Thursday, June 2, 2016

The patriot

I've held out from making this post for as long as I could. Or from making any post, for that matter.
All around me, people have been ranting and raving about everything from the beef ban to the roast ban, and the latest update on that, the furor over a PJ a comedian posted on his Snapchat.

I am in awe of these proceedings. Literally rendered speechless by the monumental insignificance of most things people have decided to obsess over lately. But mostly, the reason I haven't made a post or so much as a rousing comment is that I am a pacifist.
'Non-confrontational' is, in fact, my middle name.
Now, I admit that that's a much less cool middle name than say 'Trouble', but what to do? That's how I roll.
Or, more appropriately, given my age and disposition, that's how I take a couple of puffs and pass, when someone else rolls.

Anyway, as you, my too intelligent and often patronizing reader, have guessed, this post is about other, more important things. I actually have a point to make!! I know, right?

A point about patriotism, to be specific.
So, here's the thing... I used to be an extremely patriotic child.
Reared on a fodder of films ranging from 'Saat Hindustani' to 'Gadar- Ek prem katha', my devotion for my nation knew no bounds.
I idolized our freedom fighters, insisted that everyone stand up when the national anthem was so much as hummed, and felt 'proud to be an Indian' every single day.
Now, you might think that I was disillusioned when I migrated to another country or, you know, gained some perspective as I grew up, but nooope!
That's not even close to how I reached (cynical) enlightenment.

Here's what really happened...
I studied Indian history.

That's it. That's all, folks. That's all it took.
Suddenly, all my glorified ideas about heroism and sacrifice came crashing down.
At 15, I realized that our 'freedom struggle' was a political war, more than anything else.

As much as there were patriotic heroes, with their youthful passion and their rose-tinted glasses firmly in place (and I count everyone from Bhagat Singh to Birsa Munda among them), there were also the shrewd politicians, the Nehrus, Gandhis and Jinnahs, who were planning their empires, lining up their pawns.

I read about the freedom struggle, and I saw that it was really a negotiation between two sets of powerful people: the empire that was waning, and the 'democracy' that was rising, but both represented solely by their 'leaders'. Not their warriors.

This newfound patriotism is the disease of a nation fed on nationalist propaganda. This is a nation that did not study its own history. Because if they did, they would realize that this 'patriotism' is a sham.
Its an elaborate and fairly riveting story fed to us by clever marketing geniuses, who knew that their empires would only survive if the people believed that they were heroes who liberated them. Not cowards who struck a bargain with their oppressors.
Because, at the end of the day, many of our 'heroes' resembled our oppressors more than they resembled us. Many of our leaders still do.

Welcome to the animal farm, where some animals are inevitably more equal than others. Especially cows.

Bharat mata ki jai.

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