I wrote this post last independence day, I guess it makes even more sense to me after a year.
Nationalism “ loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups” describes Webster.
We, do not fit this description.
We, Indians, are very emotional by nature. It is very easy to whip up our emotions. A well written patriotic song, a Bollywood movie where India comes out glorious despite all odds, is guaranteed to bring out tears of pride and joy. These emotions can easily be witnessed on our Independence day, everybody is exalting with Nationalistic pride, which is beautiful and frankly, normal. As they say, ” you can’t be an Indian and not be proud of the fact”. But, I am afraid to say that these feelings are short lived. They come and go with these movies and our National days.
It was 1942, the year of Quit India Movement. My grand father attended a rally lead by Subhash Chandra Bose. He said, in his speech: “Independence of India is written on the walls now, I can see it from here. But, during this struggle, we have learned to learn this indiscipline.We have learned to disobey our government”. These words are true to this day, we have been free for 63 years now and have not been able to discipline ourselves. I am not saying that we all are traitors but, we do not understand the true meaning of patriotism. We often forget to keep our nation above us. Knowingly or unknowingly we often do not think or speak of our country in the manner appropriate. It breaks my heart every time, I hear people say“I am on IST “ when they are late. As frivolous as it may sound, it does underline the fact, that we perceive our indiscipline as an inherit part of our being Indian.
I have often heard Indians talking disapprovingly of India in front of people from other countries. It’s okay to discuss your concerns in a constructive manner but I am not a fan of washing my dirty linen in public, movies like Slumdog Millionaire are there to do that job for us. The point being, do not draw a negative portrait of your country on the minds of people who are solely trusting your opinion of your own country to form theirs. We can learn a little from this story I heard from my father when I was little, I asked him, why is Japan so much more developed than we are? He narrated this incident that a foreigner wrote in his memoir about Japan:
He was traveling on a train in Japan, he was hungry, got down at a couple of stations and found nothing to eat. He murmured out of frustration” and they say Japan is a developed nation!” . A fellow Japanese traveler heard him, he got down the train, ran out of station and came back with a basket of fruits. He said to the foreigner “Please except this as a gift and please do not tell any one that you didn’t find anything to eat in our stations”. The incident speaks for it self.
We need to learn from other prosperous nations, watch their ways and mend ours accordingly. We need to learn Civic sense, a little bit more tolerance and constructive ways to express our disagreements. Gandhiji taught the whole world an entirely new philosophy, a brand new way of life. Unfortunately, we only picked a few things we should have refrained from. Yes, I am talking about strikes. Every now and then I read about organizations on strike resulting in millions of dollars of loss to the government. Even doctors do not refrain from this practice, needless to say the repercussions . I once read about a strike in an Australian shoe factory, the workers were not happy with the management. They decided to go on strike by making just the right shoe till the strike continued. Once their demands were met, they finished the pairs. These little things go a long way to make a nation strong.
We are lucky to be born in this beautiful country, where, love is the essence of life. We are lucky to be citizens of world’s largest democracy. We need to appreciate this fact more and incorporate a little discipline in our everyday lives. This is our time, we can build the India of tomorrow by just going an extra mile. It is not that great a price to pay for the rewards we will reap.
Let every day be Independence Day!