Days after making a surprise visit to Bilal Bagh, Bengaluru’s Shaheen Bagh, veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah voiced his concerns about the current state of the nation, saying, he's felt the need to "re-examine what it is that is unique about this country" of late.
The actor, who was speaking at an event titled 'India, My Valentine' in Mumbai, said even though he had never felt the need to prove his patriotism to anybody, he was elated to be a part of an initiative, which celebrated one's love for India.
"Despite the fact that I never felt the need to wear my love for my country on my sleeves, I must congratulate Swara (Bhasker, co-organiser of India, My Valentine’s) and the team for this initiative. I thank her for asking me to join all of you in celebrating our country and sending a valentine to our nation. At a time when a lot of us are grappling to understand what’s going on around us, I think I am not alone in agonising over a question as to whether all this was always latent and has finally burst forth, not being able to be contained any longer."
"Or has there been a complete change in our country in the last decade. Apart from the fact that we are moving from three million ton to five million ton. I am not a social scientist, so I don’t know the answer," the actor said.
Shah then read out excerpts from former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s book The Discovery of India, saying, the book could shed some light on these questions.
"Maybe it will show you the direction. I've also in these times felt the need to re-examine, rediscover what it is that is unique about this country, what is that creates such unconditional love for this country, what it is that has always been our pride and has won the admiration of the entire world and I think Pandit Nehru's writing gives an answer to those questions," he added.
The following are excerpts from The Discovery of India that Shah read out during his speech at the event:
The diversity of India is tremendous; it is obvious; it lies on the surface and anybody can see it. It concerns itself with physical appearances as well as with certain mental habits and traits. There is little in common, to outward seeming, between the Pathan of the North-West and the Tamil in the far South. Their racial stocks are not the same, though there may be common strands running through them... Yet, with all these differences, there is no mistaking the impress of India on the Pathan, as this is obvious on the Tamil.
The Pathan and the Tamil are two extreme examples; the others lie somewhere in between. All of them have their distinctive features, all of them have still more the distinguishing mark of India.
Earlier, in an interview with The Wire, Shah spoke at length about his worries about the amended citizenship law, asking why 70 years of living in India were not proof enough of him being a citizen. Shah also took a jibe at his fellow actor Anupam Kher for supporting the government's move.
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