A lot of debate has been going around since a while on the term ‘nationalism’. Today, it is quite cool for people to sit behind the keyboard and question and criticize almost everything, specially when it comes to the nation. And so, a lot of questions are raised against those who defend their country and a lot of criticism is forced upon those who talk about ‘nationalism’. There is a huge class of people who believes that nationalism is for the less educated or for the immature. This piece is specially dedicated to those fellows who believe that nationalism and talking about nationalism is old school and has no relevance in today’s world.
While supporting their nation is not binding upon any individual, one must realize that the country and the people are largely interdependent on each other. The better your country becomes, the better you can be. The more you contribute towards the nation, the better the country becomes. It is as good as keeping in mind that you are responsible for keeping your house clean from mess and your house helps you build an image for yourself. Cursing your own house and taking shelter in it can never keep you happy. Having said this, there are a lot of other arguments which the ‘cool youngsters’ put in and let’s see how relevant they are.
‘I had no choice to be born on this side of the border, so I am not bound to respect this soil’.
These are the words which people put up today. Yes, it was not your choice to be born as an Indian. If given a such a choice, entire world’s population would have concentrated somewhere in Europe or the USA. But at the same time, if it is not your choice to stay here, you can definitely give up all the facilities and look for a better place to stay in, right?. The country gives you the chance to go abroad, doesn’t it? And even if you can’t, there is no reason why should spill venom in your own house no matter how much you hate it.
Secondly, going by this logic, people will start questioning the fact that they did not have a choice to be born to a certain set of parents, or in a certain family. So if you are born to poor parents who couldn’t do much to give you a good childhood, would you curse them for not having a choice to be born in a better family? And would you consider it morally correct in the name of dissent and freedom to speech?
Yes, you didn’t have a choice to be born here, but neither did this country have a choice to have you, and yet it is treating you just like it treats any one of us.
‘What has my country done for me?’
This is the most common question which most of us ask ourselves. Yes, our country might have not given us all the comfort that some other country could have. But, whom shall we blame for this? A country becomes what its people want it to become. Go deeper and think broader. A country cannot develop automatically, it is we who need to take steps and make it a better one to live in. Asking yourself what your country has done for you is as good as running away from your responsibilities. Only if you have that love and respect for your nation, you can help it mold into a better one. That is what nationalism is about – keeping the progress of your country in mind.
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Why is it important to show respect for my country when I respect it from within?
A lot of debates were taking place when Supreme Court made in mandatory for the citizens to stand up for the National Anthem in the cinema halls. A big class of thinkers felt that it was wrong to impose such a thing over the people. Many believed that it was a violation of their rights. But, let’s get this simple. Is asking to stand for a minute too much to ask for? There is a quote saying that ‘actions speak louder than words’. If you really respect your nation, why not show it? Standing up during the national anthem doesn’t make you a patriot and not standing doesn’t make you an anti-national either, but we all are expected to behave in a certain manner at times. You cannot go around using your cellphones while someone is speaking to you, because it shows a sign of disrespect even though you might respect them from within. You cannot say you love someone and take no actions to show them that love. There are gestures you show as a mark of respect at various points of time, so why is it so wrong to expect you to show some respect towards your nation, towards The National Flag and The National Anthem?
‘I am a good citizen and follow my responsibilities, but others don’t, so why should I love my country?
If you believe that you are doing something for your country, that’s great. But questioning what others are doing for it is not. Remember the fact that there is always someone who can question your contribution towards the nation. People dedicate their entire lives for the country and do much more than you can even dream of. It all depends on whom you compare yourself with.
If our freedom fighters would have thought on similar lines and had they not taken the extra efforts to get India free, we would have still been serving the British Empire. It is very easy for us to enjoy this freedom, but people have paid a heavy cost for it, with their happiness, with their tears, with their youth, with their pain, with their sweat, with their blood and with their lives. If they did not have this feeling of nationalism in them, we would have been living miserable lives.
And again, ask yourself, would you not take care of your parents without even thinking about the contribution made by your siblings? Does that mean you would desert your parents if your siblings deserted them as well?
‘I am a global citizen. The country is a part of this globe.’
We all want to see the world heading towards international peace and we all want to become global citizens. But practically speaking, with so much racism and casteism prevailing in the world, this concept is impossible as of today. Moreover, with the threat of terrorism and dominance of few countries, the concept would become a nightmare. And most importantly, one who cannot be loyal to his own country, how can he be loyal to the world on the whole?
Nationalism is more than loving and respecting your country. It is about growing with it and making it grow. No matter who you are, outside India, you will be known as an Indian and behaved with likewise. If you don’t love this country and want to separate from it, you are free to move out, but there is no reason why you should spread venom and hatred against it. And if we don’t respect India, if we don’t respect ourselves and if we don’t respect our own identity, why should we even expect others do so?