Disclaimer: This may turn into a rant soon, so fair warning to all patriots and nationalists.
Alright. I, like any other average school going Indian kid, has been thoroughly spoon fed the greatness of our nation since childhood. I have, like everyone else, thoughtlessly mouthed our bizarrely worded pledge (…all Indians are my brothers and sisters..). I have also seen enough “Paki bashing“, through media and movies, which of course is supposed to give us some sense of superiority (or something). Or had my Facebook news feed full of images proclaiming superiority of our nation. None of this has made me feel anything. I don’t deny that it inevitably becomes a part of my identity, but I never have I been able to grasp the concept of how I have to be somehow proud of being born in a country through pure random chance. Also, I get a good chuckle when some enlightened ‘peaceful‘ Indian comes in everywhere from the movies to the internets, and point out the people who fight in the name of religious superiority to remind that “we are all proud Indians and we should stay united..” (insert random ‘proud Indian’ statements here) – the irony of using one divisive ideology to combat another never ceases to amaze me.
Of course, that might all be narrow minded, cynical me who don’t just “get it”. What worries me, is when all this propaganda and nationalism breeds intolerance. A good example last year was actress and model Gehna Vasisht getting attacked for wearing a bikini with Indian flag – and not one source have I found to date condemning physical violence against her. All I saw were how she was doing this for cheap publicity stunt – perhaps she was. But does that really matter? Is it such a hard thing to understand that violence against women is wrong regardless of her supposed intentions or your beliefs? And at the time, I happened to see an FB page sharing the same, congratulating her attackers for beating her black and blue. And the number of likes and shares that received was unbelievable. When a shred of cloth trumps basic human rights, then maybe it’s time to re-examine your core beliefs and moral stance.
So it would seem that Independence day is another great day for us to brush the issues of misogyny, homophobia, oppression against non believers and minorities, casteism etc which still remains to chain us. aside and be proud of our inherent national superiority. Maybe I am generalizing. Maybe I am being cynical. But I have seen nothing much to that effect. I’m desperately hoping that I’m very, very wrong, but sadly that hasn’t been the case (aside a few exceptions like this). At least maybe it’s worth re-examining if that which supposedly unites you divides you more than anything. Maybe it’s not just the colonial forces we need to be free from, as we are still chained by the aforementioned issues. When we begin to address those, then maybe I’ll cheer you along with the whole ‘Proud Indian’ chants and whatnot.
What am I doing, ruining your good national holiday. Happy Independence Day everyone!