Sunday, September 28, 2008

Patriotism and Jingoism

All of us must be aware of the meaning of 'patriotism', but what about 'jingoism'? Well in a way it is synonymous to the latter, only that the degree of patriotism is amplifies to that of a belligerent chauvinism.

So in other words excessive patriotism becomes the foundation for jingoism. So now comes a crucial question on the thin of line of difference between the two.

In the Indian context it becomes a quite a contentious issue. We have the so called custodians of national honour hounding people who advertently or inadvertently violates the Flag Code. (Ms. Sania Mirza is persecuted in a court in MP, for allegedly posing with a foot near the Flag, Mr. Narayan Murthy of Infosys is also in trouble for not arranging a recital of the National anthem during a Presidential visit). So how do we term all these mindless legal persecutions?

Has the honour of the entire country rests on these symbolic institution like a flag or the national anthem? But a more fundamental question is what constitutes a nation? Certainly the values upon which our country is founded is not a mere symbolism in its flags, anthem or song. (which reminds me of another controversy over Muslims in Gujarat refusing to sing the Vande Mataram, because of certain Hindu religious references).

So will such a stance undermine the loyalty of every Muslim in our country? This question also reflects another important conundrum. Is it justifiable for a state to indoctrinate its society into dictating the values that must be imbibed? In a true democracy, the state has no business in propagating its values and ideals. Of course this doesn't imply the nation must give up some its integrity and unity. If an individual wishes to not to sing the National Anthem, that doesn't brand them as a traitor to the nation. It is an individual choice, as much as he is a part of a democratic society, he has equal rights in voicing his/her dissent against its ideals. The best example is in United States where every individual has a right to even burn the flag to express his disapproval. (its even allowed to print the American flag onto one's underwear.) Certainly this has not led to the disintegration of the United States of America. (in some Southern states the public offices flagrantly even hoist the Confederate flag, much to the chagrin of the federal and other states)

A nation is much more than the mere symbolism of flags, anthem, animals and birds. A true democratic society is one that permits dissent and in a way these dissents are a powerful indicator of the malaise that plague any societal structure. (if Kashmiri people are boycotting the Independence Day, they have every right to do so). Its high time the Government redress the cause of the dissent rather than coercing them to imbibe its collective values

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