Celebrate with Caution

As I begin to gather my thoughts, pen them down, connect the dots and make some sense out of keen observations on the eve of India’s 71st Independence Day, I find myself utterly confused. This confusion springs out from a dilemma between self declared labels and true inner realities — to call myself a nationalist or a patriot or to hitherto the actual thoughts I hold of my country. In this catch 22 situation, a fear of labels arises. I do not want to call myself a hindu, neither do I wish to call another person one. I neither want to look at a sister wearing a hijab a muslim, nor a brother wearing a turban a sikh. I wish to call myself and all the others who reside and thrive in my diverse country, human. Period

Now that I talk of a topic most are tweeting about, receiving death threats as a result of talking about, as well as being foisted on 1.2 billion people by its judiciary, I should not be afraid. It is a misunderstood term, and as a law abiding citizen of India, I will make full use of Article 19(A).

I do not frequent the movies a lot, but when I do, it is indeed disturbing to rise and sing the national anthem before enjoying a Bollywood movie set in France with homosexuals making out in the first scene. Now this may come off as amusing to those who understand why I mention this contradiction, but to me, it was and remains a disturbingly dangerous situation. We are a country of hypocrites. How? With an insecure hindu dominant government clouded by their own insecurities of weakening nationalism who thrive to create deeper divisions in an already disunited society by fostering and foisting hyper-nationalism on its people. You may wonder how that makes us, the people, too, hypocritical.

Because we condone this atrocious behaviour and are duly responsible for its ramification.

We have Kajaria ceramics celebrate nationalism or, rather, impinge on its viewers, an image of its love for the country by dressing Akshay Kumar in an army uniform. We see Hero Honda celebrate independence by dressing male models up as army soldiers and reciting three lines of patriotism at the end of the advertisement. We have tanks and fighter jets used in previous wars set up in college campuses across the nation, only to reinforce the idea of nationalism, which should be innate, not impinged. Call me stupid, but I dislike watching cricket, especially Indo-Pak matches. Only because it is a celebration of jingoism when India wins, and a myriad of abuses against Pakistanis when the latter wins. I come from a family of refugees who migrated to India as a result of being affiliated to a particular religion when the partition took place. Speaking of which, Independence has already taken place in Pakistan and they have had their share of whatsapp messages and patriotic slogans and songs doing rounds on various social media platforms.

We are all right in our own way. But the animosity that jingoism has created, whether through religious clashes, bloody memories, tragic displacements and cricket matches, is not right.

Celebrate what is morally correct to celebrate.

Yes, wars are inevitable when national security is at stake. And yes, our soldiers are not wrong when they fight against the enemy who wish to invade (immorally) political boundary and risk the national integrity that a neighbour holds.

But we, will be wrong, as always, if we don’t celebrate and love India for its humans, not punjabis, bengalis, hindus, muslims, christians, buddhists and what-not! We will be wrong to love our country by hating another. We will be wrong to not recognise the flaws our land and people possess and not help in their amelioration. We will be wrong if we are oblivious to the social wrongs around us.

We owe this, not just to our country, but to humankind.

This Independence day, let us actually love our country, so no one forces us to.

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