Do We Know What Patriotism Really Stands For?

More often than not, from over past half-decade, hyper-nationalism is not only being confused as but is also being treated and more importantly celebrated as patriotism.

The moment our patriotism is reduced to hatred for a particular country, it starts taking shape of hyper-nationalism. The hyper-nationalism is not only a threat to the very base of the patriotism but most likely, it is a big threat to our country’s diversity.

The two concepts are not only different but are exactly opposite to each other. While patriotism is based on inclusiveness and the love for the last person in the society, the currently prevalent and in many ways dominant hyper-nationalism has hatred as its founding stone. If the last person in the society sleeps hungry, if he does not get what the Constitution guarantees; only then is the time to awake our patriotism.

Well, everything in the universe is based on a cause and effect relationship, so is this idea of hyper-nationalism and its easy acceptance. It’s an alarming sign when our patriotism reduces to hating a particular country.

The only cause, one can understand, after a thorough study of this big threat is our lack of knowledge and education is the only way forward. Well, those who believe that education is merely confined to degrees and qualifications, need to study a bit more. Education isn’t just about holding a degree or passing an examination, rather it is far wider than the human imagination can ever envision. Education is the ability to identify the right and wrong and believe me, that is the most difficult thing to do.

Well, moving to the effect part, this is something that must shake us all from inside. We are all heading to a direction that leads to a one-way street. It is going to have an impact that can never be reversed. It is going to create such a divide in the society which could never be filled ever again. And we all will be held equally responsible for it whether or not we gave consent for the same at the first place.

While reading an article in a leading daily, I came across a profusely shocking statement by Rabindra Nath Tagore – the writer of India’s national anthem. In 1908, he wrote a letter to his friend Anandmohan Bose – one of India’s political leaders during colonial rule – saying, “…I will never allow patriotism to triumph over humanity as long as I live”.

For days, I kept wondering why a man who gave us our national anthem, which is still proudly sung by one and all, would go on to make such a bold statement.

After reading a few well-learned and renowned authors from across the world, I got to understand that the excess of anything is bad, and the very same concept applies to patriotism as well. Excess of patriotism leads to the roads of hyper-nationalism.

We are living in a time when being neutral towards a particular country is not only being considered bad or unacceptable but has also become a sign of being anti-national and at times even terrorist supporters. The pace for the acceptability of this theory varies from country to country and even from region to region. The rapid acceptance of this dangerous theory in our country is a result of nescience and the dominance of religion in individual lives. Religion was originally supposed to narrow the gaps between humans but it ended up doing exactly the opposite, maybe because religion is an old game that few political parties have mastered to play.

The problem with us Indians is that we are extremely emotional. We are just like a gas stove which can be lit merely through a spark and that spark in our case happens to be religion – something we are known to be profusely obsessed with. We are a country where emotions prevail over logic and perceptions outweigh facts.

The irony here is, people not having an iota of understanding about their own religion are the ones using it wisely to create a divide within the society to serve their purpose.

Religion, in my understanding, was always like a manual that comes with any new electronic product. It’s a manual that none of us even bothered to look at but contains every necessary detail to operate that product. Though in case of a simple product, it isn’t of much importance, but in some complex products, it is the very base to determine every single operation and commands we initially perform on it and eventually make it a part of our routine. Therefore, correct initial knowledge is extremely important. Further, religious gurus are like those technicians who are sent by the company for the initial demo just to make us familiar with the product and not to dictate us with every single commands and operation.

Unfortunately, neither of the two did justice to their role.

It is not only saddening but also worrying, that we have collectively reduced such a beautiful concept like patriotism merely to hatred and at most the love for the human-drawn boundaries and have not even bothered to understand its true essence.

The people responsible for spreading this hatred are not as guilty as those who have embraced it and most importantly, neither of the two has an iota of understanding about the diplomatic relationships.

Patriotism is not about this new theory that most of us have happily embraced and neither is it about the loyalty to an elected government; rather it is about love, inclusiveness, care, concern, unity in diversity, accepting the facts irrespective of whether we like it or not. And most importantly patriotism is about questioning those in power to keep a proper check on their work, especially at a time when the opposition of the country is dealing with an existential crisis.

We must all stand for any voice that is being muzzled irrespective of whether or not we agree with it. One might not agree with what the other has got to say, but the constitution defends until the official death of the democracy his right to say it. The very essence of the democracy lies within the dissenting voice. Disagreement, perhaps, is the best sort of agreement, maybe because it is at least real. An important example worth remembering is that the Jamaican Supreme Court quoted Justice Chandrachud’s dissent in 3:1 Aadhar verdict to strike down Aadhar-like program.

We must all accept the diverse country that we are and no single view can be or in fact should be imposed on all.

Syed Kamran Husain is in CA finals and is about to complete three years of compulsory internship at a Grade 1 CA firm having specialisation in data analysis and forensic audits. He is passionate about Journalism. 

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty