Sunday, September 5, 2010

Indians - Nationalists and Patriots

At the dinner table, the other night, I had an interesting discussion with my younger brother about two words, separated only by a thin line. Patriotism and Nationalism. The reason for this discussion is a different story.

Some days ago, a friend shared with me, an article written by Priya Ramani, titled – “I may not be an Indian”. The article created quite a stir on Twitter, as people like Chetan Bhagat also commented on it. She obviously got flamed badly as you can see from the first comment. Some decades ago an Indian printing house published a map of India the way it is seen worldwide – without PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir). His printing press was burnt down. This is nationalism. How many times have you entered a chat room (when they were used) or social networking websites to see Indians and Pakistanis engaged in a war of the words? Nationalism.

So, let’s get back to the dinner table conversation. When I said that nationalism is more or less like extreme patriotism, where you perceive your own country to be greater than all others, he disagreed. He mentioned that such a feeling is almost fascist and that nationalism is a lesser evil. It was then that I realized that the differences between fascism and nationalism are also very few.

It is an uncomfortable thought that we Indians are perhaps the most nationalistic people in the world. We keep repeating one sentence till we die, “India is the best!” How we got to this conclusion is beyond me. What exactly is it that makes us truly the BEST?

We say that Americans and British are racists and yet have divisions of caste and religion in our system. When you fill a government form, you are required to write your caste in it. When you file a Police report, you are required to write your caste and religion in it. So, if I’m a Jain, the cases will be solved faster? Or if I’m a Sikh, my documents will be processed faster? Politicians say stuff like “Hindus and Muslims need to unite” but isn’t that statement oxymoronic itself?

We say that our culture is rich and is the best in the world. Right! Sati was one shot of super-awesomeness wasn’t it? Dowry is definitely a requirement for marriage isn’t it? Child marriages are so mature aren’t they? Just because a bunch of people want to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, some of us really get a kick out of stoning the Archies gallery. Fools who glorify our culture know nothing of it. The most beautiful aspect of the Indian culture used to be that it was flexible and adaptive. Such people are just more nationalist nincompoops.

We say that we are a decent society and yet produce one of the highest numbers of incest cases each year. Why do Chetan Bhagat books sell in India? He sells sex to our general public. I’m surprised why people don’t realize it. Average boy has physical relations with a beautiful girl, it’s his formula. And the people just love it. You might as well read “Letters to Penthouse”.

I know I will be hated for writing this post by almost every Indian who reads it. I don’t blame anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country. I love my country so much that I acknowledge the fact that it isn’t the best. I acknowledge the fact that there is a lot that needs to be changed. I love my country so much that I can proudly say that it isn’t the best country but I love it anyway. Why? I am a patriot, not a nationalist.

The first step towards self improvement is acceptance of flaws. Why are we not accepting ours?


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