Military Nationalism : A Whip for the Bloggers

JNU has been in the forefront of articulating themes of protest against most anti-people policies in its own and well considered perceptions. It is also true that some of the most talked about and oft quoted visiting professors, teachers and students have been associated with this institution namely Sarvepalli Gopal, Romila Thapar,Sitaram Yechury,Prakash Karat the Pattnaik husband and wife duo,among many others.Quite recently at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) there have been meetings (true to tradition) held by a section of the the students protesting the high handedness of the present government and its intolerance of dissent.This led to a chain of events culminating to the arrest of the elected President of the JNU Student Union, Kanhaiya Kumar . It has since come to hold centre-stage in the national imagination. Contentious issues of what is Nationalism, Fascism and Freedom of Speech seem to be agitating young minds and increasingly threatening the future prospects of the democratic process in the University and the country at large. Into this confusing and heated cauldron the Air Force Association, a registered NGO,which runs a web blog on Facebook (created for the purposes of taking care of the interests of the veterans) has taken up cudgels to define and interpret as to what such tongue or mind teasers may mean,their limits and the unsavoury consequences thereof should the veterans be found wanting.( even though they do not wear the uniform in a manner of speaking).

Air Marshal Vir Narain is a free man. And a brave man, too.I dare say ! His perspective is respected by me and I would imagine many others too. I quite agree to what he says ever so briefly but firmly. There is no question of AFA to be apologetic or defensive since he sat at the very top some time ago. The AFA seems to have a point of view to which he has another. The democratic spirit of letting a hundred flowers and thoughts to bloom is reflected in the dissent. In this kind of ‘vivad’ lies the process to cognition of a different truth… That is why a certain Indian Nobel winner celebrated the Argumentative Indian. For the moment it would be fair to say I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. I also notice now that the Air Marshal has only reposted something that he agrees to and urges others to reflect upon.The AFA has jumped into a domain, which by its own admission, is politics. (That it actually pleases me is not part of argument, here).Then,it makes me wonder why the hyper- stridency by AFA and to push a very “sarkari’ definition of nationalism and what  amounts to acceptable student affairs( which uncomfortably resembles and seems aligned to the government of the day) ? Was there an urgent order from the three Army Chiefs at the behest of the Ministry of Home and Defence, I shall never know(but inclined to surmise). Is it the ideology of AFA? To pretend or to be ignorant of the politics that it represents thereby concurrently would be patently naive.There is nothing wrong to appear friendly or subservient to a kind of thinking.But to seek comfort behind a fictitious world of being apolitical and to be the flag bearer of military version of nationalism is at best wishful thinking and at worst to be champion of the government and its politics ! That the AFA is finding it difficult to see the sagacious urgings of the Air Marshal in its proper light and instead wishes to take a high moral ground on the shoulders of some FB enthusiasts, albeit military, unfortunately highlights the problems involved in a surrogate association two-timing the serving IAF to promote the interests of the latter and also hoist the flag for the totally free and unencumbered ‘veterans” as its chosen and its legitimate voice and platform. Air Force Association (AFA)would purportedly like to also tell us all ( the veterans) of what is the limit. To quote : Any friend of the AFA on this page indulging in anti India activities or appearing to be supportive of anti India elements will be first Unfriended and then blocked from this page.Please be careful in whom you support.

Unfortunately you forget, you are because of us the bloggers and not otherwise. To feel otherwise is to miss the wood from the trees and trippily imagine the player to be bigger than the game.Blogging is not a military standard Operating Procedure. The Blogosphere is a free world made to express one’s ideas without fear or favour.AFA has chosen to tread this very dangerous territory of its own accord.I’m afraid you hold the rights limited to the blog,and for that you decide the parameters . To quote again the aggressive and rather ill advised missive of AFA so that the readers get to see the correct picture.(Friends, A very special and endowed individual only can have the honor of wearing any Rank connected with the Indian Armed Forces. These stripes on our arms or our shoulders come to us with tremendous responsibility. The responsibility stays with us till our last breath because we, as leaders of our men, convinced our juniors to fight for the cause that is India.
We can, at no stage, be seen to be supportive of anything or have a thought against this nation and claim that the opinion is our personal and thus doesn’t influence anyone.
Our loyalty to the Nation lasts even as a private citizen and no one in or out of the uniform can claim exemption and support anti India elements in the garb of freedom of speech.
The AFA will continue objecting to any such expression and will expose all such individuals who misguide the gullible in the name of freedom of speech.
We’re all subject to that lakshman Rekha where the idea of India is supreme.)

But did you not set out to test the waters of independence and a certain free wheel of ideas just to see how contemporary you are or growing to be ? You always knew the path was tricky. To decide upon what is freedom of expression,military propriety,honest criticism, the Constitutional provisions, the role of Supreme Commander, the government of the day, its bureaucrats etc you have exposed the faultlines in your feebleness of heart. I wonder whether it ever occurred to you that you may stand to be accused of authoritative trolling in a medium that ostensibly is contrary to that kind of sensibility.Yes we are expected to be civil and not obscene.Your proposition or may I say, the whispered threat would have then successfully created a large band of yes men, servile and mentally challenged with compulsory “likes” on Facebook ! the nay sayers would have switched happily and found other online social media platforms anyways ! Did we not have enough of it already while in Uniform ? Most seem to speak out only when out of it.It is a sad but, true.But, by trying to say “either with us or nothing,” I’m afraid you would have lost the larger battle of the Information Warfare that you should seek to take control of and be in command.(but with greater tolerance, caution and vision,perhaps).

I, seriously wonder, when most veterans of the Vietnam War turned against the employers, USA,the politicians and government on their way back home questioning why and who sent them there to fight no war that was theirs does history define them as traitors today ? It would be a great test of internal cleansing to hear from AFA how does it record that kind of its very own past and does it see in that , some unfortunate resemblances.

They aren’t very pretty,anyways. I am sorry to say .

But, that would be  another story.For another day !

http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/they-can-file-a-charge-posthumously-against-jawaharlal-nehru-too-arundhati-roy/article918002.ecefor more

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