Skewed Nationalism: Who is a patriot?

Aditi Chatterjee

Aditi Doctoral Student in the School of International Studies, JNU. A Woman, a researcher and a patriot.

“Vande Mataram”
“Bharat Maata Ki Jai”

I hope now that I have established myself as a nationalist my piece can be read by everyone including my nationalist friends as I could possibly (or intentionally) not hurt any national sentiments after such open display of my nationalist fervour. I can definitely run amok in the streets of the Capital defying the orders of the apex court and beating students, professors, media and anyone who “looks or dresses up like a JNU student or a left sympathiser.” That off course cannot be termed as sedition, because how can blatantly defying the orders of the Supreme Court and provoking a group of people to resort to violence in the premises of a lower court be a seditious act. That can be termed as a mere scuffle which can be investigated upon when the police deems it fit to be. However, when a group of students resort to sloganeering within their own University premises they can be termed as terrorists and charged with sedition as they definitely pose more threat to the nation than a bunch of people who are violently abusing and thrashing students, professors and media personnel inside the court premises.

I have been brought up in a way to love my country unconditionally, and when I see a patriotic movie or a light and sound show in the Port Blair Central Jail, tears roll down in pride for freedom fighters who have fought for our freedom. I celebrate when India wins a match against Pakistan and sing the national anthem with immense passion on every Independence and Republic Day. Being said that I also empathise with my fellow Indians in Kashmir, in Manipur, in Nagaland. It is easy to take pride in statements like “Doodh mangoge to kheer denge, Kashmir mangoge to cheed denge” without having an iota of knowledge as to what the real situation of Kashmir is, how our fellow Indians in Kashmir have bled for decades in continuous battles between two nations. Talk to your friends from the North-East and ask them what they have been through in their states and how in the name of state protection they have been subjugated to the tyrannical activities of the AFSPA. Also ignorantly terming them as ‘cheenkis’ (implying that they are Chinese) is no less an unpatriotic act my friends. So when Kanhaiyya Kumar speaks for them as a well aware and well read student’s representative, then don’t term him as anti-national because he has more knowledge of the subject than you do. Just because he is aware of the plight of his fellow Indians and expresses them publicly does not make him a terrorist.

When you make fleeting statements about your patriotism, I urge you my friends that discuss, engage, read, understand and feel the pain of your fellow citizens. Do not trust what the politicians (of all parties) want you to believe; they have been fooling us since decades and playing with our patriotic emotions. When they are unable to control the rates of inflation, create jobs for us, lessen the life threatening levels of pollution (which might kill us sooner than any impending terror attack) or reduce poverty, they resort to our patriotic nerve. They are well aware that Indians would not tolerate anti-national slogans even if the economy and conditions of survival in India are beyond tolerance level.

Lastly I would like to tell the government (and not just this government) that do not tell us whether we are patriots or anti-nationals. I and my fellow citizens love our nation enough to have tolerated your nuisance for decades. Our patriotism is not bound for your certificates on how to be a nation lover. Our patriotism is one where we discuss and debate about every national and international event. Had we resorted to showcase our anger on the way we have been treated for decades the Indian nation would have disintegrated by now. It is because we love our country that we have tolerated the way you have governed us and so the concept of India as a democratic nation is still vibrant, so please don’t make a mockery of our democracy through your false patriotism. We as teachers/professors/scientists/parents teach thousands of children/students across the country and educate them, as police/army/navy/air-force/border protection officials fight for our nation and protect our citizens, as doctors/nurses/fire-fighters save scores of lives daily, as sweepers/maids keep our streets and houses clean, as construction workers/ farmers build our nation, as actors/cricketers provide endless entertainment, as economists/ bankers/engineers/business professionals run the economy, as lawyers/bureaucrats/clerks help in governance and law making; as students/ media professionals discuss, debate and enlighten millions; and thus prove our patriotism to our nation every single day without chanting nationalistic slogans. So don’t tell us that we are anti-nationals because your view of nationalism might be skewed, but we love our country enough to tolerate and accommodate every voice of dissent.

P.S.: This article does not intend to hurt any national sentiments or incite any sort of violence. I hope expressing my views on patriotism is not an act of sedition.

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