REPUBLIC DAY While youngsters want to be seen as ‘cool', being a patriot or not isn't one of the yardsticks for qualification, finds NEETI SARKAR
L ord Byron once said: “He who loves not his country can love nothing.” Sure, there probably isn't anyone who hates his country but how much one feels for his country is an issue of subjectivity. Today is our country's 61st Republic Day and MetroPlus asks Bangaloreans if it's cool to be patriotic.
Valene Varela, who works with Google thinks: “It is cool to be patriotic because the portion of the population that cares about being cool is huge and if they were patriotic because of its ‘coolness' factor, then our nation would actually show signs of progress!”
Designer/writer Omi Gurung feels everyone should be patriotic. He asks rhetorically: “Have you ever heard a child say I don't like my mother? Similarly people should love their nation and take pride in being Indian. Today people think it's a fashion statement to be cool but that should not be their way of thinking. Unfortunately we can't deny the fact that many think national holidays like Republic Day are nothing but a respite from work.”
Patriotism, as a term and sentiment, evokes different reactions from different people. To most of us, it probably means bursting crackers in the middle of the night when India wins a cricket match against Pakistan. To others it could mean painting the tricolour on their faces on Independence Day and clicking photos that would be uploaded as display pictures on Facebook. Still others feel a sense of patriotism when they sing/hear the national anthem being played at a program, when they watch “Mother India” or “Rang De Basanti” annually when it's telecast on TV on days like this, or probably when they watch the Republic Day parade. MBA student Suneil Gupta says: “There's nothing cool about being patriotic. It's something we are born with. If one isn't patriotic that's their decision and it doesn't boil down to them being cool or un-cool.”
Software engineer Sanya Rehman says: “India's harsh reality is something that comes in the way of our patriotism. We complain almost everyday about how our country lacks good infrastructure, or about how a huge chunk of our population lives below the poverty line. It isn't as often that we're given a chance to be patriotic because it isn't everyday that India wins a match or brings home a beauty contest crown. Being patriotic is probably innate.”
“The main problem with patriotism is that people very rarely know to strike a balance. Patriotism doesn't mean we need to hate another country to prove that we love our own. It also doesn't lie in the external. It isn't about advocating everything indigenous from our choice of clothing to our taste in food. One can wear a mini skirt, devour English romance novels, drink a martini or live on Chinese food everyday. None of this would make someone less Indian than they are and these certainly don't qualify as yardsticks to measure one's patriotism. So technically, patriotism has very little to do with being hip,” explains sociologist Sushil Chandranath.
Cool or uncool is but an issue that stems from the sidelines of the actual debate about whether patriotism exists six decades after India was declared a Republic. And there definitely is reason to rejoice because to some extent every Indian would concur with what Mark Twain said “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”