Why are we so anti-national?
“It is so stupid! You guys are so anti-national. How can you be so anti-national?” This statement goes about the country in the times we live currently. India is and has been in a grip of a wave of nationalism and everything that you and I say can be tied to nationalism.
I was having some bhature chhole (a north Indian snack) and the guy handed me the plate and said, ‘Sir, ye plate desh ke naam (Sir, this plate is in the name of the nation!” I didn’t know whether to eat or just salute the bhatura.
Now, you see, it is extremely difficult to question anything that is done in the name of the country. The moment you question it, the nationalists label you anti-national and you are suddenly left wondering where you went wrong.
When did we turn so nationalistic as a country? Is nationalism a good thing? As per dictionary.com, one of the definitions of nationalism is excessive patriotism. Are we excessively patriotic? How much patriotism is enough patriotism?
In the last 4 something years, India has seen a huge wave of nationalism take over the country. Many laws have been imposed on the general public, where each of us is required to show our patriotism at different points of our existence in India.
One of them is when you go to watch a movie in India. Most cinema halls play the national anthem before the movie begins and no matter what you are doing, (you could be holding popcorn, or coke, or trying to talk to your girlfriend) you are supposed to stand and pay obeisance to the national anthem. Obviously, since it is our national anthem, we would stand and pay respect. However, it’s kind of ironic to see people standing in their shorts and holding things in their hands, when the national anthem plays. Somehow the respect gets filtered away, no?
Everything is dipped into nationalism and served to you. News, for example. The government does something and everything it does, since it is being done for the country, you can’t question it, and since there is a risk you would be labelled anti-national. That way the government ensures that you don’t question any of its actions, and thereby, the entire meaning of democracy is challenged.
The Vande Bharat express develops a snag and if you question it, you could be labelled as anti-national because that amounts to insulting the engineers of the country who are a national asset. Why did it develop a snag, becomes an irrelevant question.
The Pulwama attack happened and so many of our soldiers lost their lives because they were traveling together in buses and had no protection of any sort. They were an easy target. A few defense experts have questions why they could not be ferried by air, and the answers have pointed to the source of questions being anti-national. No convincing answers have emerged yet.
I was standing by the corner chai shop this morning and two guys were having a conversation. One said that we should ban anything Pakistani and the other guy agreed. He said he will get the channel Zindagi banned from his cable network and tell his daughter to stop dancing on Afreen Afreen. After all, we should apply nationalism retrospectively. I agree!
A few Kashmiri students have been threatened and have had to leave for Kashmir after they were attacked by certain groups. Such groups are finding a lot of support from the society at large but not many people are asking, ‘how can we expect love from them in return for hate?!’ After all, every Kashmiri is not a militant. My neighbor Rajinder is an aggressive man. He told our fellow neighbor Rajeeve shout something to the effect of PKMKB. Rajeeve has recently come back from America after living there for 10 years and had no clue what Rajinder was talking about. So, he just said PKMKB because Rajinder was at his throat. Google it, it’s out there, PKMKB, I mean.
It’s getting weird out here. One gawks at the the kind of patriotism we are indulging in, and it’s only making fellow Indians scared of each other. Patriotism is supposed to make us stronger internally, no? A Facebook friend of mine posted this yesterday, in the context of what’s happening, and I loved it…
अब नहीं कोई बात ख़तरे की ,
अब सभी को सभी से ख़तरा है।
I am sitting by a café writing this and there’s a bunch of students staging a walk asking for revenge and war for the attack on our soldiers. We must attack the forces who are responsible for the attack but I fear for their demand for a war. The army and the defense forces know the cost of war, way more than we do, as civilians and I am sure they would concur that war is the last resort.
We don’t want to lose our people to terrorists but we don’t want to spew hatred against each other, in the name of nationalism. All nationalism isn’t equal. We are one country- Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains-all of us, are one country.
Let our nationalism make us stronger, not weaker.
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