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The Blurring Lines between Patriotism and Nationalism

By Mayank Ranjan

Winner - Article submitted for the Essay Writing competition on the occasion of "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav"

Patriotism and nationalism, the identical twins with a starking personality difference. One might simply ask, Is there actually any difference between patriotism and nationalism? It is quite natural to confuse the two as they are similar. However, there is a thin but distinguishable demarcation. Nationalism is myopic and ignorant of the weakness and flaws of the country, patriotism isn’t. A patriot is likely to exclaim “My country is the best!”. However, a nationalist would say “ONLY my country is the best!”, a single word makes all the difference. In recent times people have been ardently and explicitly expressing “patriotism”, some even going to the extent to force others to do the same to prove their loyalty to the county. So I’ll discuss a few reasons why nationalism has seen a sudden surge in India blurring the lines between patriotism and nationalism even more.

Modi hai toh mumkin hai: Gaining electoral influence through nationalism May 2014, the glorious time of change and the turning of a leaf. NDA gets an overwhelming majority. Now let’s look at 2019, Narendra Modi had an anti-incumbency wave due to the country’s abysmal economic performance, demonetization and rising unemployment. Yet, he was able to win by a clear majority. A major reason for his win was the counterattack operations conducted in response to the Pulwama attacks. The successful influence gained shows how the NDA I government under its rule had made nationalism a political issue rather than a stance which further increases its popularity and then capitalized on it during the 2019 elections. Another recent example is the government persuading citizens and putting up “Tiranga DP” to showcase the “patriotic feelings” for the country

Lone Place: the religious perspective over nationalism A radical sentiment has surfaced due to the increased conservatism in the population. Looking at the fact that there are about 50+ Muslim majority nations while there is no Hindu majority nation. The Hindu Right-wing, playing a game of keeping up with the Joneses preaches the idea of a “Hindu Rashtra”, which projects India as a homogenous Hindu state. This is a really dangerous ideology as it is directly in conflict with the value of secularism mentioned in the constitution’s Preamble. In fact, due to the recent popularity of the idea, people are now questioning Secularism itself as a principle.

Following world’s footsteps: Rise of nationalism across the world Now, eventually, people might believe that it is a specific Indian trend of rising nationalism, but it is actually a global trend. Rising nationalism has indeed been observed everywhere over recent years. From Donald Trump's election to Brexit, the nationalist stances of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as well as the success of far-right parties in Italian, German, and Austrian elections in 2017 and 2018 clearly show nationalism appears to be on the rise globally.

It looks like the line between nationalism and patriotism is to disintegrate further and the rise of nationalism is evident but, what is that the country needs right now? Service, real service like a patriot. In Nehru’s own words “The service of India means the service of the millions”. I would rather see fewer shows and celebrations on national holidays but more responsible, citizens. I’d rather see fewer Tiranga DP’s but more social drives. I’d rather like to see fewer ignorant nationalists and more true servers who really know the country’s

social flaws and want to eradicate them from the roots. That for me is true patriotism and is far more patriotic than any song, procession or celebration of any sort.


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