The burning patriotism of the last generation, born after the freshly attained national independence is slowly burning out. Captain Laxmi Sehegal of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s revolutionary Indian National Army passed away quietly, because our children, born after 2000, hardly know anything about Netaji or Jhansi ki rani. Of course it is our duty, the older generation, to keep the flame burning, but according to the changed circumstances! In today’s world of globalization, we have to redefine patriotism for our kids- something that they can easily relate to.
The era of kings, colonies, conquests, captures, wars, is gone. Having tasted the bitter consequences of wars, the world is working hard to maintain peace. Non violence, non alignment, globalization are the words that our children are growing up with. When we narrate the events that led to India’s independence, involving the harsh treatments, the bomb attacks, hangings, killings etc, children get confused. Because today they relate these words with terrorism; acts of anti-social elements! We have to be careful when narrating the story of our independence, taking care to explain the extreme situations that led to such acts of bravery. Children should be able to differentiate between the patriotism of the pre-independence era and today’s fundamentalist thinking of some people causing frequent violence and disturbing world peace by killing innocents.
National borders cannot be erased for administrative ease; and also because we naturally identify ourselves according to common attributes of a race belonging to a certain part of the world. This identity created by countries, and pride and love for one’s country is what we term as ‘Patriotism’. Protecting the country from terrorists and infiltrators is still important and requires courage, but such things are less frequent now, as the national army can handle it. The Army personnel are identified with the highest level of patriotism, but for the average citizens patriotism takes a much broader definition. Being patriotic means not just fighting to protect the country, but fighting and working for the all round development of the country and its people.
We need to instill the love for one’s motherland and its people, in our kids, so that they develop a desire to work for the betterment of their brethren, wherever they live. Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen is settled abroad, but his research works have roots and interest in India. He is using his education and experience to find solutions to problems which plague developing countries like India. Another example is the Late Captain Laxmi Sehgal herself, who adapted to the changing needs of the country. When the (pre independent) country needed soldiers, she bravely joined the army. When the goal was achieved, she easily shifted to treating the poor people of her country; an equally patriotic service! Patriotism today means working for the betterment of the country; helping it to prosper and shine in the world; and helping to maintain peace. Pride in one’s nationality and culture does not mean looking down at other cultures, but using our special strengths to benefit humanity through non violent measures like research, social work, entrepreneurship etc.
Patriotism means teaching our kids to be honest! Teaching and inculcating simple things like not littering because the road as well as the roadside, both belong to us and our country. We can create a beautiful country by our small, honest, sincere efforts. Whatever we do, whichever profession we choose, whichever part of the world we live, the ripples of our work should help the country to shine and prosper in some way or the other. We have to win hearts and not conquer anyone! Simple, humble people like Mary Kom, Sushil Kumar and all the other medal winning athletes made us proud. This is the type of humble patriotism that we need today. We want the world to look up to us with love and not fear or disgust. Raising the National flag should raise the desire in our children to work hard for the country and raise it to a level where it will shine the brightest, with happiness and love!