This Independence Day, choose who you are - A 'Patriot' or a 'Nationalist'

  • This Independence Day, choose who you are - A 'Patriot' or a 'Nationalist'

2017 marks 70 years of freedom, 70 years of Independence for a country with a population over 2 billion. In today’s India, you need to be very careful with the words you use and who you’re addressing. With politics and religion being two pillars on which the country is based, democracy seems to have very little space when it comes to spelling things out. Be it the beef ban or women safety, there’s a shift of agenda when one is addressing that particular issue. The shift of agenda could be based on culture or politics and the moment these fragments enter, the essence is bound to change and the country progressing becomes a secondary issue.

I’m sure most of us have updated our Facebook status or used a Snapchat filter to mark August 15 and celebrate it along with the entire nation. But does portraying love for your country on social media twice a year make someone patriotic? It is okay to not blend in with the masses who put up a façade of being patriotic and criticise the country’s shortcomings so that the future is bright and in the pipeline to develop. But there’s a catch, if you don’t support the country you live in or openly criticise the evident shortcomings, you’ll be branded an “anti-national.”

Don’t brand me “anti-national” for pointing out mistakes

No country is perfect and across the world, every country has shortcomings. But if those are not addressed, how can that particular country aim to overcome the problems and hope to develop? India being a country with diverse culture and tradition has numerous problems when it comes to expression as one’s expression could hurt the other’s sentiments and we’ve seen blood spilled over this. The challenge which lies ahead of people who really care about the country is to keep cultural sentiments aside for the country to progress. The person who sacrifices cultural emotions for the country’s betterment can truly be branded a true patriot. If there’s a problem, and I’m addressing it, does it make me the nation’s enemy for pointing that mistake out?

‘Patriotism’ and ‘Nationalism’

If you google ‘Patriotism’, you will find ‘Nationalism’ as its synonym. Well, let’s take a look what ‘Nationalism’ has to say. Even though these two concepts share the same ideals, the end result is quite far from being similar.

Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality,” George Orwell.

Now, the question is, the people who are promoting nationalism in this country, are they doing it for the country or their own personal/political/cultural agenda?

Living in a democracy, we’re entitled to our opinions and have a voice to express what we truly feel. If the voice isn’t in favour of the masses, don’t succumb to the pressure applied by nationalists which brand people who don’t have too much affinity towards their own country as enemies of the nation. No, you’re not the nation’s enemy. Not being patriotic doesn't mean you don't love your country. Most of us are thankful and grateful to be born in a developing India but if we don't keep 'other' agendas aside, the journey from developing to developed will be a long one. 

This Independence Day, just sit back and think about what direction the country is heading. The patriotic way or the nationalist way. In order to progress together, we need to endorse one, common background, that’s India.

Happy Independence Day. 

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