Nationalism: A Powerful Tool

Nationalism: A Powerful Tool

Bhuvana Chandran Chelat

Nationalism is complete when the entire citizens of a nation are closely integrated around a national purpose, uniting the people  despite diversity of religion, language, race and caste, otherwise defined as unity in diversity. A Nation becomes weak when any of the diverse factors like religion, regionalism or language overtakes Nationalism.

Nationalism in Asia:

Hong Kong and Taiwan are identical to Singapore or Switzerland, but not very strong nations which by all means can raise themselves to sovereign and strong positions if their citizens are integrated around Nationalism. Taiwan has to act fast before becoming a Hong Kong and then a Tibet.  Other nations in Asia with such a potential are Vietnam, Japan, S.Korea, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand and around the South China Sea.

Lack of trust and unity among local kingdoms led to slavery under foreign invaders and British colonialism in India for centuries. This has strengthened the Nationalist movement in independent India which has gained enough strength to rule the country since the beginning of 21 century.

India, despite a fast-growth GDP and mighty army, was not a strong nation. India used to get a cold when Pakistan sneezes and bends when China points a finger. But during the last NDA government under Narendra Modi, we have stood firm against both hostile neighbours and as a result, nationalism stood the most winning factor in the recent Lok Sabha election-2019. If a nation like Singapore, Switzerland, Israel, New Zealand or Norway with an average size of 5-6 million population can be strong nations, no doubt India could be the strongest nation in the world if all her 1300 million citizens are integrated and centred around nationalism. What was Lee Kuan Yu for Singapore and David Ben-gurion for Israel, and Deng Xiao Ping for China? Nations need a leadership of courage and vision to drive Nationalism. In comparison to these five nations of 5-6 million population, if Taiwan can drive her 22 million citizens integrated and centred around her nationalism, she could be a much stronger nation like Germany, France, Holland, United Kingdom or Italy. Therefore all SCS countries shall start integrating all their citizens around a national purpose to counter any threat from Mainland China.

Vietnam is a great model of nationalism, where the world’s mightiest defence forces accepted defeat when the collective will power of a tiny nation integrated together.  Ideology is opposite to nationalism. China has an ideology, ie. Communism, which is in contrast to nationalism. The day nationalism gets stronger in China, ideology will get weaker and extinct. Today what is guiding PRC is an Ideology, where it is nationalism that roots in ROC. It is nationalism that makes Japan and Singapore a powerful force. With more people liberated towards capitalism and exposed to human rights in outer world, it is a matter of a few years before we see nationalism getting stronger in China over ideology.

In India, when nationalism is gaining strength, we can see Communists are becoming a weak voice and its ideology losing relevance. It is a failed model in Russia and Soviet block, besides East Europe, Latin America and Vietnam. Many kingdom nations are changing with closed family dictatorship to more of civilian participation. Today Communism in China is so frail and moved far from an ideology to a capitalist model than four decades ago. Deng Xiaoping was right in liberating people from poverty; but Henry Kissinger is proving to be right with extinction of her ideology.

Under any nationalism-driven democracy, we can see a strong solidarity between and among rich and poor, also amongst religions and castes. It is the power of nationalism that brings unity in diversity. On the other hand, those countries ruled by military, religion and ideology, we can hardly see this solidarity. Under military and religion, rich is always seen hands-in-glove with the state, whereas under ideology, its existence is class-war, a culture of conflict between ‘haves and have-nots’. Today wherever we can see this ideology in power, the leaders are no more proletarians, but they are pseudo-capitalists. The worst example is in China, where the state is limited to a capital and market-driven economy where a great amount of state’s wealth is used to suppress internal dissidents and to support external non-democratic forces.

Over the last 4 decades China has liberated over 80% of its people from poverty, mostly accessible to internet and digital technology. It is  anyone’s guess how much of their founding ideology remains among these segments. The wealthy and middle class community that comprises over two-thirds of her population are of capitalism mindset. Over 900 million people are exposed to human rights, political freedom and democratic reforms that transformed the world around. UN, IMF and World Bank boasts very high about China’s GDP, economy, industrial output, export and foreign trade, forget about integration of people liberated from poverty but not from democratic rights. Today over two-thirds of Chinese industrial output is consumed domestically with declining export, which world’s economists are less wary about its result on people’s refrain with the redundant ideology that rules the country. No one can deny the fact that the state’s power is centralised with few leaders at the top, on the other side her citizens embracing capitalism, human rights and political freedom.

China-World’s Exposure Index shows that the relative world’s exposure to China has increased over the years, against China’s exposure to the world has fallen, resulting in more trade disputes emerging from protectionist policies, which do not exist with free trade policies of most other capitalist or democratic nations. Out of Fortune-500 index, 110 companies are from China, out of which two-thirds are government owned. Most Chinese products are cheaper with higher government subsidies supported by State’s revenue. As smaller sovereign states like Singapore, Dubai, Qatar, Luxembourg, Monaco and Liechtenstein are governed as corporations, China will fail in ruling Hong Kong or to some extent Taiwan, unlike Tibet, by using its force.

About the One-China policy, Taiwan feels sarcastic. China will merge with other China when the big brother is destined to embrace capitalist democracy. With political cycles becoming shorter and faster than predictions, it is a matter of 3-5 years or a decade that Mainland China will give-up her founding ideology and will embrace a Nationalism-driven electoral democracy.

In contrast, Pakistan, Iran, Gulf countries, Iraq and Syria, religion exceeds their national purpose. It is autocracy and military junta that exceeds nationalism in North Korea. As a result, these are either fragile, failed, frail, hence arrogant countries. A Nationalist movement around democracy brings a solution in these countries. Surprisingly two democracies never fought a war with each other. Countries aided by China are severely debt trapped unlike under US or European block.

India: A Socialist democracy to Nationalist democracy.

Since independence, India adopted Socialist Democracy founded by Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Indian National Congress. Over seven decades this policy institutionalised corruption and minority vote bank until 2014 when socialist democracy lost to Nationalist democracy under NDA rule. The Nation realised the importance of Nationalism over Socialism, which led to winning the recent Lok Sabha election in 2019 with Nationalism as the most contested winning factor than ideology, poverty, language or religion. This has transformed a Socialist Democracy to a Nationalist Democracy where citizens are getting integrated around Nationalism. Nationalism has made the country a stronger nation than five years ago, resulting in respect and recognition in the UN and other world forums. Today a matter of less than three months, Indian Parliament could legalize several bold reforms of National interest.

With the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K, integrated more opposition parties with the ruling NDA. It also resulted in nationalism getting more accepted and penetrated into larger citizen bases including the opposition. Other reforms like Uniform Civil Code, Anti-insurgency law, NRC, UAPA, etc. will integrate the nation around Nationalism.

A separatist conflict that prevailed in Jammu & Kashmir for more than seven decades, which can lead to a solution when the locals are liberated from religious extremism and integrated to mainstream nationalism that brings development, jobs, education, prosperity and enriching livelihoods. A similar but a more customised strategy could bring peaceful co-existence in the troubled Palestine and the rest of the Arab world.

Nationalism in Europe, Latin America and Africa

We can see a long robust history of Nationalism in West Europe- England, France, Germany, Benelux, Swiss, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Sweden, where the same nationalism is weak in former Soviet group and East Europe. The power of Nationalism in West Europe is so stronger and most respected than anywhere else in the world. Russia still lives in the past glory of Ideology where Russian Nationalism is a dream by far.

Latin America, with the exception of Brazil which was under Spanish and Portuguese colonies where Nationalism is yet to mature and season, most of the smaller countries are not democracies, rather ruled by autocrats.

In Africa, Egypt had a strong spirit of Nationalism, but Arabian Spring reversed its democratic movement to radicalism. A nationalist movement established a democracy in South Africa, where those Magreb countries- Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia 0have deep influence of religion. The remaining countries in Africa are unstable with racism, poverty or civil war. Middle East is divided between oil kingdoms and extremism-torn countries where Democracy or Nationalism will remain unreachable for decades. Israel is the only example of Nationalism-centric.

Nationalism unites people of any country and when all citizens are united around nationalism, peace prevails internally. Countries which are internally peaceful, hardly get into conflict with other countries.


The facts and views expressed in the article are those of the writer.