Once the old chestnuts of patriotism and nationalism are pulled out, it is impossible to argue further. From this self-righteous pedestal, the ‘patriot’ will dismiss or paint anyone who has even a remotely contradictory view as a treacherous traitor who is ungrateful to his/her mother/fatherland.
….What is deplorable is Ramakrishnan's equation and linkage of something as lofty and noble as patriotism and nationalism with something as banal and ridiculous as the clogging of his e-mail accounts and a general disgust at being troubled by his countrymen.
… Patriotism, at its core, has an intersection of noble values. … These are the values of link and affinity with a culture, a people, a territory and a national identity. It is his sentiment alone which connects India and Indians, despite this country being the greatest aggregation of diversities on this planet."
In fact, I face the risk of being branded a traitor because I referred to noble values such as patriotism and nationalism as ‘old chestnuts’.
But if Mr Singhvi would cast aside his super-noble blinkers for a brief moment, he will realise that for a scientist engaged in pursuit of knowledge and truth, it is necessary to look beyond national identities. The research ecosystem has a global base and it is important that you don’t create barriers in your mind while seeking data or in assimilating the results from research carried out in some other corner of the world. Development in one’s field is dependent and closely linked to co-developments in various other fields and various other regions.
So, while Tamilnadu could claim proprietary rights over him because he was born here, or Gujarat could claim him as its own, because he did most of his studying there, Venky could respond in one of following two ways to such exuberance.
1) To come up with a lengthy statement acknowledging the role played by each one of his teachers from kindergarten onwards in shaping him, instilling the scientific spirit, motivating him for higher achievements, etc, and how proud he was to be born an Indian and a Tamilian, etc. Mr Singhvi would have loved it. I would have dismissed his statement as vacuous nonsense, even though it sounds gracious.
2) To tick the Indians off and tell them where they get off. Congratulatory messages are fine, but not ones that solely celebrate the fact of his being born here or hold this fact as being responsible for the Nobel.
He chose the second one. This gave Mr Singhvi the ammunition to shoot off an op-ed to TOI and to flaunt the patriotic badge on his sleeve. And me the material for yet another blog post to display my contrarian streak.