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Strategic Nationalism

I missed this, but thanks to the wonders of the Bharatiya Blogger’s Digest er, Blog Mela, I was able to find Madhu’s screed on Indian-ness. He asks how he can strongly identify with India when on many points (go read them all) he is clearly out of the Indian mainstream.

Not surprisingly, his comments have attracted (besides the usual accusations of brown-sahibbery) a lot of people who feel the same as he does. I must add here that as little as two years back, I would probably have been firmly in the “me too, Madhu” camp. These days, I’m happy to be at ease about it.

The problem begins with the way Madhu states the problem: just how “Indian” am I?. As we will see, ‘how’ is the wrong question: ‘what kind of’ is a much better one.

Attempts to measure Indianness by counting the number of national stereotypes conformed to is not only misguided but dangerous. Nationalism, except in hate-mongering hands, is an instrument of inclusion, not