It is the day which is to celebrate not only liberty but also truth, justice, and integrity. It is the day when our patriotism and nationalism brim out of emotion.
Nationalism and patriotism?
Aren’t they the same thing?
Well, yes and no. But more or less they mean the same thing.
They may not be different but we can understand them when we look at how they translate into our actions and our priorities.
To start from the basics, a dictionary can provide us with the meanings to begin with.
If we look at the classical definitions, both mean to have the feeling of love for one’s country while the differentiating factor is that in in nationalism, we put our country above any other country.
It may many a times disregard the virtues of other countries. While in patriotism, we love our country while at the same time, we acknowledge the love of people from other nationalities for their own country and virtues of other nations.
So patriotism appears to be a term with wider horizon and nurtures a sense of responsibility as it also approaches to the huge diaspora of Indians abroad who have the love for the nation back home while making a mark by contributing at the global stage.
Nationalism sees through the lenses of a nation state which makes it easily interpret as country and its uniqueness in all its aspects and the protection of the territory, while patriotism sees through the lenses of a civilization.
It might seem that we Indians have always been patriotic as we form our worldview from prehistoric times and how we have remained as a civilization and carried out trade and diplomatic relations with other nations and regions.
As compared to this, nationalism appear to be a western concept that came later.
Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore considered nationalism to be a foreign concept and criticized it for being too rigid.
The fact of the matter now is that was have internalised nationalism but we have to internalise nationalism in such a way that it helps our nation flourish rather than leading it towards jingoism.
The conflict between the western spirit of nationalism and our eastern spirit of civilization is confusing and difficult to decipher. Striking a balance is necessary to fit the Indian context.
In fact, India has a great significance at the world stage with contributing factors such as tradition, cuisine, films, and ideas. And ideas have transcended across the regions.
Do our ideas have to be defined by words as well?
Whatever terms we may define our contributions or our feelings for our nation, we all are nationalists and patriots in our own regards.
To end, it would be appropriate to quote what John F Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.‘
And with this spirit, we can lead our country towards what our founding fathers aspired the nation to be.
Long Live India!
Happy 74th Independence Day my fellow countrymen.
Sayantan Mitra writes about society with touches of polity and politics. His main focus is on providing informative content with a unique perspective, but never at the cost of providing just mere entertainment.