Aristotle once said, “It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen”. The lines are hazy; drawn and redrawn too many times.
15th August, 1947 was the day India-Bharat-Hindustan officially became an independent nation, consequently, the largest democracy in the world. Democracy – of the people, for the people, and by the people – naturally remains a margin short of perfection if we are not. As citizens, it becomes our foremost duty, nay, our inherent priority to do everything in our power to build a national legacy. What then, defines a good citizen from a bad one?
Nationalism, the right definition
A secular nation, India has been home to many religions, cultures, ways of life since centuries. Acceptance, therefore, seems like a prequisite condition. Unfortunately, the former coupled with tolerance, is not something we as citizens can boast about in present times. Communal, religious violence, intolerance remain at an all time high. Earlier in August, 2018, four doctors were reportedly asked to vacate a flat. Grounds of justification? Their religion.
As Indians, we need to learn that despite whatever definitions people may give us, nationalism means solidarity towards your own country. Whatever religion you come from, the minority or the majority, you are citizens of the same country, Indians at the end of the day. Twisting nationalism to suit your religious needs isn’t so patriotic, after all.
You are what you represent
It is of no use to call yourself an Indian if the very term makes you feel inferior. No nation is perfect, some more crumbling than others. But it is the people who make a nation, and hence, it is them who build it too. How you behave within your country and outside is how the world will see India. Make sure it’s a good image.
Know what you preach: patriotism
Hating other nations, demeaning them, is not patriotism. Putting up the tricolour across all your social media accounts for Independence Day is not patriotism. Hoisting little plastic tricolours one moment with pride, and then littering them on the streets the next moment isn’t patriotism. With times, your definitions change as well. Vigorous support of one’s country is called patriotism. However, that does not automatically imply a blind following. Whenever you feel there is a crack in the system, you point it out, you work to correct it. Making sure your country is at its best possible level is of crucial importance.
So, while we gear up for Independence Day, remember the people who gave up their blood to make sure you have a 15th August to celebrate. They gave you this free air to breathe in, this right to practice your citizenship. Use it wisely. Happy Independence!