“We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic…”
Note: This is an entitled rant from a teenage boy who is probably not in the best headspace. Proceed with caution 🙂
Despite all the jokes and, dare I say, stereotypes that are spread about NRIs (non-resident Indians), especially involving those who stay in the Gulf (Gelf, to be politically correct), the experiences of Indians who grow up outside India are not very unlike those of the ‘proper’ Indians. We eat the same kind of food, consume the same kind of media content, mingle with the same kind of people — you get the point.
There are obviously some differences. There is one particular stark difference that I would like to point out — Patriotism. As weird and paradoxical as it may sound, people who’ve lived and grown up outside the country are in general more patriotic — not nationalistic, not jingoistic, but patriotic. Perhaps, a sense of being away from the ‘homeland’ strengthens the values associated with patriotism. Or, these values are instilled by people (parents, relatives in India, the government) as some sort of a retention scheme for NRIs. Another possibility is that because one meets people from different parts of India as well as the world, it helps understand and appreciate India’s culture and heritage better.
Personally, I consider myself as a very patriotic person. There always is an inexplicable warm, fuzzy, yet searing feeling in my chest when I sing the national anthem. A similar yet different feeling when my flight lands in India. And, when I see something even remotely Indian on any media platform, like an Indian actor in a Hollywood movie, or someone of Indian origin in any walk of life.
I used to be patriotic, at least. Perhaps the definition of patriotism has changed, and it now revolves around support for the government and nationalism. Or, a certain age appropriate ‘woke-ness’ and increased exposure to media and information has made me question this very sentiment.
What am I really proud of? The deplorable state of the poorest in the country? The clear lack of freedom of speech and expression, for those whose voice needs to be heard? Caste based discrimination and violence, communal unrest, misinformation, the list goes on. From our positions of privilege, it is probably difficult to empathise, as we live fairly comfortable lives, where our voices and concerns are heard, and not every day is a struggle. But we must ask ourselves — how much are we willing to tolerate and how much are we willing to ignore? Where do we draw a line?
On this Republic Day, a day which honours the essence of our country and its democracy — the constitution, let us look back at the fulcrum of the constitution, the preamble, and along with it the rest of the longest constitution in the world, and try to uphold the values that it stands for.
I wish you a very Happy Republic Day