Have you ever thought that nationalism and patriotism were the same? If yes, you’re not alone because a lot of us unknowingly use these two terms interchangeably! Nationalism and patriotism essentially indicate the nature of relationship one shares with his or her country.
In a country like India where desh-bhakti or devotion towards the nation is seen as a prized sentiment, the dual ideas of nationalism and patriotism have always been enigmatic even though they have been instrumental in guarding our cultural identity and unity.
Eric Blair, an English essayist, novelist and political commentator, had many profound thoughts pertaining to nationalism and patriotism. He felt that both nationalism and patriotism are sentiments that unite people. While patriotism unites the people with the aim of attaining a common goal of success and prosperity, nationalism unites the people of the nation against its detractors.
What is Patriotism?
It is the feeling of love and belonging an individual feels towards their nation. It places a lot of emphasis on values and beliefs.
How is Nationalism different from Patriotism?
Nationalism works for the State, whereas Patriotism works for the people.
Patriotism is by nature, defensive – both from a cultural and military perspective, in the sense that Patriots do not seek war or any form of aggressive confrontations. Nationalism often manifests itself in active political ways and is generally marked by a feeling of superiority over other nations. Nationalism is inseparable from the desire to obtain more power and prestige for one’s country, often through offensive means.
Sharan Kukreja (Lawyer and BFC TV Host) comments–
“Patriotism is when you back your country for the good of your country. You support your country to ensure that the system in the country improves. Nationalism is basically, supporting your country no matter what. You don’t see what is right and wrong.”
When should we be Nationalistic and NOT Patriotic?
Sharan Kukreja replies, “You can be a nationalist only under one circumstance that is when there is a war going on, when there’s any attack from a foreign enemy. For example, when 26/11 happened, you had to be nationalistic.”
Nationalism is best reserved for those situations when the country is threatened by external, hostile forces and similar situations when unconditional and unflinching loyalty is needed from the people.
Why is Nationalism bad?
The main shortcoming of nationalism lies in the fact that it can blind people. Love for one’s country is necessary, but if this love becomes more important than Constitutional values or democratic ideals, it can block the country’s potential growth. The number of instances of mob violence incited by nationalism is on a dangerous upswing. The Dadri lynching is one such example amidst many more.
Branding anyone who dares to question the lack of reasoning behind any nationalistic move an ‘Anti – National’ is a disturbing trend, more so when it is slowly becoming the norm. Keshav R Menon, a student of IIT Kharagpur, shares his views- “The current wave of Nationalism, along with being quite confrontational, also excludes a lot of people from the status of being “nationals.” People are too quick to declare others who disagree with them to be anti-nationals, and no questioning of this country’s policies and morals is tolerated. This is very dangerous, and if left unchecked, could lead to a very dark place.”
Why teach and preach Patriotism?
Sharan Kukreja believes- “Patriotism is something that has to be inculcated in children at an early stage. No matter how old you are, you’ll always remember what you were taught earlier in life.”
He adds, “When a child is taught the wrong principles, then it becomes a problem in the later stages. Once you learn it, you’ll never forget it.”
There’s no better time than the present to begin sowing the seeds of change. It’s never too late for us to learn about the ideal situations to accept and embody the true spirit of national love and pride. Let’s educate our fellow citizens about what it means to be unpatriotic and anti-national because a person with the right balance of nationalism and patriotism is an ideal citizen the nation truly deserves!
-Student Reporter Pooja Saravanan