On the 16th day of May month of the year 2014 there was political change in my country. Though everyone expected that there would be an ideological change as well, I personally felt if there is an ideological change then my country would only be pulled many years back. Saffronisation, the cow slaughter issue, imposing of uniform civil code, moral policing by right-wing activists and so on would only hinder the growth of my country.
Yes, as an individual who wish to see the country move ahead of the other developed and developing countries it is appropriate to oppose these ideological changes. Having such views according to some is “patriotism” Amazingly there are some who oppose the ideological imposing in a different way and call themselves “Nationalist”.
Now I am really confused if I am a Patriot or a Nationalist???
My confusion in this issue does not cloud my thinking process to call those who raise the slogan like “Bharat ki barbadi tak jang rahegi jang rahegi” and those who bad-mouth the Indian Armed Force as traitors. Astonishingly by calling them traitors I become intolerant.
If I express my displeasure on Pakistan flag being hoisted in Kashmir, Kerala or West Bengal, I am termed Bhakt.
If I credit Bhakti Movement as the foundation for Indian Freedom Struggle, I am accused of projecting Hindutva, I would be termed Hindu Fundamentalist.
If I quote a verse from a Hindu scriptures to give clarification on the prevailing affairs, I am considered Manuvadi and automatically I am Anti-Dalit.
In other words I am not a Nationalist.
If prerequisite qualities are necessary to be to be a Nationalist it is not my cup of coffee.
Let us not get confused with patriotism here. “Saare Jahan Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara” is the patriotic zeal in us but now we need another slogan which does not limit us, the slogan should be “Sarve jana sukhino bhavanthu.”
We Indians need to shed the ideals of nationalism, embrace an ideology based purely on morality, re-affirm our faith in the diversity of our great land and allow the ideology of non-violent protests. After all, that is how we got Independence. There was no category as Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian while we fought the British, we stood united. The British while leaving this country cunningly infused the divide policy and we adopted it and ironically we are using it even today. Will not the nations sharing border with us take advantage of our infighting???
I remember here an incidence in Mahabharata when Duryodhana was held captive by Chitraratha, a Gandharva King. Yudhisthira commanded Arjuna and Bhima to fight with the Gandharvas and rescue Duryodhana. When Yudhisthira was questioned about his decision to help his arch rival the Kaurava prince, he said:
Paraih paribhave prapte vayam panchotaram shatam,
Paraspara virodhetu vayam panchaiva, te shatam!
Meaning: In a conflict with outsiders, we are 105. In the dispute between ourselves, we are 5 and they are 100.
We need patriots who think in that order. Thus we can work to better the morals of our citizens and in the process, create a better World, not just a Great Nation. We need patriots who can, without fear, ask the Indian state any question they wish. We need patriots who feel proud when the state does good, feel ashamed when the state does bad and feel angry when the state oppresses. Yet when it comes to the dignity of the state, we need stand united and fight the external menace.
We need patriots whose driving principles are strong morals that never get swayed by race, religion, caste and nationality. We don’t need nationalists and hence, I proudly declare myself a Patriot not a Nationalist.