I am not opposed to nationalism and will never be. Was born into a tradition that believed India to be the greatest nation in the world. We have been taught about the ‘Sone ki chidiya’ that once enlightened the world with its wealth of knowledge and showed military excellence too. We were taught that the nation is more diverse than the colors on the spectrum and what binds us all is that one word, one blood that runs through our veins- India. We were taught that our India is the greatest and the best. Nothing compares to India. No matter how far away you are from India, you will always love its ‘mitti ki khusbu’. Everything about India needs to be loved.
However, the nationalism that we are witnessing on television and social media everyday is not the kind of nationalism I support. Since when did silencing those who dissent became nationalism. Our country was great in the past but currently, we are a developing nation that is plagued by hundreds of problems. We are a nation that still needs to focus on poverty, unemployment, farmers committing suicides, women being raped and men being forced to bribe for a better future. We have to uplift millions who do not get a morsel to eat. We have to uplift millions more who were oppressed for being dalit. We have to be more respectful to the people who fought for Indian Independence and even more respectful to the people who helped the infant nation crawl while several other economies were being born (and failing) every other day.
My country needs nationalism. We need nationalism that is softer and more constructive. We need nationalism that helps us in being better humans. We need to ensure that we always focus on the future. The people who are finding flaws with everyone who does not agree with the government and calling them anti-nationals, probably do not understand that we are not living in the 1970s. At this moment, India is one of the most sought-after economic destinations in the world (it could at least strive to become so). The world watches India closely. They are keeping an eye of how this nation handles its problems. If we fail as a nation and keep fighting with each other, we will put a black spot on our hard earned reputation
So why do we still need nationalism?
We need nationalism because it is important for a nation like ours to stay united. However, nationalism should never be confused with homogeneity. We can expect all the people living on this land to feel India with every heartbeat but we cannot dictate their lives. We should let everyone be. Let them live in peace and exercise whatever religion they follow. Ideologies are never destructive unless they lock horns with other ideologies. As a matter of fact, this nationalism binds us together but does not strangle us.
Nationalist and not strong, you must be kidding?
No I am not kidding. I am serious about what I say. Our nationalism should be about working together. Our nationalism should be about working twice as hard to enhance the GDP of the nation. Our nationalism should be introducing tax measures that does not burden our citizens. Our nationalism should be about making every child, every adult of the nation and also our tourists feel safe in our boundaries. Our nationalism should be about increasing production, being industrious, helping our farmers, giving a helping hand to the downtrodden and enlightening at least one person to love the nation that they are born in. This nationalism is not forced down our throat. This nationalism becomes the environment that we thrive in and helps us in making India shine in the true sense of the word.
My mother used to tell me that a nation like Japan excelled in so many areas simply because of an industrious workforce. They did not excel because they belonged to a certain religion or caste, they excelled because they got down to work. Germany could rebuild itself because of people. What about our people? Our students are not being trained well, our new workforce is not well educated despite spending lakhs and our old workforce has not been able to completely update itself. While we are busy shouting about our nationalism on Twitter and Facebook, our ‘people’ who are building India are silently working. They are doing their bit to make millions proud while you and me shout, scream and proclaim we are nationalists while we are bunking schools, colleges and ditching our work. Who are you kidding?