THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Noted historian K N Panikkar said that there was enough indication that the country was moving towards authoritarianism. “Reminiscent of Golwalker’s demonization of Muslims and communists as enemies of the nation, all those who raise voices of dissent are being targeted as anti-national. Kanhaiya Kumar is the latest example. He is unlikely to be the last,” Prof Panikkar said at the G Rajesh Kumar Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Nationalism: Then and Now’ here on Tuesday.
He said that the emerging fascist tendencies are unmistakable. “Authoritarianism, religious hatred, and violence,” Panikkar said. “What is happening today is a deliberate attempt to transform the character of Indian nation and nationalism from democratic-secular-liberal to religious-fundamentalist,” he said.
Panikkar argued that nationalism was the product of the anti-colonial struggle. “The invention of the nation is contingent upon the ability to imagine a political community, based on perceived common interests. In India, this commonness was engendered by the controlled conditions created by colonial modernity,” he said.
Apart from being a modern phenomenon, Panikkar said that nationalism was also a modernising phenomenon. “Its ideological legacy was liberalism. That is the reason why the early national awakening in India was accompanied by a critique of social and religious practices which were not in synch with modernity,” he said.
Panikkar said that it was emergency that rejuvenated the RSS, a political pariah after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. “It opened the way for the future success of the communal forces. RSS earned political legitimacy by being part of a formation, created in opposition to the Emergency,” he said....