Vimarsha: Nation and Nationalism - Talk by Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs
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Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs in the ruling NDA government, delivered a perceptive talk on ‘Nation and Nationalism’ at the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) on 27 March 2017. The talk was conducted , part of VIF’s monthly Vimarsha - series of public discourse on issues of historical and contemporary significance for India and the world at large. Following the invocation of Holy Spirit for universal peace, General NC Vij, Director, VIF, welcomed the Hon’ble guest speaker. In his welcome remarks, General NC Vij, former Chief of the Indian Army, underlined ‘India First’, a motto that serves to guide all army men in their line of duty and which is equally applicable for other countrymen also.

Mr M J Akbar provocatively said at the outset that the shape of the 21st century will be determined in the first twenty years just as the shape of 20th century was determined in the first twenty years. He asserted that the two World Wars in the first half of the last century not only effectively ended the era of empires and colonies but also gave rise to nation states. Elaborating on the philosophical underpinnings of nation states, Mr. Akbar described ‘will of the people’ with all its inherent contradictions as one of the defining features of nation states. Further, he explained that whereas both empires and colonies were exploitative in nature and were defined by variable boundaries, will of the people first found resonance with nation states. In the Indian context, 1947 saw the first exercise of will of the people and the creation of rational political space around it.

The Hon’ble Minister however went on to add that even as dilemmas of the nation states are still being resolved, nation states are beginning to face the biggest challenge ever to their existence from faith-based political order which various terrorist groups and networks, inspired by their religion, are seeking to establish. Vouching for nationalism, he described it as an antidote to terrorism.

Among other significant observations, the Hon’ble Minister stressed that unlike other countries who are seeking to create instruments for balance of power, India’s foreign policy is largely fuelled by power of balance. Quoting copiously from history, the Minister spoke perceptively for almost an hour to an applauding audience, which comprised of many former members of defence, civil and diplomatic fraternity, academicians and media professionals, among others.

Event Date 
March 27, 2017
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