By Muzzafar Khan Waris
Edited by Namitha Sadanand, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
“Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Rabindranath Tagore said these words because he truly believed in the ideology of “One nation, one life”. The champions of our past freedom struggle did not have to rise on a particular morning with a forced sense of patriotism, they were inherently so. Dylan once said, “The times, they are a changing” and indeed like gospel words, they are coming true.
Come this August on the fifteenth, just like any other year, the average Indian will wake up late in the morning, with a big smile on his face. An observer might mistake this to be the pride and happiness of rising in a free democratic country. But deep down, the reason he is happy is because it’s a holiday. A break from the chaos of office, school and the daily humdrum of life. After a relaxing bath and a hearty family breakfast, he switches on the TV channel while having his coffee. With this starts the ’patriotism’ marathon that will last roughly 10 hours.
These days, our fake nationalist does not restrict his showing-off to family and neighbours; social media is his weapon of choice. From changing Facebook profile pictures to those of the national flag to liking pages of freedom fighters, there is a barrage of pretentious showboating, which is also approved of by similar minded people. The number of likes or comments signifies an ‘achievement’ of sorts, which the fake nationalist believes is nothing short of fighting for our country. Next comes the WhatsApp status and DP updates, such as “Desh mere Desh mere, meri Jaan le tu” to “ Maa Tujhe Salaam”, replicated by hundreds of WhatsApp users.
Now the question is, what’s wrong with such acts? After all, isn’t patriotism something that we’re ‘supposed’ to feel? Indeed, we should; but the problem here, is the restriction of such sentiments to one day, that too on a superficial level. Ideally, working for the betterment of the country should be a never ending process which should rise above any particular date or time.
Being patriotic shouldn’t be a fashion statement, but rather a sense of pride for one’s country. Nowhere is it written that a patriot must be someone who dies in battle; you can be a patriot by doing something as basic as doing your work ethically. Patriotism doesn’t just mean fighting and dying for your country, it means living and serving your nation in every possible way. You can be patriotic by working as a farmer and contributing to the GDP. By contributing to the agrarian economy, they play a huge role in driving the wheels of growth by sustaining 125 crore people; their invaluable effort is in no way smaller than a “Desh Bhakti” lecture by any pretentious degree holder. Working for thousands of hours in a cramped lab to solve challenges in Physics and Mathematics, or for that matter, solving pertinent issues in India can also be a selfless act which portrays a high sense of patriotism and commitment for one’s country. We take pride in the fact that we are better than the western world in terms of respecting and caring for our parents, but we see numerous instances of us becoming just like them when aging relatives are thrown into old homes. The word ‘Motherland’ was derived for a reason; if you, as an individual, do not respect your mother, how can you expect to serve your country and call yourself a patriot?
Unfortunately, pledging your allegiance to your country is becoming more of a showboating trend than truly feeling for it. If only we could feel ‘patriotic’ every single day, the songs and glory on the 15th of August would actually hold some meaning.