15 August, 2008

What I-Day means to me

Sure, another Independence Day post. There are probably thousands on the net today. Those who know me well will know that I am not a particularly patriotic person, in the sense that I won't go beyond a certain length "for the country", atleast not without reasoning on it and trying to think of the bigger picture.

But heck, I do feel for India, instinctively. India is important to me. When bombs kill people in Bangalore and Gujarat, it affects me more than bombings in London. When Bindra became the first Indian in 108 years to win an individual gold at the Olympics, I celebrated, even though I know that, say, Russia's medal tally in one Olympics is more than India's since 1900. When people all around me are joyous about today being I-Day, I too feel a bit of pride when a volunteer (at a railway station) pins a miniature Indian Flag to my shirt.

So, now, I'll try to reason about it.

OK, why am I not 'patriotic' as most people mean it? Let me see... Firstly, because I don't like to go with the "mob" feeling. (Ever since I read about the mob mentality in a school essay.) Not a very good reason, you say, but remember that nations can make war sorely because they can stir up this feeling of patriotism in their citizens to get them to approve it. Secondly, sure, I am born in India, but does that mean I should claim that India is the greatest nation on Earth, without ever having been to the other nations? Thirdly, sure, India has a great culture, and has been fortunate enough to be the land where many great men have walked. But what part do I have in that? Why should I feel proud of my country rather than just fortunate to be born here? Why should I not feel as strongly about Russell as about Gandhi?

So much for libertarianism. I know what you're thinking. I just don't get the point. But that's a response I always get, and believe me, since I do not get the point, I won't get it even if you point out to me how naive I am in not getting it, unless you point the point out to me. (Weird, but grammatically correct, sentence. I'm proud of it. :D)

Well, why should I feel patriotic? Patriotism is defined as "love for one's country". If a country has to be stable, it's people should feel united, and love it. Even if it's irrational, and wrong to do so. But I believe there are better reasons to love your country that it's history, it's religion, or it's supposed greatness. One of the reasons is simply that you live there. You know it and it's people. It is our window to the world, to knowledge, to our species. It's your chance to do something right, to stand up for truth, to improve the world, and to serve humanity. Every good nation is a platform for us to improve each other. It's possible to love the world even if your express it locally.

So, in conclusion, I love India. It allows me to learn, to critisice, to discuss, and to grow. I celebrate today because I love the world.


  1. Ok, dude, you may be patriotic or not, you've got your sensibilities in the muck. "I won't go beyond a certain length for my country". How fucking ungrateful! The country has set up higher institutions of learning, one of which you have entered into, the country spares you from high oil prices, subsidises, education, rail travel, and your food. Runs on paltry 2pc of Income Tax collections to develop indigenous technology to defend its 'freedom' so that you can blog on this website. So, show some patriotism. It's not bad. There is a difference between jingoistic nationalism and patriotism. I'd die for the country if I have to, and you know it.

  2. Hmm. I'm not patriotic- at all. Perhaps even less than Anonick is. Why? I really don't know.

    Nice post.

  3. Raj, isn't a "country", a set of borders with people and a system of government, and many ideas and ways of doing things?
    I'm American, and we, as a country do many good things and many bad things. By good and bad, I mean we help many people and hurt people by our actions.
    I'm an American, because I was born here, as you were born in India.
    I'm very proud of some things we've done as a country, and very ashamed of other things.
    I guess that's all I have to say.

  4. I think as long as you have loyalty to your country it doesn't matter how you choose to show it so long as it's not destructive.
    Besides "patriotic" is just a label that means nothing if there's no conviction, action or feeling behind it.