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An Ode to Patriotism

The strange case of Berubari raises questions on Patriotism. Berubari Union No. 12, an area of a few square kilometers was awarded to India by the Radcliff Award. However, an omission in description gave rise to territorial claims. The Nehru-Noon Agreement of 1958, attempted to resolve the issue, whereby half of Berubari Union No. 12 was to be ceded and the other half adjacent to India was to be retained by India. This was objected by citizens of Berubari, challenging the Government of India’s act of ceding territories, contending that the said act is against the principles of Indian Constitution. On reference by the President, the Supreme Court held that the parliament is not competent to cede territories for the implementation of the Nehru-Noon Agreement. An amendment of the constitution by parliament using power under Article 368, the Constitution (9th Amendment) Act 1960 to amend the First Schedule to the Constitution, proposed to give power for transfer of territories.

The curious questions – Would the citizens of Berubari be considered patriotic over and above the parliament which amended the constitution to cede Indian Territory? The political reasons may be diplomatic, but the question is a nagging one.

Secular patriots, atheistic patriots, theist patriots, right wing, left wing patriots, each have suitable interpretations and patriotism remains an appended word.

All of us are patriots. Be wary though, you could be belonging to one hardcore group or the other. From its seemingly simple meaning of loving your country, patriotism is an instant subject of heated and at times even jocular discussions and debates in recent years.

From being a soul stirring emotional twang to a promotional clang, from a single radio over several square kilometers to the present explosion of awareness, have we let go of our grasp on patriotism or has it become a word of suitability?

“A central contention of the morality of patriotism is that, I will obliterate and lose a central dimension of the moral life, if I do not understand the enacted narrative of my own individual life as embedded in the history of my country.”- So well stated by Alasdair MacIntyre, in his essay titled “Is Patriotism a Virtue?” Our moral fiber is so entwined with the trials and tribulations of our nation that any digression would emasculate us.

Popularized by movies, “Vande Mataram” of “Kappalottiya Thamizhan” V.O. Chidambaram Pillai and “sarfaroshi ki tamannah ab hamare dil me hein” of Bhagath Singh keep our souls soaring and our hearts swelling with pride, the bond of belonging to a glory. Hearing the National Anthem, hearts should swell with pride, but we are reduced to curtsying by order of the courts and appealing against it.

WE, the people of India resolved and resolved to stand united for upholding the resolution. With over a hundred amendments in a span of 65 years and quite a few more passed and pending, the resolution, is so amenable to change and as populist as personal new year resolutions.

Changing times, changing priorities, changing resolutions, mushrooming old age homes caring and comforting our mothers. Quite understandable! But, our Motherland? Are we looking for an old age home for her too? How and when will realization strike? Pray it is not hard and painful.

We raise questions and accuse the soldiers of human rights violations, sitting in our comfortable chairs and secure platforms. Have we in any way earned that right? Significant donations are meaningless to the Soldier who marches towards enemy firing. Sarcastic criticisms, debating from air conditioned studios, on the need and modus of surgical strikes by those who probably suffered knee bruising while playing in their childhood are in no way an appreciation of the soldier. It does not really matter to the soldier as he is busy advancing against sniper fire, not trying to save himself but with the steadfast objective of his mission. But he has a family somewhere in some corner of this country; parents, siblings, wife, and children. And remember they are humans! Let us not make a sale, portraying the tearful grieving children and relatives over the sacrifice of their loved one.

Respect; Respect our Nation, respect what are symbolic to the nation, respect our Defense Forces who, we, as spectators, see marching before us, so we can celebrate Republic Days and Independence Days. Let us in our decency, dignity and self respect do that simple task without controverting.

Regional, religious, cultural, lingual diversities apart, like the Indian Banyan, considered immortal and integral to legends of India, we should unite and take root, else we fall or be felled. Patriotism is love for our Country, pure and simple. Patriotism is not a word for discussions and interpretations. It traverses our soul, energizing our being. It is not a higher thinking, it is our root. So, just take root, stand up in your honor and SALUTE, if you can!

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