they want to…

    Liked by 1 person

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