The term ‘nation’ has had many different meanings, but it can generally be defined as a large body of people united by a common descent, history, culture or language and inhabiting a particular area or territory. Like the term ‘nation’, nationalism also has had various meanings, before it evolved into love and loyalty for one’s nation and at times this is associated with a feeling of superiority over other countries. In recent times, nationalism in our country has got confined to the flag, the nation’s anthem and in some cases, it is more about hatred towards Pakistan than love for our own country. It has evolved into a badge that has to be worn upon one’s sleeves and has to be kept at a constant display. In this process, we have neglected the basic ideology of nationalism and that being the love for the society and the people who form the nation. Let’s have a look at the issues which need to be addressed immediately before we can put this badge on display.
Even after 70 years of independence, our country is still haunted with caste and religious discrimination. The former being the most prevalent form of discrimination practised in our country. According to a report on Catch news in January 2016, 23 Dalit students had committed suicide from institutions like IIT and AIIMS. They are still seen as second class citizens with no basic rights. A 2010 survey by NHRC reported that every 18 minutes a crime is committed against Dalits. On an average three Dalit women are raped, two Dalit houses are burnt and two Dalits are murdered.
The second most practised form of discrimination in our country is that based on region. While Maharashtra’s hostility towards north Indians garnered lots of attention, the most affected ones have been the people coming from the North-Eastern region of our country. A 2014 survey by NHRC reported that 67% of people coming from the North-East have been a victim of ethnic/racial discrimination and Delhi was reported to be the most unsafe place for those hailing from the North-East.
We are in the 21st century but still, women have to suffer at the hands of patriarchy. There is a distinct difference between the number of men and women holding executive positions and also the salaries drawn by them. Over the years our country has experienced a steep rise in sex crimes against women. There were 24,923 reported rape cases in 2012 and in 2015 this figure rose to 34,651, which comes to an average of 94 rapes per day. Unlike rape incidents, sexual harassment is still considered a trivial issue and goes unreported in most of the cases. It is safe to say that India as a country has failed to protect its women.
In India, the poverty line is fixed at ₹32 a day in rural areas and ₹47 in towns and cities. With such less money in hand, getting even two meals a might be difficult and with 29.5% of the India’s population living below the poverty line as reported by the Rangarajan committee, malnutrition becomes a real cause for concern.
The rise in religious intolerance, ongoing wars in Kashmir and Bastar, gunning down of tribals by police for their land, projection of a whole University as an ‘anti-national’ institution, poverty, dirty politics and inadequate healthcare facilities are some of the issues which are needed to be taken care of immediately before we can wear our nationalism as a badge of honour.
India needs to understand that nationalism cannot be an agreement with a political party’s manifesto and an agreement with its narrative. A nation is not just a flag or an anthem, a nation is an entity which is much bigger than the country itself. It is made up of people who form different sections of the society. If the society is falling apart, it demands our immediate attention. This Republic Day, instead of displaying our fake nationalism lets walk in solidarity towards building a better nation. Let’s build it from the scraps.