Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday said the word “nationalism” could be equated with “Nazism and fascism” by some people, and advised his organisation to avoid using it, NDTV reported. Bhagwat made the remarks at an event organised by the Sangh at Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi.
Bhagwat recalled how a Sangh volunteer had advised him against using the word during a visit to the United Kingdom, PTI reported. “I was on a visit to the UK,” he said. “A karyakarta [party worker] advised me not to used the word nationalism as English is not our language and it could have a different meaning in England. It’s okay to say nation, national and nationality but not nationalism. Because it means [alludes to] Hitler, Nazism and fascism [in England].”
The comments came at a time when the the Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre is facing protests across India for the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the proposed all-India National Register of Citizens. The saffron party has increasingly veered towards a nationalist agenda, and defended moves such as these and the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status as necessary for maintaining national security.
Bhagwat claimed only India, with its ethos and holistic views, was capable of solving global problems posed by radicalism and climate change. “It has been India’s policy to neither become a slave nor make anyone a slave,” he added. “India has a quality of uniting everyone. Indian culture is Hindu culture.”
The Sangh chief said his organisation was expanding with “the end goal to make India a world leader”. “India has to become a world leader,” he added. “As India grows as a nation, it helps the entire world.”
Bhagwat said different countries had different languages, religions, and models of economic development. Someone who does not accept them cannot be its citizen, he claimed. “You can be [their] guest, host, minority, anything, even enemy, but not its national,” he added, but did not elaborate.
Bhagwat called on the Sangh’s members to connect with people irrespective of their caste, language, religion or region. He said it was India’s characteristic is to unite everyone with a thread on the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam [the world is a family]. “We live for each other, not for ourselves,” he added. “We believe that the world has made us and we have to give back to it and we look at the world with gratitude.”