Nationalism an ideological poison, says Hamid Ansari

(From left) Dr Sucha Singh Gill, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, and BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi at CRRID in Sector 18, Chandigarh, on Thursday. (Express Photo)

Describing nationalism as an “ideological poison” that does not hesitate in transcending individual rights, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari Hamid Ansari said nationalism today is often confused with patriotism but they differ in meaning and content.

Ansari also that societies today face “twin pandemics of religiosity and strident nationalism”, which have come to “diminish the essence of peace, harmony and happiness”.

He was speaking at a two-day international conference on “Guru Nanak’s Philosophy to Spread Peace, Harmony and Human Happiness” at Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh, in collaboration with Government of Punjab and Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi.

The inaugural session of the conference was attended by leading scholars, policy-makers, and government officials along with over a dozen foreign delegates.

The former Vice-President, in his presidential address, said, “Nationalism in its strident form is inseparable from the desire for power. It is an ‘ideological poison’ that has no hesitation in transcending and transgressing individual rights” .

“It is often confused with patriotism and used interchangeably. Both are words of unstable and explosive content and so need to be handled with care since they differ in meaning and content,” he added.

Ansari said that it was not the founders of religious faith who propounded religiosity, but their followers who diluted or corrupted their teachings.

“Similarly, nationalism today has come to identity itself over and above individual moral judgement. It has increasingly been confused with patriotism and if done so with impunity might lead to unstable and explosive conditions,” he said.

Humanity, according to him, can only be saved if both these pandemics are tackled and replaced by human behaviour in light of collective experience and moral guidance. It needs to be recognised that religion is not politics, religiosity is not religion and peace, harmony and happiness can strive only in recognition of justice at all levels, Ansari said adding that this needs an effective dialogue and participation.

“This needs a language of understanding that draws upon cultural values ensured by modern, secular state and respect for human rights. This is reflected in message and teachings of Guru Nanak,” he further said.

In his welcome address, V K Sibal, Member, Governing Body, CRRID, said the views out forward by speakers will help in promoting peace, harmony and happiness.

Prof Sucha Singh Gill, CRRID, said Guru Nanak’s philosophy was based on one God and advocated equality and complete brotherhood.

Former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi began the keynote address by reciting the mol mantra “Ik onkar satnaam.”

Guru Nanak dev ji’s philosophy of work, worship and share can not only resolve turbulent issues in this world but also help in promoting peace, harmony and happiness, he said. He also emphasised on the aspects of environment and said by destroying environment, humans are destroying themselves.

As many as 30 scholars from USA, Canada and UK and different parts of the country will participate in the conference.

(With PTI inputs)