Indian Millennials
Indian Millennials Have a Healthy Sense of Indian Nationhood Mr. Patel

We are not living in Nehru’s India anymore where only very few could travel the length and breadth of the country.

  • Indian Millennials have shed old-skin and have a healthy sense of Indian nationhood, whereas oped writers live in a world where some or the other old, hackneyed Marxist trope still rules the day.
  • India is instinctively defined in the imagination of the millennials, for which it does not need much help from old-timers who labored all through the first decade of the 21st century — constructing some vague but forever-in-the-works “secular” and “liberal”- “idea of India”

So many of the enlightened op-eds, which come out of the left-leaning newspapers and online spaces are such hackneyed, they are now not even funny anymore. Placing my full faith in the goodness of everyday Indians I have long made my peace with the likes of Aakar Patel telling how all of us in so many different ways are upper-castiest, how all of us hate Dalits, and how in a subtle way our parents nurtured us with misogynistic values when they introduced us to the Amar Chitra Katha which is anti-minority, anti-Dravidian, anti-women, and explains everything from our obsession with fair skin to the violence against women.

Repeating this formula for the nth time, in his latest piece in Mint, Aakar writes how we in the north grew up calling all southerners ‘madraasis’, how such attitudes towards our southern brethren were ingrained in the collective imagination across the Hindi belt through characters played by the likes of Mehmood in Bollywood movies (think Padosan).

Now all of this would have been very instructive had it not been for the fact that such issues have been dissected in their minutest detail many times over and hardly need reiterating, and more importantly, because of the development of the twin cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad in the South, there is increased navigation of northerners towards the South which has resulted in far better attitudes overall.

The fact is that Aakar is late by a decade and a dozen of similar, more nuanced writings on the subject. We are not living in Nehru’s India anymore where only very few could travel the length and breadth of the country, spending much of their lives engrossed in the matters of their own village or city. Today, with increased intermingling through economic opportunities in big cities spread in the entirety of India’s geography, there is now perceptibly increased awareness of other communities. This is best illustrated not by pouring through research papers published in the EPW, but through so many anecdotal surveys done by and for the popular culture of today.

Take for instance the very popular YouTube channel, Being Indian, among other similar channels which, more than our oped writers, is winning over Millennials and is truly reflecting their views. Being Indian (BI) is a popular urban youth-oriented YouTube channel which reflects the array of milieus and moods of our country’s youth in urban centres. I would recommend Aakar to watch a few videos of BI such as ‘We Are South Of India’, ‘Every UP-ite in the World’, ‘Every Delhi Girl in the World’, etc. Every community is brought to the fore as the show randomly interviews people and asks them what “shit” Gujju boys say, what “shit” Gujju girls, Maharashtrian boys, Bengali mothers say. Doing so, we celebrate this new 21st century intermingling of a plethora of Indians. We celebrate how we are not just each other but how — to borrow an expression of Neruda’s — “we are many”.

BI Channel

image courtesy: Google Images

And alas, for there is no conflict when our main-man Sahil Khattar, a Punjabi (I presume), speaks to Indians of different communities. There is for one, no racial hatred between the progeny of the northerners — ‘Vedic aryans’ — and the southerners —‘Dravidians’ — or desire to avenge the injustices visited upon their ancestors through the false and mythical Aryan invasion, and for two, no existential confusion brought by any conflict between the regional and national identities that our enlightened intellectuals can help resolve.

That is because through so many generations after Independence and the birth of the Indian Union, it has dawned upon Indians, howsoever obtusely, with or without reading NCERT history books, that they belong to one country which is host to a plethora of regional identities, all of which only deepen and strengthen the national character: because a proud Bengali draws upon the rich legacy of the Bengali tradition visited by the likes of Tagore and Vivekananda, just as a proud Marathi looks upon Shivaji and Lokmanya, and a proud Tamil towards the great and timeless Tamil tradition visited most recently by the great poet Bharathi — all of whom spoke of Hind Swaraj.

The debates of and the imagination of Indian Nationalism

It has been argued by historians of the Marxist fold that Indian nationalism rests on, and is born out of the freedom struggle. I have deep reservations against this idea; however, it is very obvious that with the fading memory of colonialism, spoken if at all, in the dense post-colonial theory, no one on the younger side of 30 (60% of India) really cares if we were brought together through collectively opposing the Brits or through sitting round in a circle peeling potatoes in someone’s wedding. What is of relevance is that at the end of it all there has been cultivated a sense of the collective “Indian”.

We should pause for a moment and look at the letters and lectures given by the likes of Lokmanya Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal to realize what a momentous feat this is and just for how long this has been coming. They who labored all their lives to inculcate a sense of the national — so that it could inform the freedom struggle; Lokmanya being a Marathi who did not know Hindi and hence spoke in English to a crowd gathered in Varanasi, similarly Pal a Bengali who did not know Tamil and so spoke in English to a gathering in Chennai — exhorting them to unite in the name of Hind Swaraj.

Aside: Left-leaning intellectuals on the one hand seem far too suspicious of just about any idea of nationalism: arguing sometimes that there was no India before the Republic was birthed through the Constitution, and at other times, as Ram Guha writes in his book The Enemies of The Idea of India, essentially admitting to a lack of any positive sense of Indian nationalism:

The nationalisms of 19th century Europe, which provided the template for many later nationalisms (including those or Israel and Pakistan) united citizens around a single religion, a single language, and a common enemy. On the other hand, as articulated by Tagore, Gandhi and the Indian Constitution, the idea of India contains within it capacious borders more social diversity than any other nation. It privileges no particular religion, does not enforce a common language, and does not promote patriotism by identifying or demonizing a common external (or internal) enemy. (Emphasis mine)

It is thus that the JNU historian Mridula Mukherjee (arguably more serious than Mr. Guha) has to step forward and clarify that “there is a progressive nationalism, there is also a jingoistic nationalism”. We reckon that Mukherjee in her meditations on Indian history came across the idea of ‘Hind Swaraj’ far too often to dismiss Indian nationalism (the same thing as Hind Swaraj) wholesale, unlike most of her fellow travelers at JNU who feel no such compulsion. However, and funnily enough, Mukherjee in her speech tries to appropriate the idea of Indian nationalism towards a “progressive”, Leftish bend, and away from the Right, instead of, perhaps, arguing for a nationalism as an idea good in itself without belonging to either Left or Right.

All this is not to say that every Indian millennial understands the deep nuances of Indian nationalism — but I submit that it is in the new imagination of this large mass of young intermingling people — one that goes to University of Delhi and fills Kamla Nagar with so many hues, or one which comes to Bangalore from every nook and corner of the country and speaks in one voice in the comment section of an NYT article on India — that forever now a collective India and a collective Indian is emerging, and that this is a positive and healthy sense of Indian nationhood.

Like the Delhi-bred corporate techie character of Anushka Sharma in the movie NH10, who cannot name her own caste: the youth of India is shedding old skin, while cultivating a new sense of nationalism, when at the same time our oped writers write whatever has trickled through and become permanent and popular in their world of old, hackneyed Marxist post-colonial literature where a struggle against the “elite upper castes” is forever in bloom.

Asian Cosmopolitanism

In a lecture given in Kochi on the topic of ‘Asian Cosmopolitanism’, Ashis Nandy said that while studying ethno-religious violence, he focused on the city of Kochi because it had not seen such violence for 3000 years as per oral and 600 years as per recorded history. Nandy said that he interviewed many hundred people for his research, and when the usual answers that “we are progressive, therefore we don’t have violence” or “we are educated people, we are not like the North Indians” or that “oh we are all secular” were exhausted, he probed further to learn about their community-life. What Nandy concluded as the reason behind Kochi’s lack of history of ethno-religious violence was that “nobody (no community) liked anybody (other community) else in Kochi”. That “Kochi’s amity is based on mutual dislike”.

Ashis Nandy

Ashis Nandy

Nandy learned that all of the communities in Kochi had “had their own private histories, (which in other parts of India we call jati puraana)…in which other communities do not fare well.” In these “mythical histories” the other communities are “ranked according to the way in which they have helped them in some distant past…and it’s all mythical history, it is not history. But these mythical histories, this attitude has two or three running themes… One, all communities were internalized: they were not only outside, they might dislike them, but they were…inside. You could not define yourself without referring to the other communities.”

To illustrate his point Nandy gave the example of the two Jewish communities in Kochi as he found out that “even the two Jewish communities in Kochi didn’t like each other… One community said we don’t allow our children to marry theirs, because they have forgotten Jewish rituals [as] we are 500 years old, we know [these] better, because they came 200 years before. And the other one say what do they know of Cochin, what do they know of Jewish tradition, [when they have only been here for] 500 years…” Concluded Nandy that this is “a different concept of cosmopolitanism” wherein “every community knew that the other community didn’t think much of them either, and they gulped it”.

Said Nandy to the Kochi crowd that this is not a cosmopolitanism where one is supposed to “one by one…shed all your prejudices, negative stereotypes, and so on and so forth, and emerge pristine, pure”—inviting laughter from the gathering—“global citizen hating nobody”. “I don’t think its possible, particularly in a society which is a community based”.

In his final damning addressal to the high Brahmins of our day said Nandy that the White Man’s Burden has “now gradually transformed into yellow man’s or brown man’s burden, because we have internalized it so well that our leadership, our rulers have begun to think this way, about how to push this recalcitrant, obstinate people towards higher plane of civilization, towards a higher plane of development, and so on and so forth”.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Kush Arora is a consultant with a Big Four American bank.
  • IndiannotAmused

    BharatVarsha is here……… stay.

  • Jitendra Desai

    Good retort to Aakar, who has written similar piece in TOI also.As for Ashish Nandi less said the better.After Narendra Modi won second assembly elections in 2007, this great thinker wrote that Gujaratis were completely communalised and hence were voting for Hindu bigot.

  • @colonelgerard

    Very well written piece by the author & from my own experiences in various cities I agree with him 100%. Slowly but surely this is the new India which is emerging in our cities, which attract talent from all over. I definitely don’t see as much regionalism today as when I was growing up. This mingling & mixing is all for the good and the key would be to sustain it by taking it to the next tier of cities & creating job opportunities for the future. I like the fact that the author has given a realistic & grounded perspective to the sensitive issue of caste. Definitely agree that in the urban context this has ceased to be a divisive force

  • Karigar Medha


  • शरण् कुमार्

    Well written except the last para where the author says “In his final damning addressal to the high Brahmins of our days..” What follows this sentence has nothing to do with this part. For what fault of the Brahmans should they be damned? The millennials have to learn to put a definitive end to Anti-Brahmanism that is as much part of the colonial baggage.

    • Kush

      Here I’m going by the Gita definition of brahmin – men of learning- by which I mean “intellectuals”. The Brahmins of our day are the op-ed writers in our newspapers. – Author

      • शरण् कुमार्

        Thanks for the reply. I shall be excused for a long answer. —- Two things need to be clear. One, there is a paradox in your way of reasoning Two, that still does not answer the question why Brahmans alone need to be damned. Let me explain. —- You say you go by the definition of Brahmana given in the Gita, namely an intellectual. You then say that today Brahmans are not intellectuals anymore, as they now exercise the varna of op-ed writing. While there is nothing un-intellectual about writing, some Brahmanas have internalized the logical categories of Missionary-Mullah-Marxists due to existential reasons. There are other reasons that Non-Brahmanas like yourself do not “want to” understand. Why have the Brahmans become un-intellectual? (I cannot but recall that 3 Nobel Laureates in science happen to be Brahmans, but for argument sake…) It is because at the moment, neither the Brahmana nor the Brahmana-tattva is respected in this country. Third-rate Shudra-tattva and vaishya-tattva are glorified at the expense of kshatriya and Brahmana-tattvas. Just look at the lack of universities of international standards in this country. Nowhere can a Brahmana Professor, for example, wear the tripundra and proudly claim the greatness of his Hindu ancestry. The Brahman’s greatest enemies are the co-Hindus themselves. As long as the Brahmanas controlled the spread of knowledge, they were the greatest innovators so much so that they were light years ahead of the West. It is the same Brahmana-tattva of the Brahmanas who allowed anyone irrespective of the Jati to pursue learning (Aiteraya, Vyasa, Valmiki, Vishwamitra, 80% of the various sapta-rishis, etc. were non-Brahmanas). Today, education is in the hands of the mlecchas and the non-brahmanas; that is the main reason why there is no dharma in education, an abundance of intellectual dishonesty (think of the Vedic tradition of starting the commentary/work with the mangalacharanam and citing the works of the predecessors) and teaching shops that do not give importance to knowledge (brahmana-tattva) but only to profit (vaishya-tattva) in exchange for third-rate labor (watered down shudra-tattva). Enough said. Now to the second aspect. It is a crime to say that the Brahmanas be damned. They have given their lives to protect the Vedas and Dharma. Had it not been for their sacrifices, there would be no Hinduism today(all the Jatis contributed to a great extent to this end, but the intellectual backbone strengthened by brahmana-tattva never ceased to inspire others). It is because of the “glacial indifference” and Anti-Brahmanism of non-Brahmanas that the Kashmiri Pandits are refugees in their own country. Make no mistake. That is so because they are Brahmans. Had it been any other Jati, the case would have been very different. So, please let the non-Brahmanas vow not to continue the legacy of the Brahmans being made the whipping boys of all and sundry. Sarve janaaha sukhino bhavanthu.

        • slayer98

          Your analysis about Brahminism is extra-ordinary and more sensible. Brahminism simply does mean Brahmin hegemony but dissemination of knowledge at various levels thus paving the way for social harmony that existed for millenia but for the invaders who disrupted this harmony.

          • शरण् कुमार्

            Thanks for the reply. Now, that is precisely the paradox that I mentioned earlier. Brahmanism cannot be the byword for hegemony, oppression on the one hand and liberty, harmony, etc. one the other all at once. —– I would be doubly glad if could explain what you mean by —- “Brahmana hegemony”——.


          I agree that Anti-Brahminism is anti Hinduism but at the same time I disagree with your statement It is because of the “glacial indifference” and Anti-Brahmanism of non-Brahmanas that the Kashmiri Pandits are refugees in their own country. Make no mistake. That is so because they are Brahmans. Had it been any other Jati, the case would have been very different.

          There is difference between Brahmin and Brahman and many of those Hindu refugees from Papisthan and Bangladesh dont belong to the Brahmin community and their plight is still ignored by everyone else.View the video from 10:05- the Anusuchit Jati ie SC,STs have had to face the worst in Pakistan.The reason why I am mentioning this is its not about this varna vs that or this jati vs that,for the Abrahamics we are Heathens,Infidels,Kaffirs,Idolators and hence our lives dont matter so to say that just because Kashmiris who faced Exodus are Brahmins hence are being ignored is wrong.In general the Native traditions world over are not given their due status by the Abrahamics and especially somehow the word Hindu means COMMUNAL to all the secularists.So kashmiri Pandit voice not being heard or given space is because they are Hindu similarly it applies to Hindus of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

          While discussing assault strategy, military commanders use a term called “softening the target.” It connotes actions that facilitate the capture of a post, bunker, or any other target. The actions can be bombardment by the air force aircraft or heavy shelling by artillery; both were used by India in its war with Pakistan in Kargil in 1999. Aerial and territorial bombardment softens up the target by causing destruction and engendering disarray in the enemy camp, thus making the task of the infantry less dangerous.

          Communists and Leftwing intellectuals are waging a war for which they soften up the people. Their weapons?the weapons of mass deception?are guilt-mongering and indoctrination. The ultimate objective is the destruction of capitalism.

          Their task is two-pronged: one, of deflecting attention of society from their own misdemeanors (in Russia, China, Cambodia, North Korea, etc.); and, two, of shifting blame to others. For this purpose, they use guilt, among other things, to seek acceptance and legitimacy in a civilized society. Usually, they succeed; for guilt is, as historian Paul Johnson wrote, “the corrosive vice of the civilized,” and they are adept in increasing the potency of this vice.

          Reds and intellectuals drill guilt into the hearts and minds of the civilized. In schools, we are taught about the greatness of Marx, Marxism, Russian and Chinese Revolutions?and little, if anything, about the Gulag, labor camps, the brutal collectivization drives, the violence perpetrated by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, the millions killed in various experiments and purges. For instance, millions of educated Indians have been brought up on a history book (The Story of Civilization, Party II) which presents the Russian Revolution great humanitarian exercise: “Russia then launched on its programme of building a new society.” “Glaring inequalities in society disappeared.” Nothing on the killing of thousands of people by Bolsheviks, nothing on Cheka, nothing on the Red Terror that ensued. Such was their bloodlust that even a Marxist theoretician, Karl Kautsky, said, “Among the phenomena for which Bolshevism has been responsible, terrorism, which begins with the abolition of every form of freedom of the Press, and ends in a system of wholesale execution, is certainly the most striking and the most repellent of all.”

          For more on the Bengalis turning away from Hindu Nationalism and ending up becoming Communist which also led to the alienation and cowardice,please refer

          Tathagata Roy’s My People, Uprooted A Saga of the Hindus of Eastern Bengal, later republished under the title A Suppressed Chapter in History The Exodus of Hindus from East Pakistan and Bangladesh

  • srikrishna sadula

    The world (particularly India) moving/moved ahead with the effect of urbanization/globalization.. but likes of marx&mao still moaning in old age..

  • P. B. Josh

    Aakar Patel deserves refutation only by us common readers. He does not deserve to be refuted by any published author. He is well exposed as anti-Hindu. He hates every second of his existence what inheritance God gave him.

  • Suresh

    too much words spent on a bekaar patel who hides his middle name “ahmed” and likely tries to hide his hatred of all things “hindu”. trolling Modi and BJP under alleged humour columns- he will soon need his own organisation – Amnesty international.i.e he will need to find amnesty in some international destination.

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      Good info about the middle name But what does that mean? His second name or his father’s name.?

  • It would have been better to take on the bigger “progressives” of Nehruvian India, like Kosambi, A.K. Ramanujan and U.R. Anathamurthy. By addressing the likes of Aakar Patel (link) and endorsing an Ashish Nandy, the author gives undeserving attention to these windbags (link).

    • Kush

      Many comments here asking why I focussed on responding to Aakar. This piece is not so much a response to Aakar as it is an endorsement of the good sense of Indian youth who will not be duped by the likes of Aakar. I read your blog which is linked here. Excellent writing. – Kush