I went to see the movie ‘Dangal’ along with my wife last night. This, we thought, would be a welcome break as we have been traveling since the last few days. We thought, it would give us a good opportunity to unwind before we go back to our work. But it did not turn out to be as much fun as we expected it would be. The movie itself was great and had nothing much to do with it. It has more to do with a recent judgement, wherein it has been made compulsory for movie theaters to play the national anthem right before the movie. The otherwise very progressive supreme court of India, thought that it would instill a sense of patriotism in the movie goers.
Of course, it has been critiqued from various corners but many loved it. With the current government trying to force down patriotism down the throat of every individual, this judgement is seen as a victory of sorts. The theater where I went for the movie, played the anthem, right after the trailer of a funny movie called Jolly LLB 2. So one moment we were all laughing and in the next we are all forced to stand up to our national anthem. Don’t know about others, but I was not feeling very patriotic. Instead we were feeling angry at the forced nature of patriotism.
Off late, nationalism has got a new lease of life in India. Everyone starting from media, ‘scholars’, institutions etc., have been talking about it. The govt loves and encourages it and in fact even uses it to bring forth ghastly arguments. Recently they justified standing for hours and dying in ATM lines (due to demonetization) by highlighting that same thing is being done by the armed forces in protecting the borders. It confuses Patriotism with Nationalism.Patriotism has to do with immense love for the country. The ability to criticize the hell out of the government, so that the country can get better. It is not jingoism. Nationalistic Jingoism is about considering that our country is superior that every other country and is about the obsessive nature of it. It is about getting blinded in the obsession and considering everything/everyone who criticizes the country, even if it is for the better, unpatriotic.
And in current times, such nationalism continues to be on the rise in India….!!!