Society

My idea of patriotism is…

Sreejith K. S., Sandeep S. S., Adarsh G. S. and Arya S. Photo: Athira M.   | Photo Credit: Athira M.

What does Independence Day mean to the youth of today? Do they take freedom for granted? How do they define patriotism? As I walk into the grand, old University College campus with these questions and much more, I am quite sceptical. After all, many of us tend to wear patriotism on our sleeve only on August 15 and January 26; or when India takes on Pakistan on the cricket ground; or when we watch the movie Chak De India or, may be, when we listen to Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Ae mere watan ke logon…’.

But the students I meet on the campus impress and surprise me with their answers. Well, they don’t chant ‘I am proud to be an Indian’ or ‘I love my country’. There is anger, angst, revolt, concern, anguish, protest and pride.

“I often wonder why we are still called a third world country! That usage has to be done away with!” says Sreejith K.S., a post graduate student of English literature, a point seconded by his friend Adarsh G.S.

Sreejith, who was in the National Cadet Corps, aspires to join the armed forces. He asserts that patriotism matters. “It is the sentiment that keeps the nation together, irrespective of its diversity in all spheres. I still get goose bumps when I hear the national anthem or see the national flag being hoisted,” he says.

Then there are students such as Jamsheena A. J. who believe that patriotism cannot be defined by borders, geographical or manmade. A final year student of BA English literature, she says: “We grieve for the Gaza victims and are affected by what is happening in other parts of the world, thus holding aloft the concept of ‘Vasudaiva Kudumbakam’ [world is one family] concept. I support patriotism of that kind.”

Manikandan J., a post graduate student, goes a step ahead and calls patriotism a “farce”. “I am concerned about the world as a whole,” he sounds philosophical. His classmate Maneesh Chandran J.M. too minces no words in expressing his displeasure over the surge of patriotism on cricket grounds. Arya S., a post graduate student, wonders whether we really understand the term. “Nationality is a cultural institution.” She worries about the deepening communal divide.

As for Swathy S. B., an undergraduate student of Zoology, Independence Day isn’t meant to be just a holiday, but a time to remember those souls who fought for the big day.

Nandu T. points out that freedom can be achieved in its true sense when we are able to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. “For me, raising my voice against corruption and injustice is a form of patriotism,” Nandu says.

Jibin Antony, Nandu’s classmate, an undergraduate student of political science, supplements: “Freedom or patriotism should be about getting up close with the realities of life and society around us, rather than merely expressing views or protests on Facebook and other social networking sites.”

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 4:38:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/my-idea-of-patriotism-is/article6317375.ece

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