Can you define nationalism? This might seem like a very vague and useless question as we all claim to be incredibly patriotic. But answering this question is not as easy as it seems.
If we are asked to define nationalism, can we provide a definition without making any reference to dying or killing? Can we define it without dragging in other nations and most importantly, without using the words ‘revenge’ or ‘avenge’? Is it possible for us to understand, explain and disseminate the idea of being a true nationalist without imagining a debate, a fight, a war or even a cricket match? The answer is probably no.
Endless arguments around the question of nationalism and ‘anti-nationalism’ and the coverage of such issues by the media have helped in the emergence of a new, subjective and more multifaceted concept of nationalism.
One of the biggest flaws of this kind of nationalism is its need to depend on someone or something else. Our nationalism needs to be proven by disliking or professing hatred towards other nations, cultures and even certain personalities. We are ‘good’ Indians only if we hate Pakistan and China.
Only feeling these things are not enough – we need to vocalise our sentiments through social media. We must not compliment the posts of any persons from these nations. We are not ‘true Indians’ if we do not curse or abuse other nations in synchronisation with others. If you don’t do this, you are an ‘anti-national’, an ‘outsider’ protesting against the sane group of true patrons.
Our nationalism is incomplete without the hate for others. For one to be truly ‘nationalist’ there should be an idea of who is ‘anti-national’. Imagine one set of rules which are hypothetically demeaning to our nation. Whoever follows these rules is an ‘anti-national’ and whoever doesn’t is the true nationalist. The whole process of categorising your dedication towards the nation depends entirely on defining what constitutes being against the nation.
Another important feature of proving infinite affinity towards our nation is being always ready for war. We must always be in full mood to risk the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians just to prove that we cannot keep quiet because that would hurt the image of the nation.
The media plays a more intense role in glorifying violence and proposing the need for war. We are a developing country, the last thing we need is wastage of resources and the lives of our hard-working soldiers over political issues. I am not saying any other nation is justified to harm our civilians either but we have an entire cabinet of learned ministers, a very potent defence system and a long list of intellectual diplomats to handle these issues in the most profitable way possible. Hence, splitting the screen into three-four windows and discussing why we are not fighting seems completely avoidable.
Another important feature of our nationalism – bans on art and artists. First ban any movie, book or television show because it portrays a certain national figure in an ‘improper’ way and thus hurts the sentiments of our fellow Indians. Second, don’t let artists from other countries be a part of any of these art forms because it again proves that you are not loyal to the nation and the nationalists. But don’t bans like these prove our disloyalty to the Indian Constitution?
Again our nationalism focuses less on the profit we may earn through these art forms in the international market and more on the easily hurt sentiments. Talking about being loyal to the country, what other activity could be the apt yardstick to measure our patriotism than a cricket match? Who is your favourite cricket player? Whom are you supporting in this or that match? You don’t support the Indian team even after being an Indian? These questions are there to judge you and ascertain whether you are a traitor.
I might like an Australian batsman more than an Indian player and still have more love in my heart for my nation. I might not support any war and still be more dedicated to serving the country. My idea of patriotism might not be to wage a war but to live and simply sit in my house, study hard with the aim of making my country proud. Our nationalism should not depend on hatred towards others. The road to nationalism need not to be gory, violent and full of hatred. I can like China and Pakistan and still love India the most. I might not like the “like if you are an Indian” posts but still have patriotism deeply imbibed in my heart.
We don’t need to dislike anyone; rather, we need to love ourselves. We don’t need to belittle others but upgrade ourselves. We don’t always need to fight at the border for our country; there are many important battles to be fought within the periphery of our own nation.