The views expressed in the article, “Chauvinism and patriotism not the same” (March 13), border on naïveté and are influenced by pseudo-liberalism. At the outset, I must say that cheering for a team is certainly not an anti-national act. However, if the tenor indicates a display of allegiance to a particular country, it needs to be seen in a different perspective.
The Meerut incident in which Kashmiri students celebrated Pakistan’s win over India cannot be seen as a mere act of clapping for Pakistan. The students were displaying their sense of alienation from India and their allegiance to Pakistan. No doubt, signs of alienation of Kashmiri Muslims needs to be addressed. However, their display of allegiance to Pakistan needs to be dealt with firmly. Permitting such incidents or appreciating them do not augur well for the real integration of Kashmir with India.
The fact that many individuals have come forward to defend the Kashmiri students proves that the tolerance quotient of Indian democracy is on the rise. It is obvious that people do not want minor incidents to be sensationalised to reinforce stereotypes. The incident should serve as an eye-opener for all Kashmiris also. Their future will be safe, secure and prosperous under a democratic and secular India than in the theocratic and unstable Pakistan. The fog of mutual distrust will dissipate if contacts between Kashmiris and those from the rest of India increase.
The article correctly highlighted the fact that it was totally unreasonable for the Uttar Pradesh police to charge students for sedition. Sportsmanship is premised on a losing team acknowledging defeat and introspecting, but even more importantly on the winning team maintaining a sense of self-control. The author, while rightly mentioning the change that the definition of ‘patriotism’ has undergone, has omitted to mention that this trend coincided with the rise of the BJP in the early-1990s when all matches between India and Pakistan were portrayed as gladiatorial fights to death. The Indo-Pakistan matches of the 1980s were of a better quality and did not divide people on religious lines. The incident reminds me of Bernard Shaw’s take on patriotism: “Patriotism is a pernicious, psychopathic form of idiocy”
I agree to disagree with Mr. Shiv Vishvanathan. The teams were representing their respective countries, and supporting one’s national team did constitute patriotism. However, it is also true that in the garb of nationalism, chauvinistic interests have at times sought to settle political scores.