Patriotism? What’s that?

Few days back i tweeted this and received certain interesting responses. It would be unfair to say i didn’t gain anything out of this conversation. But i still have my doubts about Patriotism.

Take any ruler of this great nation, none ever ruled the entire country, till long after independence. India, as a nation, was formed in 1947 (still incomplete) and continued adding states like Kerala and reached its present state much later. But when we speak about patriotism, every patriot speaks about India and its rich history.

My first 19 years, i was branded as a ‘mallu’ or ‘malayali’, since i was based out of a small Malayalam speaking state called Kerala. I was proud of my land and even fought with my classmates from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. I wasn’t ready to accept that Tamil Nadu was bigger than Kerala in area, even after our teacher vouched for the fact. The proud ‘patriot’ in me felt that, accepting it would be accepting the inferiority of ‘my state’. Had there been a war between these states, i would have fought for Kerala and called myself a ‘Patriot’. Wouldn’t you call me one if Kerala was a nation and not a state? Fun part, till 1951, Kerala was made of many small princely state with only one common language and big animosity amongst them.

Later when i came to Delhi and started exploring the other regions of this country, my boundaries of ‘Patriotism’ grew beyond Kerala and extended till the boundaries of India. For me, then, we Indians are one and dare anybody challenge us or question our superiority – may it be in games or sports or boundaries or history or economic growth …. even intelligence.

Today, when i am writing this, i wonder what is ‘patriotism’? Feeling proud about something or some place where you reside? Or feeling proud and protective about a sect or culture that you are a part of? Fact is, that place or boundary or culture was never there from the starting. It was made for convenience. Then what is patriotism? Tomorrow, if India was to be divided into smaller nations or if the neighbouring hostile countries are to get dissolved into India…would or should my boundaries extend or shrink? How will it affect my patriotism?

In short, isn’t patriotism a wrong emotion like ego, which can lead to arguments, fights and even war? Isn’t patriotism hindering the spread of compassion among human?

The answers and discussions I had is shared below in random order for your reference and inference.

Alas, multiple conversation happened at the same time and the lazy me is yet to find a way to group them. So i took some snippets of the conversations.

These are learned folks and much educated (in true sense) than me. Please do not judge them on their tweets as I haven’t included the complete conversation. I just hope you get some interesting perspective on ‘Patriotism’ out of these tweets.

Peace be with you all.

Note: the name (and twitter id) of the person is mentioned in the last line of this tweet along with the date of the tweet. The twitter handle mentioned ‘inside’ the tweet are of the folks to whom they have addressed their tweet. For eg: the tweet below is meant for me (@deejthtraveller) and tweeted by Nisha Khot (twitter id: @nishakhot)

A response by a friend on my first tweet:

My answer to the above tweet:

A tweet by a friend on my first tweet:

First conversation on the above tweet by SS:

Second conversation on the tweet by SS that patriotism is not a geographical concept:

Snippets from other conversations around my tweet:


9 thoughts on “Patriotism? What’s that?

  1. Greetings!

    It is an interesting topic you bring up. Why patriotism matters and whether it is relevant today is something I’ve wondered about before.

    My understanding is that patriotism is subjective & can many different things to different people. It even depends on the country you live in (like it is legally unpatriotic to blaspheme in Pakistan).

    As you correctly note, the Indian land for centuries was ruled in parts by various monarchs until the British decided to unify the land to form a nation for their administrative convenience. Between this period and 1947, what happened that made millions believe in the idea of India (and still does)?

    We humans have an intrinsic disposition to form groups based on shared ideals, values & goals. In time, that feeling of belonging to a community that shares opinions provides a certain sense of security to one. Any perception of a threat to that collective formation makes us defensive.

    This is perhaps how the concept of a nation is born. Our freedom fighters shared the ideal of swaraj, initially, and freedom, later. Sure, we dressed differently, spoke differently & behaved differently but in the face of an ‘external’ threat, our collective conscious would not accept inaction in the guise of apathy. So they fought. And they won.

    Naturally, that particular generation was especially patriotic as they fought for a shared value together & meant to defend it. Why though is patriotism still relevant?

    Again, we flock together based on similarities in cultures, languages, diets but most importantly, ideas. India as a nation stands for certain ideas like democracy, freedom, secularism, compassion, honesty and many more envisioned by our founding fathers. The need for patriotism stems from the need to defend these ideas; ideas that eventually form our individual personalities that dictate our thoughts & actions.

    Think about it. Why not let the Taliban take over India & implement Shariah here? Why not let the Hindu right wing make India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ & treat minorities like 2nd class citizens? I don’t mean to exaggerate but the fact is that there are certain ideas in this world worth believing in, worth fighting for.

    Having said all that, let me add that patriotism, in itself, where one believes one’s country is the greatest without valid reasoning is idiocy. Is my country the greatest in the world? Most definitely not. Though my country may have been great for me, I accept there are a multitude of maladies afflicting our nation. My patriotism tells me not to argue with others about how great my nation is but instead to work everyday to make India a worthwhile idea to preserve.

    Thank you for reading & I hope I’ve made at least something of a case for patriotism & the need for it.

    • Well thought and articulated!

      While I agree to what you said, how about a different perspective:

      Instead of Afghanistan taking over us and implementing Shariah, how about we resisting it there and help Afghan folks with a better life?

      As of today, we do not interfere into the atrocities happening in our neighboring countries because our patriotism is all about our people. I am not referring to US kind of action but, Gandhi’s way.

      For eg: i read a tweet by a Canadian who said…She would rather like to read the newspaper mourning & reporting the death of 50 odd people in kenya than read ‘2 canadians dead in the attack on kenyan mall’.

      I think patriotism leads to the latter perspective (news) while humanity leads to the former perspective.

      PS: Again its just a thought, an attempt to understand things better. I might be wrong :)

      • We can if the Afghans want us to help them. Humanity is most definitely a more important trait than patriotism but one can value both qualities is what I’d say. :)

        P.S. There is no right or wrong here. Just an open discussion on perspectives.

  2. patriotism means a sense of belonging…… else history ,heritage,culture all will loose its essence……. home is where heart is… n heart is where ur soul is at peace …….. that is wt patriotism means to me :)

  3. for me, patriotism is linked with emotional attachment to where one has spent a lot of time and the desire to want to do something for those parts of the earth that made you what you are today. So yes, boundaries of patriotism are bound to expand. I started off with Aurangabad, moved on to Pune, found a real solid attachment for Delhi ( ironic) and have finally moved off to the states. The longing to be back in these parts of India would be one aspect of patriotism for me; and may be if I spend enough time here, I might feel attached to US as well!

    • you said what i meant to say some where in the post…patriotism is not defined by boundaries or caste or color or religion. A little down the line, i suspect you will also agree to me that, this patriotism is biased to places where we have been to, hence an emotion made on incomplete experience.

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