India Uncut

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Building patriotism

“Is patriotism built by marching practice?” wonders Dilip D’Souza, as he looks out of his window at school students marching around the park, practising for those New Year sports meets we’ve all been through. The reason advanced by schools to justify this meaningless exercise, as D’Souza points out, is that it “teaches the kids discipline! Inculcates a feeling for the Army (soldiers march about, after all), thus a sense of patriotism.”

Every time I go to watch a movie in Mumbai, more of this patriotism is instilled into me. Before every film the national anthem plays, and we all have to stand in silence, love for the nation no doubt sweeping through our softened hearts. The consequence of this practice is that whenever the national anthem plays somewhere, I feel reflexively irritated, which is not something that I’d feel earlier. And really, the anthem has as little to do with patriotism as marching has to do with discipline, or a saffron robe with saintliness, or a wedding ring with marital fidelity. These are all merely symbols, and they no doubt have their value in moments of great emotion, like when athletes wrap their national flag around them after winning an olympic medal. But that emotion cannot be forced, and the symbols have no meaning without them. Unless they stand for oppression.
amit varma, 9:04 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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