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Do You Call Yourself Patriotic? Why do most of us get gripped with a patriotic fervour only when it comes to India-Pakistan, be it border skirmishes or cricket matches? Why do we forget our patriotism in our daily lives?
Over the last few days, patriotism came to the forefront in India (and maybe in Pakistan too). Ranging from the conservative form to the chest thumping variety, we got an array on display. I do not agree or disagree with any kind of patriotism. In a free country, we have the liberty to choose what our mode of expression is. However, what did strike me was perhaps the convenient and intermittent nature of our patriotism. Why do we (at least most of us) get gripped with a patriotic fervour only when it comes to India-Pakistan, be it border skirmishes or cricket matches? Why do we forget our patriotism in our daily lives?
I went online to check the definition of patriotism all over again. Here is what I found – ‘the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment.’ At another place, it said – ‘devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country’. A few words stood out for me – love, devotion, alliance, and support.
At the same time, I questioned myself if I was patriotic. Not just during the battles on the international borders, but in everyday life. This introspection led me to compile a list of all the things I must do to be able to call myself patriotic.
What is a country if not for its Constitution? We may believe we abide by all the provisions of the Indian Constitution. But, do we?
To take an obvious example, the Constitution of India assures ‘equality’ for the citizens. But haven’t there been so many times when people would treat those less privileged at an arm’s distance? I have seen families going to restaurants to eat while making their household help/ child’s nanny wait outside/ sit on a separate table.
Any person who does this cannot call herself/ himself a patriot.
I understand it is difficult to keep up to date in these times of ‘breaking news’, ‘fake news’, and OTT media. But it is probably worse if you bury your head in the sand. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Find responsible media houses to follow. Look for information from multiple sources before believing it to be true. Share only validated information.
Any person who believes WhatsApp forwards without validating them, & shares these further, cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
I recently came across someone who was cursing all the politicians. On being asked who had she voted for in the last election, the lady said – “Sorry to tell that I have never voted in my life. This time, I have got my voter card made for the first time. So, I will vote this time if I come to know where to go.”
I believe I spent that entire day in a state of shock. This is not a recently-turned 18 y.o. that we are talking about. This is a full-grown adult. A vote is perhaps the biggest strength a democracy can give us and people fail to exercise this strength!
Further, the lady in question was going to vote if she came ‘to know where to go’. I shake my head with disbelief. If we are able to find out the restaurant that serves the best nihari, how difficult can it be to ascertain your polling booth?
There are ample stories of Indian citizens making treacherous journeys to cast their votes. So, really, what excuse do you have?
Any person who does not vote cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
Be it central, state, or local laws, they are there for a purpose. Sorry to burst your bubble but traffic rules fall under this too. I have seen many people using social media to proclaim their patriotism and then, step out and jump the first traffic signal they see!
Where does the patriotic fervour go when encountered with simple laws and rules governing everyday life? This is the simplest example but I can move on to horror stories of business owners beating up their workers as the latter dared to ask for their wages.
Any person who does not obey laws cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
This country gives its citizens the right to worship whichever God they want. Yet, we see many forcing their belief down others’ throats. Sorry to say but if your God or guru or preacher has the merit, I may flock to Her/Him myself; you will not need to coerce me.
At the same time, I do not have the right to hate/ ridicule any religion, or differentiate on its basis. I live in an area where the household staff comes from one of the minority religions. I have heard people saying they do not want to hire so & so because of her religion.
This nation now allows all to practice their sexuality. Yet, I still hear homophobic jokes or see people wince when they meet someone of a sexuality different from theirs.
Any person who does not respect the beliefs of others cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
No, by this I do not mean going to the DJ party organized by your ‘society fun club’. It means participating in events organized to make your city a better place. It could be a cleanliness drive, a plantation drive, a teaching drive, etc.
This is something I am guilty of not doing, thanks to my introversion. But, hopefully, I will get up, get out & contribute positively.
Any person who does not participate in her/ his community events cannot call herself/ himself patriotic. For this one point, I do not call myself patriotic.
Aah! Do not get me started on this. But now that I have, I may as well rant.
Demonetisation may have had its pros and cons. The biggest reason that I stand by the demonetisation exercise is because I saw tax evading folks running helter-skelter to come to terms with the new reality. These were people who wore brands and yet, cut corners when it came to taxes! It made my taxpaying middleclass blood boil. So, when DeMo struck, you could have seen me dancing!
Any person who evades tax cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
I could have put this under Point 4 but it needs to be listed down separately. Not just listed down, it probably needs to be shouted at the top of our lungs, from our rooftops. The number of people who do not get this utterly simple concept is too damn high!
This is one of the biggest factors that made me question the literacy of people. A person may be literate and yet, uneducated. Those who litter fall under the uneducated category for me. I do not have a count anymore of the times I have had to tell people not to litter or to remind them to pick something up & put in a dustbin.
The amazing part is that Indians are fastidious about cleanliness. All houses are swept and cleaned daily. All Indians bathe daily. But, when it comes to public spaces, the cleanliness concept goes for a toss. For ages, we have blamed governments for not keeping our cities/ towns clean. But, have we ever questioned our own actions?
Any person who dirties their surroundings cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
Indians are funny! We love poking our noses in others’ businesses, always having advice ready for them. Yet, when the time comes to take a stand and speak up, we turn a blind eye calling it ‘none of my business’. Be it an accident on the road, or a known case of domestic violence – we find it convenient to look the other way. But we are more than thrilled to advise a couple/ woman to start a family. Skewed priorities much!
Any person who does not speak up when the need arises cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
Not just beliefs. Respect everyone and everything around you. You may have a difference of opinion with xyz, but that does not mean you go around shaming/ spreading rumours.
Over the last few years, I have realised that most of the problems plaguing mankind stem from a lack of respect. We hoard because we have lost respect for hard-earned money. We troll because we have lost respect for feelings. We use single use plastic and litter because we have lost respect for the environment.
Any person who does not respect cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
It does not matter who built it – the Cholas or the Mughals or the British. It is part of our heritage now. We must preserve it. We must value it. Else, all we will be left with are the ugly glass buildings.
I have seen unruly children jumping over tombs at monuments in Delhi. I have heard ignorant people questioning – ‘is khandahar me dekhne ka kya hai?’ (what’s there to see in these ruins?).
If we do not understand where we came from, we will not understand where to go.
Any person who does not value her/ his heritage cannot call herself/ himself patriotic.
10/ 11 is not a bad score you would say. But it is still not a perfect score on the patriotism scale. The next time I profess my undying love for India, I will also remind myself of this checklist and where I stand on it.
So, do you call yourself patriotic?
First published at author’s blog
Image via Pixabay
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