It’s the 77th Independence Day, and the country is in patriotic mode. India celebrates its Independence Day with infinite zeal and passion. People throughout the nation came out on the streets to take part in the celebrations. People love to carry their national flag with pride on this day and sing the national anthem or any other patriotic song. But this population is typically declining. Most of the people rest on their beds and watch PM Modi host Flat on Red Fort. Some listen to his speeches, and most people watch TV news or other bulletins.
On the other hand, vendors are selling the Indian National Flag on the road, and merchandisers are selling tricolor outfits and sarees. Everyone is busy encasing this event, businessmen want to make business, and event managers and organizers are busy for their own commercial purposes. Most people are busy displaying their patriotism on social media. Most people are naturally patriotic, but they are so busy with day-to-day chores and problems that they don’t pretend to be patriotic.
On Independence Day, when there is an atmosphere of patriotism, it automatically oozes out of them. It’s not only on August 15 or January 26, but whenever a country faces international pressure, people show patriotism. Still, there is a mad rush for this day, but one large population celebrates this day only as a national holiday or as a long weekend. The patriotic spirit is lost in most people. Our politicians are referring to how India is the next superpower and we can be Vishvaguru in no time. All this happens because of remembrance for a national holiday, not for patriotism.
Patriotism is about protecting the land we live in. Nationalism is about protecting the way we live. Since land is simple, patriotism is a fairly straightforward subject. You raise your arms when someone attacks your land. And you would group with anyone who lives in that land—Muslims, Christians, minorities, Hindus, whomever. This comprehensiveness gives some people a feeling of patriotism, but this brutality can’t be respected on human parameters. Religion is far more complicated than land. Rapes in the name of community pride, killing each other on religious lines, and parading women naked just because one group is against another group? Where is patriotism or nationalism?
People often think of nationalism in more narrow or parochial terms. Sure, it often involves narrow ideas. Not always. If you are protecting freedom of speech or equal rights for women, that is not patriotism, as you are not facing external aggression. You are essentially trying to protect your ethos or culture, as you think a culture with free speech or equality is better than one that doesn’t. Unlike patriotism, which is more like a folk concept, nationalism involves making active choices and judgments. That can quite easily lead to dominance and conflict. Nationalists do fight a lot of battles. However, they also justify that they are protecting their way of life, where massacres, holocausts, or tyranny are not allowed. Patriotism is the individual feeling of a person; nationalism is the political ideology based on the patriotism of the people.
On August 15, we celebrate Independence Day, though we are not independent. The day we say we got freedom, but for us, freedom has no meaning at all. We hardly take time to pick up a flag lying on the road, that’s the value we give! Currency has much more value than our national flag! Isn’t it? Changing DP (display Picture), uploading Instagram and WhatsApp stories, buying a flag, dressing up in a tricolor dress, singing the national anthem, watching patriotic movies, and wishing each other well—does this mean celebrating Independence Day?
77 years of independence and still people feel threatened; people around us are dying due to religious scuffles; look at the north-east and east sides of India; there are increased crimes; there is an overpopulation of migrants; students are committing suicide because of an unplanned and underprivileged education system; people are killing each other on the basis of religion, community, caste, creed, and even food patterns. Crime against women is on the rise. No jobs, no peace—political scenarios are not only unpredictable but complicated for common people. The leader, Lord, keeps quiet on most of the burning issues in the country, and we, the people, hate each other on political lines. In an independent India, we have no freedom or liberty. We never cared about all these, but all of a sudden, patriotism came into us on two special days of the year: January 26 and August 15.
What about the rest of the day? Every day is Independence Day if we utilize and deserve the freedom we received from our great heroes as a gift!
Our freedom fighters have struggled for hundreds of years, and our soldiers are fighting each day to protect us. Freedom is given for free! Perhaps that’s the reason we’re taking it for granted! Celebrating Independence Day is a conscious assertion of nationalism, while not doing so is a negation of the same. Politically speaking, I consider freedom closely related to equality. A free society requires that no group of people be enabled to control the lives of others; free people are thus equal people. If people are unequal, i.e., if some gain more power than others, be it by race, ethnicity, gender, position, or wealth, those with more gain the ability to severely influence others’ lives. Freedom, therefore, is the consequence of equality. Thus, it should be our goal to strive for equality.
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