Saturday, 13 August 2011

An Idea of India

What is the meaning of India? What is the meaning of patriotism? We are taught in school to love our country, to be patriotic. That 'spirit' is instilled in all of us from a very young age. I don't recall a single person telling me what constitutes 'loving your country'. There are many viewpoints that I've come across, including,
-> Protecting the heritage and culture of the country is love for the country
-> Protecting the spread of foreign influences is love for the country
-> Shooting down (figuratively) people who criticise India is love for the country
-> Preserving local languages is love for the country

You get the drift. The problem is, I can't seem to agree with any of this. I don't really care for India's culture and heritage. I don't care so much for languages. I do argue with people who unnecessarily criticise the country, but I agree that this country is deeply flawed. I'm all for the spread of foreign influences. Do I hate India? I don't think so. I just can't figure out what it is about India that I love. There is so much cynicism everywhere. So much 'chalta hai'. So much 'it's somebody else's problem'. What do I love? I don't really know. I do know that it is a hopeless, unyielding love. But why?

I have no answers. Until I do, maybe I'll look at the lakhs of people who died for the idea of India. I don't know what their ideas were. But whatever they were, they were worth dying for. While I look for my own idea, maybe I'll manage with the fact there were once ideas worth dying for.


Gantavya said...

Absolutely empathetic about your viewpoint. This feeling arises in us primarily because there is very little that we can actually do. But with the current scenario around the Lokpal bill and the huge response to Annas leadership the ideas of love are sprouting, dormant for sure. But encouraging nevertheless!

Blogging Ibex said...

This love is similar to what we feel about our school,college,city,state..however good or bad these places might be.
May be its the bond that is unknowingly created when you spend so many years at a place or or so much time with some people.We end up having so many memories and experiences connected to these places and people that it becomes hard not to love them.

trupti said...

Luckily, none of us will face a situation in our lifetime where our patriotism is put to real a test.
Your post reminds me about the concept of indianness we were taught in 11th grade english class. Its such an intrinsic part of our being that we cannot get away from it irrespective of whether we love or hate India. Its the case of a round peg fitting in a round hole. We are so conditioned to live in the environment that we are born in that if we go to a new place we desire to back to our homes how much ever better the new place is. These subconscious desires of being with and hence preserving what is so familiar to us makes us fight for it when we see it being destroyed, modified or even questioned.

greySith said...

You know what Trupti, I sort of agree with what you said. I've heard a somewhat similar view from a cynic a long time ago -
"Today, patriotism is pride in your country because you are from that country."

trupti said...

"Today, patriotism is pride in your country because you are from that country."
I don't think its something that is happening today. It has always been so, even for our forefathers. This pride is not something we try to feel forcibly, it is more natural than we really think.
Back in CoEP days I came across 2 occasions where my love and respect for India was questioned by my friends. It was then I realized that yes I do respect and love my nation for all its good and bad things, but I don't need to wear it on my sleeve or over-analyze it or feel uncomfortable about it.
This realization of 'just letting it be' has helped me here in US, where on multiple occasions you are recognized as an Indian and get into discussions about 'How things are different back in India'. Especially, when you try to objectively discuss it with non-Indians you realize how complex our culture is. Though it is so flawed you do find something in it worth loving and defending.