India Today
Patriotism Image Credit: India Today
Patriotism Image Credit: India Today

Independence Day Special: Patriotism

What does it really mean? A love for your country, your nation, your homeland? At the risk of getting all tukde-tukde about it, we can’t really talk about patriotism without splitting a few hairs.

Nilanjan Das

We asked a clutch of eminent citizens the question, and they all had very different answers. Or you could say they all agreed that it depends on who you are: a filmmaker or an author, a teacher or a soldier, a singer or a diplomat. And though we are all Indians, perhaps it matters where you are from too: from the North or the South, from the Capital or the periphery, from Calcutta or Allahabad—Kolkata or Prayagraj. Or Kashmir.

Several of our contributors are at pains to point out that patriotism is something quite distinct from nationalism. Something older, subtler and perhaps more authentic. For others, the nation is the ancient, authentic source of our identity. Is there a distinction between the topophilia we feel in our ‘native place’ (or the place we actually live) and the collective allegiance we share for a national abstraction? Or is this just a sentimental continuum? Similarly, parochialism, prejudice and xenophobia shadow the love of place and seem to scale up or down from the smallest social unit to a subcontinent.

Indian patriotism has survived all these contradictions and ironies—sometimes it seems that it thrives on them. Once upon a time we were exhorted to see a singular person, as the manifestation of India herself. It didn’t last long. A billion patriots are unlikely to warm to a single slogan. One more reason to celebrate Independence.

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE

FROM OUR BRAVE


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