Patriotism in India 2019

-Anjali Shekhawat

How easy do you think it is to be labelled as a Patriot or Nationalist? Quite easy when it comes to 2019 India, it can be achieved through various means as follows- be pro Modi, don’t be critical of the ruling government, agree with every government’s policy and above all respect the symbols more than rights. Just like my rhetorical question in the beginning people often confuse patriotism with nationalism and to some extent they are even right in doing so.

Love for one’s country today is beside the point, what we are instead looking for is a certified patriot, one whose patriotism reaches the extent when there is India vs. Pakistan cricket match or when he or she stands for national anthem in movie theatres or one who takes selfies on important national days. Hence, abusing someone or calling them anti-nation because he or she does not conform to this new definition has become a national sport.

Shashi Tharoor MP from Lok Sabha is apt when he says, “In a diverse democracy as ours we really don’t need to agree all the time so long as you agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree”. One twitter user tweeted after Article 370 verdict that his younger brother who studies in class 6 was asked to do an assignment which required him to write a letter addressed to Prime Minister Modi thanking him for removing article 370. Now propagandist as it sounds this exercise is not new in this government where they have fully controlled the narrative by glorifying its policies and normalising the abnormal. This incident speaks about the mood in the country, either endorse our action with complete disregard for objectivity or we will call you anti-national.

Modi’s govt has also perfected the art of selling patriotism through symbols which is good until we start to lament the death of our soldier more than a man who lost his life for his eating choice. We are more angered by terrorists attack but not so much when Adivasis lose their life fighting to protect forest. And so it’s important to understand what we need to protect, flag or nation? animal or animal eater? Language or languages? We care about the idea of nation but not the concept. Patriotism of today has made us bestfriends with our nation but at the same time an enemy of mankind.

To put in simplest of terms, Patriotism is a rational emotion where one loves one’s country whereas Nationalism is I love my country because my country is ‘the greatest’ and thus it becomes blindfolded and aggressive.

Alasdair Maclntyre, Scottish philosopher defined Patriotism as not an unwavering emotion nor is directed at a particular government but on average it picks as its object the work in progress that is a country.

To my mind what we need is not even blind patriotism which made Tagore lament “to worship my country as god is to bring a curse upon it” no, but a reasonable patriotism.

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