The Falsehood of Patriotism… and the bulls**t about diversity

As tempting as it was to post yesterday, in respect for all the jingoistic good cheer yesterday, I desisted.  What is there to celebrate, pray, tell me? I found all this Happy Independence Day wishes going around jarring.

We Indians (and our erstwhile brothers in neighbouring countries) are big on rhetoric and gestures. We like the tamasha of public displays of emotions. Everything is larger than life. Births, deaths, weddings, honour and patriotism.

We are corrupt to the very core, and most of us can’t get by even a day without being party to a crime, big or small. Jumping Qs, paying bribes, clamouring for that which we haven’t earned, finding legal loopholes that will make our lives easier… Yes, let’s blame the system, and say that there is no other way to be. But there are people who have made sacrifices, to avoid compromising their principles. People like Anna Hazare, on whose integrity every media-savvy activist wants a piggy-back ride to fame.

I am not in total support of Anna Hazare’s current campaign—the civil society should not be ‘in’ power, it should be empowered—but I have nothing but respect for a gentleman of his community service record.

But many of those who speak in support of him are only indulging in rhetoric. Look at the people who support him. Analyse how they lead their lives. Pay attention to their prejudices and partisan views. I am not talking about public figures, I am talking about your family and friends…

Don’t equate your need for drama, desire for limelight and hunger for public applause with patriotism.

What are you patriotic about? The language YOU speak? The food YOU eat? The colour of YOUR skin? The culture of YOUR state? The habits of YOUR community?

What exactly are YOU ‘Proud’ of, when you say you are PROUD to be an Indian?

Is it diversity? Really? Yet we want one community to imbibe the culture of the other—to ‘fit into’ our larger plans. We want one language to be given precedence over the other.  

We were enraged by the US diplomat’s dark and dirty comment, but isn’t that how most of us see the ‘dark’? Diversity? Ha!

We call our countrymen from the North East ‘chinks’ and other derogatory terms (explains why Irom Sharmila’s cause is not a ‘national’ cause), because they don’t look ‘Indian’—how exactly are we supposed to look. Light skin, straight black hair? Dark skin liberally powdered, curly hair brutally straightened? Big kajal-rimmed eyes? What diversity, really?

And don’t get me started on the great ‘Tambrahm’ pride that’s all the rage now, thanks to humour blogs and some really smart marketing. How much more casteist can we get—even if it’s clothed in self-evasive humour that talks about the intellectual superiority of a group of people. Similar pride marches are conducted by those from West Bengal and Kerala too!

Intelligence is not genetic. It is about opportunities and hardwork, and comes in many forms and manifests itself in different ways.

So, we are celebrating our independence from the British, is it? Yet we will prostrate before the white man even today. And we show the scantest respect to those who got us that freedom, spewing pop opinion on leaders about whom we know little or nothing!

Am I patriotic? I don’t know… when our soldiers are being killed at the borders I feel morally troubled to buy produce from our neighbours. But that is rhetoric too right? A statement for the sake of it.

I support our sporting teams. Is that patriotism?

And when people ask me where home is, I don’t think twice before saying India, and then Madras. Is that patriotism?

I do get goosebumps when I hear our National Anthem. So?

I really am wary of attributing the term Patriotism to these emotions… it’s just a preference, a  habit.

Every bloodbath, every war, every strife around the world boils down to Patriotism, a highly overrated concept. What we lack, and desperately need is Humanism…


Ps: Quite poetic that I brought my Independence day non-celebration to a close by watching Aarakshan. Do watch it, a post on that coming up soon. And no, I am not pro-reservation in its current form.
Ps2: Yes, I am often called depressingly negative. Though I don’t see myself that way even for a minute.

9 thoughts on “The Falsehood of Patriotism… and the bulls**t about diversity

  1. Navina Anand says:

    Agreed. Guilty on many counts. Yes it sucks. You are right. We are a backward, uncivilised , hypocratic ,selfish crowd of diverse people thrown in together – just too diverse,selfish and illiterate to pull of anything sensible together.I try to pretend that I am doing something good by involving myself in some charitable causes and donating some money here and there. And about the ‘tambrahm’ marketing… was not aware of it…

  2. Maya says:

    Didn’t know about the ‘tambrahm’ marketing, either! But where was the jingoistic good cheer? All I saw were status laments and critical posts and ascerbic videos.

    • UmmON says:

      Maya, I should move to your circle of friends. My friends were all annoyingly upbeat with Proud to be Indian messages! And on the other, comment above…

      • Maya says:

        Have read some blogs, yes! But then have also read ‘Dalit literature’. So didn’t see it as ‘tambrahm’ marketing, just as a counter or making the best of a bad situation 🙂

        Well, most of my friends who cared to post are young professionals, who are pretty sceptical of the future of the nation! The older ones simply put up a message acknowledging the day and forgot it!

  3. ammani says:

    I wrote a long comment and then deleted it as it didn’t feel coherent. Among them,
    1. When people say ‘proud’, they simply mean ‘feeling good’.
    2. Most people would quite happily get out of India but ask them and they won’t admit to it. I wouldn’t have either.
    3. I have a similar reaction to you when I hear the national anthem
    4. Recently a white British friend said that when she watched the royal wedding she felt proud about being British. You could dissect that statement threadbare and find little of reason in it. Or simply accept that she felt good about being associated with the country of her birth at that point.
    5. I’m immensely fond of the place I live now. I feel I’m able to be much more of myself here than anywhere else.
    6. I could be proud of living here. But we can only feel proud about the place where we were born, right? I’m confused.
    Okay, that’s it. I think.

  4. Shyam says:

    What Ammani said. Actually the Indian National Anthem brings tears to my eyes when I listen to it or sing it, even though I think that’s just cheap sentiment coming to the fore because I’ve got a British passport now, and I’m not an Indian citizen any more. Perhaps I just like the tune of “Jana Gana Mana” better than “God Save The Queen”.

    And I’d call you a realist, not a pessimist… I say that because I’m like that too.

  5. Jon says:

    The notion that people have some inbred reason to be proud of their heritage comes from our ambition to matter in the world and to make excuses. If you notice…cultures that have a history of little accomplishment or successes are often the ones that push this pride thing the most. Those that “do” let their work speak for them, those that “can’t” or “don’t” are the ones doing all the bragging

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