Smells like teen spirit: On Republic Day, young people in India define patriotism

Patriotism…think of the word and as a reflex you will have a typical list of songs being played in your mind. This will be followed by a series of images showing the ‘rich diversity in cultures or the sacrifice of jawans which will invoke a sense of great pride.

What is patriotism?

To die for your motherland, to love your country, to be proud of your country... is largely accepted as patriotism. In all likelihood, this was the mindset about a decade ago. For young millennials of this country, Republic and Independence days were the only two days when the concept of ‘one nation’ would strike them and they probably would feel a sense of pride while singing the national anthem in their school flag hoisting ceremony.

However, the scenario has drastically changed. The youth of this country today, feel very differently. They understand the innate sense of patriotism for their country and have the highest regard towards the framework that constitutes the social fabric of India, the Constitution. And on feeling that this framework could be under attack, they are out on the streets fighting for what they see as the true spirit of India.

This 71st Republic Day, we get you the young voices of India telling us what it truly means to be a patriot...

Smells like teen spirit: On Republic Day, young people in India define patriotism

New wave of patriotism

21-year-old Sourav Karthikeyan says, “Patriotism is to express responsible love and care towards one's country, whereas nationalism is to express blind love towards one's government, no matter what it does. A patriot would feel all the necessity to question his country's devastating measures while a nationalist would find any such devastating act right. Democracy will survive only if questions arise and questions will arise only from patriots.”

For 21-year-old Rishika Tewari, Republic Day and patriotism was all about reminiscing the freedom fighters, singing songs like ‘Mile sur mera tumhara...’ and bowing your head at Amar Jawan Jyoti. “But now it's more about respecting your government and religion. Now people feel if we don't love the Prime Minister, we are going against our country. The government and the country has become interchangeable which is just dangerous on so many levels because governments aren't permanent but our country is,” she points out.

Resonating the same, according to 23-year-old Rahul Pai, a patriot is someone who respects and upholds the constitution and what it lists down. He believes that committing crimes in the name of nationalism or patriotism that results in terror and violence, does not make someone a true patriot.

Summing it up, 20-year-old Krittika Kannojia from Dehradun says, “Anyone who raises a voice against the government is becoming an anti-national. The loyalty is shifting to the government but our government is not India. Your loyalty should lie with your country. I’ll explain with an example --my loyalty should lie with the flag of my country, the Tiranga and not the sanghi saffron.”

So what does being Indian truly mean to our youth?

Celebrated spoken word poet, Priya Malik says, “Being Indian means being true to what India stands for, that is, diversity. Diversity of thoughts, religions, cuisines, languages and dialects etc. Diversity with a capital D!”

21-year-old Bhavesh Katoch from Pune believes that being Indian means embracing every aspect of the country with open arms. It means not overlooking the suffering of one community, it means to not insult the history of the country by abiding by laws that support the differences this country has. “We indeed need to practice, not just acknowledge the idea of ‘unity in diversity’ that the roots of our nation stem from,” Bhavesh adds.

The youth understand that being Indian is to be inclusive, to show kindness, to practice non-violence, to accept distinct cultures and to respect people from all walks of life. A true patriot is seen as one who is there for the nation and its people in the hour of need.

“Given the situation in the country right now there has never been a greater moment in our generation where it has called upon the need of its citizens to stand together and push back, reject any sort of wrongdoings by the people in power,’’ says Rahul Pai.

Empowerment has arrived.

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