The Department of Political Science in collaboration with Jamia Discussion Forum organized a lecture on “Nationalism and The India – Pakistan Peace Process” on Friday, 26th July 2013, by Dr. Taimur Rahman, Assistant Professor and Coordinator Political Science at Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan and the vocalist and spokesperson of the famous rock band Laal. The programme was chaired by Dr. Sucharita Sengupta, Assistant Professor in the political science department at Jamia.
Tracing the history of nationalism, Dr. Rahman spoke about how nationalism has become the dominant ideology of the modern world and the basis upon which most states have been reconstructed in recent history. “Although religion may be the most prevalent ideology, it is nationalism with its various permutations and formations that dominates the politics of the globe today. It is one of those terms that we use all the time, yet it remains elusive so far as its definition is concerned,” he said.
He went on to talk about the emergence of nation states wherein nation became the foundation of modern state and multinational states wherein the modern state came about as a consequence of conquest before the emergence of a nation resulting in formation of multinational states. Speaking about nationalist movements within multinational states like India and Pakistan, he said, “At the heart of this entire phenomenon found both within India and Pakistan is the central understanding that nationalism is an ideology for social control in which certain groups, certain classes tend to dominate and make the oppressed sections of that society believe that the best means for their social betterment is by supporting the ruling group of their own nation”.
Focusing on the exclusivity of nationalism, Dr. Taimur Rahman said that there was so much to learn in the world but at one level, nationalism tends to make you intellectually exclusive in the negative sense. “It prevents from having a world where we can do away with war, militarism, exploitation, hatred and animosity towards one another. It prevents us from forming a world free of exploitation, oppression, patriarchy, capitalism, feudalism, landlordism, sexism, racism, and all those aspects that degrade humanity by saying ‘You are less than I am,” he stated.
Jamia Journal caught up with Dr. Taimur Rahman while he was taking a look around the Jamia campus and had a brief chat with him about peace, politics, music and more. Here’s an excerpt:
JJ: Where do you see Indo-Pak relations going from here?
Dr. Rahman: *laughs* I got no time to speak about it in the lecture. The most important thing is to see peace between the two countries. Both possess nuclear arms. Military conflagrations have caused untold suffering for both sides. We are also states that have millions of poor people living in our countries. So isn’t it better that we take care of our people rather than going to war against each other? If you want to declare war on anything, you should declare it on illiteracy, lack of healthcare, lack of rights, lack of political representation etc. These are things that we need Jihad and war against, not against each other.
JJ: What steps do you feel the two countries need to take for establishing this peace that we talk about?
Dr. Rahman: I think Pakistan and India in this regard have come a long way forward in achieving peace in the sense that the peace process that began more than a decade and half ago now has really come a long way. The most successful aspect of this has been the peoples to peoples contact. States keep having mutual dialogues off and on but this Track Two diplomacy means a lot. I wouldn’t be here in Jamia campus right now had this Track Two diplomacy not been there. I would like more people from Pakistan to come here and more people from India to visit Pakistan.
JJ: How has your experience of visiting India been?
Dr. Rahman: Very, very nice! I came thrice last year, this is my fourth trip. I went to Calcutta, stayed there for a month. Performed in JNU last evening! It has been wonderful.
JJ: And when are you coming to Jamia again?
Dr. Rahman: Hopefully, this September! We are planning a tour then. We might even have a performance here. I have really enjoyed coming to this historical place and meeting the students. Now I can tell people back home in Pakistan that I visited this historical university.
JJ: What about your music? Do you think it serves the purpose you use it for?
Dr. Rahman: It is music for social transformation and I think it has definitely helped. The whole content of our music is based on progressive social poetry- talking about people’s issues, about working class strikes, women’s rights and so on.
Listen to Laal Band on Youtube here: