Are you proud to call yourself Indian? The question is easy but the answer can be difficult. We are a generation of curious, thinking minds. Indians do not fall behind in any field today; we’re up to date with technology and lifestyle, being one of the largest consumer markets, the largest democracy and the largest young population. There’s so much to be proud of — still, when somebody asks you about your nationality, do you feel proud and patriotic?
I received a WhatsApp message from a friend the other day:
“Q: How do Indians describe the most beautiful places in the country? Answer: Wahan jao, lagega hi nahi ki India mein ho!”
We bet you’ve heard this too. When an Indian city is too beautiful, people say ‘it feels like you’re not in India at all’. Such a shame — but it’s true. As India celebrates her 70th Independence Day today, let’s rethink the meaning of patriotism and understand what you and I can do to build a better nation.
There was a time when getting a job abroad was considered a major achievement, rather, a status symbol. In the matrimony section of a newspaper, parents often scrutinise the NRI section, looking for a quick pass to get that green card because ‘life in a foreign nation is much better, duh!’. Why? Because India is less developed, because India has smaller pay packages, or because India is unclean?
We’ve all felt it at some point or the other, that awkward feeling of belonging to a nation that, despite it’s wonderful achievements, is still associated with untidy streets, illiteracy and poverty. And who is to blame? Even educated people continue to litter the surroundings and break the rules. If you’ve travelled abroad, you might have noticed that some of these habits are unfortunately tagged as ‘Indianness’.
But let’s not forget, every country has its problems; it’s up to the youth of the nation to steer the ship in the right direction. Considering the world’s current political scenario, a third world war is not a distant reality. Remember the patriotism displayed by brave hearts like Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose? Do we have any such person amongst us if need be? You’d probably prefer a martyr in the house next door than your own. Whatever’s happened to patriotism in our generation?
Patriotism is not about putting up a photo of the Indian Tricolour on your phone, or cheering for team India at popular games. Standing up for the national anthem in a movie theatre is certainly not patriotism! It’s about doing whatever you can in your capacity to build a better nation.
As Prachi Gupta, a 26 year old advertising professional puts it, “Don’t say: what can I do alone? Be the beginner, the beginner of change. India definitely makes me proud, proud of the rich culture and traditions, proud of the perfect amalgamation of castes and creeds and even seasons. However, we need to become responsible citizens first.” To begin with, here are 3 things you can do to build a nation you’re proud of.
Patriotism vs Nationalism
To be a real patriot you first have to understand what patriotism isn’t! There’s a bunch of people out there who’d beat you up if you ‘offended’ cows or ate beef. This is nationalism, often also called pseudo-patriotism. Stopping someone from littering the streets even though that’s not your job, is patriotism. Picking and beating young couples, calling it their ‘westernisation’, is nationalism, whereas opening up to new ideas, encouraging progressive thinking and changing with the change in times, is patriotism. That passionate feeling towards your nation and everything it stands for, with a willingness to bring about change where required — that is true patriotism.
Ankit Chaudhary, an aspiring pilot, says, “I have often travelled abroad and have many relatives living abroad. All they discuss about India is it’s rich culture and travel spots. The only thing I never liked them saying is how Indians litter and don’t work hard to get rid of poverty. I’m not ashamed being called as an Indian. But I also want to give my best in educating people about working towards cleanliness and better living. I love my country and like any lover, I must show my love too (not just talk about it).”
And that’s the whole point of patriotism — if you want to see a positive change in the nation, don’t just talk about it. In the famous words of Gandhi, you must be the change you want to see.
Guarding the nation is not just the duty of the soldiers at the border. We, the millennials, also need to guard it from regressive thinking, blind faith, inequality and corruption and feel true pride and honour in being Indian.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar