On Nationalism


The 7th of December 2017, traveling via train for close to 50 hours, I was in IITGuwahati taking an entrance test for admission to its Ph.D program. After the screening with the written phase, me and 5 others were put through interview round. The day before and the weeks before it as well I had been reading Political Science Theory papers, and dominantly Andrew Heywood.

I noticed somewhere of the notion treating the idea of nationalism as irrational thought, and I had programmed myself to think so too. And I felt the natural affinity to do so. Also it was necessary for me being a student of Public Administration (yes not Political Science) to have a decision made for myself which one to defend.

Only thing, I did not plan on defending it. But incidentally when I wrote about rational thoughts I included a line diluting nationalism. And that cost me, mostly I’d say among other minuses, the admission to the program.

I was, am, more dissatisfied for my inability to support my statement than idea of losing the opportunity to attend an IIT. It did not had to be true of false, its never that black nor white, it needed reasoning; just like I told the panel the very idea of nationalism was sentimental and irrational.  (I completely forgot the word Patriot as well to worsen my case.) And on the other hand, me being me, for days following I kept thinking how figures like; Shashi Tharoor, Ben Shapiro,  Jordan Peterson manages to multi task Speech and Mind. 🙂

So, some days later in a Cricket match Australian team skipper was called out LegBeforeWicket (LBW). And cricket has a system of reviewing decisions based upon the choice of the two batsmen present on crease. But the skipper instead of making the that choice on field looked at the pavilion, where team management were seated armed with machines and ,what looked like, asked for their opinion. It would be inadmissible. In the post match conference he said it was one of his Brain Fade moment.

That day I found the name of the syndrome I was having then. Simple and catchy.

Brain-Fade.

The readings in the weeks prior to the exam was only a primer to the unconscious choice I had made while reading “Nationalism” by Rabindranath Tagore(ed.1917.).  Unconscious, because I read those essay in a frame of mind of absorbing (most part of year 2016 I was on long read list of  historical accounts) and not to formulate a structured debate. I keep thinking about the exchanges I had with the panel and been longing to do myself the favour of learning about it just enough to justify a stance if it was required,  anywhere.

For now I am a candidate in my former university and days are getting longer in summer. Meanwhile, I have here with me Indian Nationalism by (ed.) Irfan Habib a collection of work on Nationalism.

Hoping it helps.

IN IH

-thoidingjam,s.

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